While living in Liverpool in his early twenties, Bennett became a champion bare-knuckle boxer, going on to fight in various locations throughout Europe. He competed in a match dubbed by the bare knuckle underworld as "The Battle of Buda", in which he defeated a reputable opponent for a substantial cash prize. Afterwards, as he walked through an alleyway in search of a taxi to the airport, Bennett was stabbed with an eight-inch blade by someone who attempted to steal the cash. He has refused to elaborate on the incident for legal reasons, but the assailant incurred serious injuries, and Bennett escaped with the cash despite significant blood loss. The attack left him with a 12-inch scar that stretches from his upper back to halfway down his right triceps and the punches he took during his bare-knuckle career left him with a disfigured nose, but he has expressed no regret over that period of his life. He incorporated his bare-knuckle career into his WWE gimmick at the request of Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, being introduced to the WWE audience as a European bare-knuckle champion who had fought on the streets of Europe. His Wasteland move is named after the site of many of his fights.