Boxing doc hits the big screen

A DOCUMENTARY about bare-knuckle boxing between rival families in Dundalk was released in Ireland and in UK cinemas on Friday, August 5.

A DOCUMENTARY about bare-knuckle boxing between rival families in Dundalk was released in Ireland and in UK cinemas on Friday, August 5.

Directed by Ian Palmer, Knuckle chronicles a history of violent feuding between rival clans such as the Quinn McDonaghs and the Joyces.

However, it mainly focuses on two brothers, James Quinn McDonagh and his younger brother, Michael. The documentary was given a four star rating on the film review website Movies.ie.

Movies.ie critic Paul Byrne described Knuckle as “brutal, yet captivating and ultimately moving”. Meanwhile, Rottentomatoes.com gave Knuckle 100% on the infamous tomatometer with an average rating of 6/10 by reviewers.

Featured in this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Knuckle was shortlisted to compete in the World Cinema Documentary Competition where it received its premiere alongside most of the other 12 features in the group.

The documentary begins in 1997 and chronicles a 12-year journey into the world of travellers and bare-knuckle fighting.

Knuckle opens with the wedding of Michael Quinn McDonagh and ends with him fighting against Paul Joyce. The two men had fought before, and Michael had lost because he was disqualified for biting.

Ten years later, in 2007, he sought a rematch in a bid to restore his honor. In another scene, two men are driven to a quiet country lane near Dundalk. Cars are used to block off access to the lane before the bare-knuckle fight begins.

A small group of less than ten people watch silently, as two men, walk to a clear area, strip to the waist and prepare to fight. The two men are James Quinn McDonagh (Michael’s older brother), and Paddy “The Lurcher” Joyce.

The Quinn McDonaghs and the Joyces are cousins, however, the two families have been engaged in one of the longest and most violent bare-knuckle boxing feuds in Ireland and England.

Funded by the Irish Film Board and BBC Storyville, Knuckle was directed, produced, shot and narrated by Palmer. The film’s other producer is Teddy Leifer (Road to Las Vegas) and the feature is edited by Oliver Huddleston (Cowboys in India). The remake rights to Knuckle have been snapped up by HBO, which is said to be re-making the documentary into a TV drama series.

Knuckle is showing exclusively at the Dublin Irish Film Institute.