Sports

BYB 9: JD Burns and his bare-knuckle romance and life

JD Burns and his wife, Skylar Burns, are bare-knuckle fighters on the BYB 9 card in Tampa, FL. Hear how JD fell in love with combat sports and his wife. 

Most husbands and wives get their kicks by going to dinner and a movie, but JD Burns and Skylar Burns satisfy their thrills by punching each other.

No, it’s not spousal abuse. It’s just bare-knuckle boxing training.

“Who wouldn’t want to get to spar their wife every once in a while?” JD Burns joked with FanSided. “I used to let her hit me a bunch of times when she first started, but now, I don’t let her hit me. She hits really hard now.”

JD and Skylar found love through combat sports, and their romance has them fighting on the same fight card at BYB 9 on March 12 at the Florida State Fair Grounds in Tampa, FL.

Long before JD found Skylar, his first love was combat sports.

Burns grew up in a martial arts household. His father, Rocky, was a black belt in taekwondo, and he shared his passion with his family. Soon, the entire Burns family was participating in martial arts.

“After a while, once he started seeing us kind of going through the ranks again and belts, he’s like, ‘Ah, just jump right back in and do it again’ kind of thing,” Burns said. “So it turned into like a family activity and training and everything like that.”

Burns picked up wrestling as he got older, and his father coached him. He was far from a natural, but that didn’t stop Burns from enjoying competing.

“Even though I grew up in a martial art household, and I was through MMA or Jiu Jitsu, or even wrestling through high school, I was the absolute worst,” Burns said. “In wrestling, I was, if you’ve ever seen Full Metal Jacket, I was Private Pile.”

Burns said that he discovered that you don’t have to be good at something to like it. But it helps, though.

Looking at Burns today, it’s hard to compare him to Vincent D’Onofrio’s character Private Pile.

At 6-feet-1, the bare-knuckle boxer fights as a middleweight. His tatted chest, which includes what looks like a zombie demon on his left pec, and his slim build make him an intimidating figure.

Burns turned professional in MMA in 2015. His debut didn’t go as planned, and he lost via submission to Bryan Nuro.

You can watch JD Burns, and Skylar Burns compete at BYB 9 on March 12 via BYB Extreme’s YouTube page


Initially, Burns was disappointed but came to a realization.

“The best part about martial arts is trial and error kind of thing,” Burns said. “You can have your technique, but then once you go out and fight, the videotapes not gonna lie.”

Burns isn’t afraid of losing. His philosophy is to enjoy his fighting journey, win, lose or draw.

Burns loves to fight. He also loves his wife, who ironically met him due to his connection to combat sports.

One night, after coaching a friend to an MMA victory, Burns and his crew celebrated at Applebee’s. Skylar was their waitress and had an interest in MMA. She spotted Burns friend’s title belt and struck up a conversation with the group.

“My guy has his big title belt on, and he’s all excited and peppy,” Burns said. “She saw it. She was all pumped and like, ‘Where you guys train at?’ We let her know, and she started coming to train at our gym for, I want to say, a few years.”

While at the Burns family gym in Lakewood, WA, Skylar and Burns spent a lot of time together, and their friendship developed into a romance. The glue that unites them is their shared love for combat.

“That’s kind of what she saw too, where we were just constantly sharpening each other each day in sparring,” Burns said.

Burns and Skylar started in MMA, but Burns was always fascinated with bare-knuckle boxing. As a teen, he watched Rio Heroes and other fringe gloveless bouts.

Something about it appealed to Burns, and once bare-knuckle boxing started to become popular in the U.S., Burns wanted to get involved. He took it upon himself to reach out to BYB Extreme.

“It was one of those things where it was like that movie Shawshank Redemption, where I’m just gonna keep writing letters and keep messaging and keep texting until I finally get a response,” Burns said.

Just like Andy Dufresne in the movie, Burns finally got a response. He submitted footage of one of his fights to BYB, which eventually signed him.

Skylar also got a shot in BYB. At BYB 9, Burns fights Jose Fernandez, and Skylar meets Miranda Barber. It’s the second time this husband and wife duo have appeared on a fight card together.

Burns and Skylar know the game and have a pretty carefree attitude about winning and losing.

“With her, I already know her demeanor is already good,” Burns said. “So I’m like, ‘Cool, you all right? Right. Alright, cool. Right after the fight, we’re going to go get drinks at this bar now. Alright, cool’.”
No matter what happens in the Trigon on March 12, Burns and Skylar are sure to enjoy their work. It’s their life, and they’re in it together.


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