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 554.


    So what is fighting per se? Is it to do with intent? Or is it an activity? What defines fighting per se?

  • rate this

    Comment number 553.

    Also I think the word 'fighting' especially in conjunction with the word 'cage' conjures up images of two boys beating each other to a bloody pulp, as you can tell from the thoughtless bile that has been spouted by many who have just read the headline.

    Thus I consider the usage of the term 'Cage Fighting' deliberate sensationalism aimed at provoking the kind knee-jerk over-reaction seen today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 552.

    I am not so sure that I disagree, per se, with kids doing violent sport, but I simply don't see the point. It seems to me as if the parents of these kids have 'issues'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 551.

    Kids all over the world train martial arts every day and there is no fuss about it, but in my opinion there was no need for the cage setting. Other than that can't see a problem, kids do a lot worse on their video game consoles these days.

  • rate this

    Comment number 550.

    I personally would not consider wrestling/grappling to be fighting per se. Saying that, everyone is different. I could call a turkey a turkey but another person could repeatedly call it a mongoose (and believe it to be so in their own head) in order to 'win' an argument. Who am I to judge but a lowly level headed average bloke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    Adults watching children wrestling for their entertainment. Children far too young to have voluntarily opted for this (American) brawling, acting under the influence of their parents; not barbaric, far more worrying. What IS barbaric is embryonic stem cell research which is now occurring under the aegis of this British Government, a distant but clear echo of Nazi eugenics- now that is a horror.

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    to be honest it looks more like an exhibition match to me. they arent actually striking each other. all though to the untrained eye it looks like mindless violence, the video actually showcases excellent brazilian jui-jitsu technique. i guess culture affects this aswell, in thailand children as young as 12 participate in full contact muay thai (yes professionally) but it is considered normal there

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.


    I don't know about that. How would you define fighting? At what point does violent physical contact, even if organised stops being fighting and starts being wrestling, grappling or no-gi Jiu Jitsu? What makes these different?

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    Would I want to watch two small boys fighting? no!

    Its not a sport at all.

    These people are sick, theyre not doing it for the kids they are doing it to satisfy their own needs or more probably their own inadequacies!

  • rate this

    Comment number 545.

    i think most people seem to have more of a problem with the atmosphere and setting of the events rather than the actual no-gi jui jitsu (or submission wrestling). i believe more people should educate themselves on the sport, this whole thing about calling it "cage fighting" or no holds barred appears to only be prominent in the UK, its called mixed martial arts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    Money, Money,It is a great exercise for kids, it installs confidence, discipline and respect into their minds.


    Cages are for animals,? maybe it's all right then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    I'm getting sick of hearing the "outrage" on the about boys cage-fighting. They were not "cage-fighting", they were putting on a grappling exhibition. Granted, the venue, and the fact that it was in a cage wasn't ideal, but it doesn't mean they were cage-fighting. To use the best analogy I can think of, if you play football on a basketball court, you're still playing football, not basketball.

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    The kids were NOT FIGHTING.

    Sweet Jebus, it's really not sinking in is it??

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    My son played the less barbaric sport of Rugby Union - many happy hours spent in Accident & Emergency with concussion, neck injury etc. etc. No sign of the NSPCC there!

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    I really have a problem with the logic that if these children were`nt cage-fighting then they`d be out on the streets causing trouble. What is that for logic ? are these honestly the only options available to an 8 year old child in Britain today? Is it really too naive to wish that children might be allowed to enjoy a childhood?

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    MFUDN "accept that these people are wrong and sick". Er, yeah. Being against young children grappling/fighting/whatever you want to call it/ in licensed premises is SO sick.

    This isn't about rugby, wrestling with your dad, judo, falling off bikes, self defence, or the safety of the damn floor. It's entirely about the spectacle of minors being put in such a position.

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    To be fair you can still die if you fall badly on a padded floor no matter how padded out it is, they probably should have been wearing safety gear. And there was definitely no need for a scantly clad women to be parading around in the middle of the fight between two children that just seems odd if anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    The kids are grappling, its called no-gi Jiu Jitsu, not MMA. No one in their right mind would let kinds compete in MMA, especially without adequate protection. Jiu Jitsu is a great exercise for kids, it installs confidence, discipline and respect into their minds. As for the "barbaric" cage, a cage is the safest place to perform combat sports as they can not fall out of a ring. Open Your Minds

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    Big deal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 535.

    Disgusting. The event, and many of the views expressed here, are amongst the most distasteful things I have seen and heard this year. If you enjoy gloating at the sight of children (or adults) fighting there is something seriously wrong with you. If this is you, I can only suggest you see a doctor as soon as possible.


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