Boys' fight in cage 'very barbaric' says Jeremy Hunt


The organiser of the event in Preston said it did not breach any rules and insists children's safety was not compromised

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A fight between two boys watched by adults at a cage-fighting event has been described as "very barbaric" by the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The boys, aged eight and nine, were filmed wrestling in a cage at a Labour club in Preston in front of about 250 adults on 10 September.

Club manager Michelle Anderson said the boys were not put in danger.

But the deputy leader of Preston's Labour-led council called on the club not to stage any more junior fights.

Start Quote

I would liken it to a game of chess, it's about outsmarting your opponent”

End Quote Spokesman for Sharefight Company which filmed event

A video posted on YouTube showed the boys had no protective padding or head gear at the event at Greenlands Labour Club. They were also seen receiving medical attention.

'Share the shock'

"Getting more young people doing sport is great but I do ask myself whether it really does have to be in a cage," Mr Hunt said.

"It just feels to me, it feels very barbaric and I know there are concerns about children that young doing a sport like that.

"I think if adults choose to do it, that's one thing. I suppose I do share some of the shock.

"We have to recognise that sport has a very, very important role but I think with this particular sport, I think some people will ask some questions."

Councillor John Swindells, deputy leader of Preston City Council, who said the council would be reviewing the club's licence, said: "I would ask Greenlands Labour Club not to put on any future cage fighting events involving children.

Nick Hartley said the fight was "not one bit dangerous"

"I will certainly be asking the licensing committee to tighten the conditions so that such events involving children are not allowed to happen in Preston.

"I, and many people in Preston, cannot just ignore or condone this cage fighting event involving children taking place in our city."

Club manager Michelle Anderson, 39, earlier said the boys were not cage-fighting but "grappling".

She said the boys "loved it" and were not in danger.

The father of one of the boys, Nick Hartley, said his son had not been at risk

"He loves the sport. It's not one bit dangerous, it's a controlled sport," he said.

'Threat of injury'

But the activity has been criticised by children's charity the NSPCC.

It said the the fight was "disturbing" and warned parents against allowing youngsters to take part in this sort of sport while they were developing.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said sports such as boxing and cage-fighting were "sometimes defended on the grounds that children learn to work through their aggression with discipline and control".

But it said many other sports, such as athletics, swimming, judo and football, "require discipline but do not pose the same threat of brain injury".

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the event felt "very barbaric"

Sharefight, the company commissioned to film the event, said the video had been on the internet for two weeks without complaint.

It was taken down on Wednesday "out of respect" for parents and others who had shown concern, a spokesman said.

He said the event had taken place in a "safe environment" and under strict conditions.

"What took place was safer than what happens in judo clubs and rugby training grounds up and down the country," he said.

"People are reacting to the negative stereotype around cage-fighting and the setting within a cage, but a cage makes it safer for the participant because it stops them falling from the ring.

"The event involving the children was submission wrestling. Contact between the participants was restricted at all times.

"I would liken it to a game of chess, it's about outsmarting your opponent rather than overcoming them."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    What would you rather have - kids learning to fight in a controlled environment under adult supervision, or kids let loose on the streets, smashing up shop fronts and stealing without adult supervision? Boys will always fight, and have done for years - I'd rather my kids do it in a controlled environment than out of sight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    I agree the setting is not right and children should not be part of an adult MMA show
    however there is no striking its purly grappling and is no different to Jiu jitsu or Judo or Wrestling
    Please dont assume this is brutal purly because of the cage there is far less conatact here than in Rugby. And the atmosphere can be even worse at U10's football matches, it has been completly sensationalised

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    We have to be the most utterly mindless and hypocritical society in the history of civilisation. We whine incessantly because it's not safe to go out with violent "youfs" on the streets, but then we try to ban their means of channeling their aggression and frustrations (be it via videogames, grime music, or sanctioned safely-organised fights in this case), thus making sure they remain alienated.

  • Comment number 411.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    Both my son and daughter aged 11 & 15 respectivly fight in Muay Thai kick boxing fights and are fit and healthy
    Stop complaining and stop breeding fat couch potatoes
    let your kids live.

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    The Guardian reported New Philanthropy Capital recently concluded that its campaigning is "flawed and naïve" and that there is "zero evidence" that £250m the NSPCC has spent on its recent "Full Stop" campaign actually benefited any children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    Low IQ, low academic achievement, low self esteem, low expectations now make the kids follow in your footsteps. Yeah great.

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    this is a sport like any other, i dont see complaints on young boxers, judo or any other contact sport. cage fighting is a skilled and very disciplined sport, i have more problems with wrestling as the wwe show high risk practised moves that children are not trained or understand how to do but roleplay these out that end up in broken bones or somtimes fatal accidents

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    378.Whistling Neil
    I can't say the sport appeals to me as the notion of working towards knocking seven bells out of another human being is just a bit primitive no matter the skill involved"

    In MMA you don't have to win by knockout, some of the most successful barely throw a kick or punch. Regardless, MMA practitioners are some of the most conditioned athletes on the planet, a worthy goal, no?

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    I agree with the comment that this can be compared to the worst excesses of the Roman Empire. What I found difficult to comprehend was that, when interviewed, the father of one of the boys defended his actions in letting his son take part in this barbaric practice, by stating that it stopped him causing trouble on street corners. Unbelievable! Surely it is HIS place to do that!

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    Seriously, what really is teh difference between this and a martial arts tournament. Should I be criticized for encouraging my nine year old daughter to take part in Tae Kwon Do, to teach her discipline, provide her with skills to protect herself from the real thugs in todays society. And did I along with many other parents enjoy watching their children in tournaments?
    Heck yeah.
    tsk tsk me

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    Not alone is this carry-on dangerous; it's inhumane & morally wrong. I saw one of the children's head hit the floor, there is no head protective gear in sight, which is dumbfounding. What if one of these children developed a clot or such other injury to the brain? Now this practice should be stopped, for it's not a sport, it is cruel manipulation. It should be made illegal by the end of this week.

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    I am not sure I understand the outrage at this. A cage is a sort of ring not terribly different from one with ropes, and we've children competing in front of audiences in boxing for a long time now with little protestation.
    I boxed as a child and I fought in venues with hundreds of adults in attendance, drinking and socializing. It's not a bad thing. It prepared me for performing under scrutiny.

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    How dare the spectators cheer, why they don't remain silent like they do at rugby and football games i'll never know - they must be chav scum, only chav scum cheer support and enjoy themselves

  • Comment number 400.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    I posted an earlier comment recommending the prosecution of the parents, organisers and audience. I would like to extend this to include all those contributors defending this barabaric and perverted event. If police found the same situation with two dogs fighting, everyone present would be arrested prosecuted for cruelty to animals, so how can the same treatment of children be permissible?

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    I hope the parents realise they are subjecting their children to something that the ancient Romans only did to slaves; compelling them to fight for adult spectators.

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    Interesting 'terms' from the BBC like 'blows' and what not. This is competitive sport, I was fencing with a 'sword' at 9, children play football in front of hundreds. What exactly is this story about? A massive fake bleeding of stony hearts. I think the NSPCC should watch their mouths, have you seen a children's home run by these filthy people? Adults having their 'feelings' hurt? A joke?

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    There should be a law on what the press can profit of !!!!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.

    Kids are able to Box, do Karate, play football/ Rugby at this age...all of which carry as high or higher in some cases risk of injury. I feel the reporting in the news is unduly biased as the reporter clearly doesn't understand MMA. These kids were only allowed to wrestle meant it was a "catch wrestling"/ Brazilian Jiu jitsu showcasing of their skills. The cage is part of the regs of the sport.


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