From Cell Block to Squared Circle: Reggie Barnett Jr’s Rise in BKFC

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On July 23rd, Reggie Barnett Jr. could go from ex-con to combat sports world champion when he faces Jarod Grant for the BKFC bantamweight world championship. With a 6-2 record in the squared circle, Barnett Jr. finally gets his opportunity to shine when the promotion returns to Tampa, Florida later this month.

The Early Beginnings of Reggie Barnett Jr

Growing up, Barnett Jr. was a natural competitor, surrounded by the fight game thanks to his father’s own success as an amateur boxer. Reggie Barnett Sr. who owns the 757 Boxing Club in Virginia won the Silver Gloves, Golden Gloves, and Junior Olympic titles throughout a career that spanned 90 bouts. 

Reggie Barnett Jr. had a vastly different path to combat sports than his father. While speaking to, Barnett Jr. discussed his propensity for fighting at an early age and how that was taken advantage of by local gangs.

“Even when I was a kid, it was already known that I could fight, and I was lost at that point, so I would be fed alcohol, taken around to places, and they’d watch me beat people up,” said Barnett Jr. “The gangs would get together and pick who they wanted to fight. Those people would fight, and that would settle the beef so nobody got killed.”

In 2011 while on probation, Barnett Jr. was arrested on drunk driving and drug charges that landed him in prison just before Christmas. On October 14, 2014, Barnett Jr. was finally released. Having used his time away to strengthen both his body and mind, Barnett Jr. came out of Indian Creek Correctional Center with a clean slate and a new sense of purpose.

Reggie Barnett Jr. Says Bare-Knuckle Fighting Changed His Life

Following his release, Reggie Barnett Jr. resumed a prospective career in combat sports. Competing in boxing and MMA, Barnett Jr. found his true love in the BKFC.

“I love bare-knuckle fighting,” he said. “It’s as close as you can get to a street fight, but it’s such a huge platform that it’s pushed me so much to improve and get better. When you know you’re competing against some of the best guys in the world, in the sport that you love to do, it pushes you to become better, inside and outside the ring. I always say that fighting saved my life, and bare-knuckle changed my life.”

Today, Barnett Jr. is a lead technician for a pest-control company and is engaged to be married. His scheduled bout on July 23rd will be the biggest fight of his combat sports career, but Barnett Jr. says that the biggest fight of his life was always “against himself.” 

There may have been some bumps in the road, but Reggie Barnett Jr. is now winning that fight. You can watch him attempt to win BKFC gold on July 23rd via the BKFC app and

Featured image credit to BFKC

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