HBO is reportedly closed to deal to acquire the rights to director Ian Palmer’s Knuckle, a documentary about Irish bare-knuckle brawlers, and plan to turn it into a television drama for the network.

The documentary, which premiered at 2011 Sundance Film Festival and is competing in the festival’s world cinema documentary competition, tells the story of the Travellers, a nomadic ethnic group that settles disputes through ritualized bare-knuckle fighting. The film tracks a long-simmering feud between two Traveller families — the Quinn McDonaghs and the Joyces.

Residing in Ireland and parts of the United Kingdom, the Travellers are a traditionally nomadic ethnic group with their own customs and a deep sense of clan pride, despite being interrelated by marriage within their small population. When conflicts arise, arguments are often settled through ritualized, bare-knuckle fighting.

Director Ian Palmer followed members of the Traveller community for 12 years and became privy to a decades-long family feud of Hatfield-McCoy proportions. At the center of the conflict is James, the confident, yet reluctant, defender of the Quinn McDonaghs, who is frequently challenged to fight his cousins, the Joyces. An outsider in a secretive world, Palmer waited years before he began to learn the reasons for the animosity between the rival clans.

Disturbingly raw, yet compulsively engaging, KNUCKLE offers candid access to a rarely seen, brutal world where a cycle of bloody violence seems destined to continue unabated. | Sundance Film Festival

The director of the documentary, Ian Palmer, and producer Teddy Leifer’s Rise Films will produce the show for HBO along with Rough House Pictures.

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