True Stories

Gypsy Blood

Radio Times
Review by:
Jane Rackham

If you’re hoping for a frilly film about gypsy weddings, you’re in for a shock. This is a raw, no-holds-barred look at the gypsy tradition of sorting arguments by bare-knuckle fighting and the general violence that underscores traveller culture. Toddlers strike boxing poses while seven-year-old boys are encouraged to join in violent pursuits such as cock fighting.
Although Leo Maguire has shot this in an almost hauntingly beautiful style at times, it’s still a bloody, coarse film about gypsy masculinity and a viciously brutal way of life that is anathema to most of us.

About this programme

True Stories documentary following two Traveller families and their bare-knuckle fighting traditions, revealing the violence that can erupt as they battle for respect in their communities. Romany gypsy Fred Butcher nearly dies in a machete attack when a day of drinking and sparring goes horribly wrong, while seven-year-old Francie Doherty is caught between learning to read and write at school, and being taught to fight with his fists at home.

Cast and crew


Leo Maguire
Executive Producer
Russell Barnes
Executive Producer
Molly Milton
Rob Wilkins