BARE-KNUCKLE boxing champion James Quinn McDonagh has come out swinging in defence of controversial reality show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
The traveller said he did not agree with everything on the Channel 4 show but said it was “great entertainment”, and had been a hit with at least half the travelling community.
It won a Royal Television Society award this year, but also provoked complaints for its portrayal of the gypsy and traveller communities and thousands joined protest campaigns against the show on social networking sites.
McDonagh said: “The Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is great entertainment, it’s a great programme to watch - all the travelling girls love it. They love watching it because it’s all about dresses and weddings and being princesses for the day.”
He is about to appear in a new film made by Ian Palmer called Knuckle, which McDonagh said would show the “male side of traveller life”.
He said: “There’s a lot of things on the Big Fat Gypsy Wedding that I wouldn’t agree with. There’s a lot of things on Knuckle that I wouldn’t like to see there. But I don’t have a choice in it because people need to know the truth.
“And Ian has done a great job in putting Knuckle out there and telling the truth, from a male perspective.”
The film follows a series of fights between feuding families over 12 years.
Palmer met McDonagh when he was asked to film his brother’s wedding in 1997, and was invited into the secretive world of organised bare-knuckle fighting in the traveller community.
The filmmaker said: “There’s been a lot of coverage of travellers in the press over the last year really, since Big Fat Gypsy Wedding came out.
“Really what I’m trying to do in this is get inside a community and over a long period of time allow people to come through, tell their own stories, to depict relationships in a three-dimensional way over a long period.
“This film really follows the lifecycle of three brothers and their relationships to two other families.
“There’s a complexity in this film and that’s the objective.
“It’s really about telling real life, real families, real people, not caricatures.
“Not reality TV - reality.”
Knuckle is released in cinemas on Friday.