A cage fighting event which included children as young as eight has created a storm of controversy.
Footage of the bouts posted on the Internet have provoked an outcry with the British Cage Fighting Association describing parents who allow their children to take part as “morons.” The event was staged at the Greenlands New Labour Social Club in Preston. At one point, one of the schoolboy fighters is seen to break down in tears. Lancashire police say they will now investigate whether children were put at risk by taking part in the event.
But the British Medical Association (BMA) has condemned the practice describing the Preston event as “particularly disturbing” as the children are not wearing headguards. It said: “Boxing and cage fighting are sometimes defended on the grounds that children learn to work through their aggression with discipline and control. “The BMA believes there are many other sports, such as athletics, swimming, judo and football, which require discipline but do not pose the same threat of brain injury.”
The NSPCC has joined the condemnation of the fights saying that at that age children’s bodies are still developing physically and mentally.
But father Nick Hartley told Sky News that he was happy for his nine-year-old son Kian to take part. “It’s more wrestling than fighting… there’s no punching and kicking, it’s a controlled sport. “He (Kian) enjoys doing it, so leave him to do it.”
Michelle Anderson owns the club which staged the event. She said: “The children were grappling. The cage fighting only comes when they get older. “We hold boxing events here and kids fight then and nobody’s complained about that. “It’s just the name cage fighting that people are getting annoyed at or they don’t know anything about it so they criticise it because they know nothing about.”
One of the men responsible for training the children is Andy Whiteside. He said: “It’s being blown out of all proportion. “(Our gym) takes part in tournaments where it’s the exact same, it just isn’t in a cage.” Despite the criticism the club says it intends to stage similar events in the future.