Police to investigate boys' fighting event in Preston

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

Police are to investigate whether two boys were put at risk by taking part in a fight in a cage in Lancashire.

The two eight-year-old boys were filmed fighting at a Labour club in Preston.

The video, shot at Greenlands Labour Club on 10 September, shows them wrestling with each other on the floor in front of an audience of adults.

Police said on Wednesday night that they would be looking into "whether there were issues surrounding the safety of children".

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: "There is no issue with the club's licence to stage such events.

"We were aware that the mixed martial arts night was taking place but we were not aware that children were taking part."

Club manager Michelle Anderson, 39, previously said that they had worked closely with police, adding that the boys "loved it" and were not in danger.

"The children were not doing cage fighting, they were just grappling, there was no punching, kicking or striking," she said.

"The event was perfectly legal. There was only one fight for kids, which was a demonstration fight, the other fights were for adults."

She added: "It's just people who know nothing about the sport who want to contribute."

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

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

"He likes to do it, he's never forced to do it, he wants to do it, so leave him to do it."

He added: "He'll never get hurt, it's a controlled sport he could never get hurt.

"Until he gets a bit older and he starts doing physical contact, kicking and punching, then maybe, but at his age it's wrestling, like a grappling."

A British Medical Association (BMA) spokesman 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".

'Quite disturbing'

The promoter of the event, Marcus Holt, said: "There are no kicks, there are no punches, so there's no need for things like head guards and other wear like that.

"With the children, it's all amateur bouts, it's all demonstration grappling submissions."

Chris Cloke, head of child protection awareness at the NSPCC, said: "We would strongly discourage parents from letting their children take part in this kind of fighting.

"It's quite disturbing that some of those involved in the bouts were as young as eight, an age when they are still developing, physically and mentally.

"The organisers of these activities should think very carefully before allowing children to be involved when they are egged on to inflict violence."

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