Cage fighting for kids is slammed by experts as “barbaric”
by Steve White, Daily Mirror 22/09/2011
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HE is introduced to the huge crowd of cheering fight fans under his ring name of Lucas The Bone Breaker.
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But at 4ft 2in, and just eight years old, little Lucas Deelay scarcely seems to live up to his fearsome billing.
Suddenly the ashen-faced youngster’s bottom lip begins to quiver and he bursts out crying after slumping to the canvas with a leg injury.
The baying mob eggs him on… and he bravely struggles to his feet to continue the battle with his taller opponent – a comparative veteran aged nine.
This is the sickening spectacle of Britain’s newest so-called sport – junior cage-fighting.
Terrified children are paraded in front of hundreds of screaming adults who pay up to £25 a head to watch them beat hell out of each other.
And, amazingly, it’s all perfectly legal.
The latest shameful contest – slammed by child welfare experts as “barbaric” – was staged at a social club in Preston, Lancs.
Shocking video footage shows kids battling bare-handed and without protective equipment as 450 boozy spectators – mainly men – jeer and wolf-whistle at scantily-clad girls who appear between each of the nine-minute bouts.
Giving The Bone Breaker’s weight as 23 kilos – around three and a half stone – a commentator on the video says: “He’s earned his nickname by the age of eight – that’s what I find a little worrying.”
Cage Fighting Children (pic: Youtube)
In the first round, as the weeping schoolboy receives treatment for his injury, the commentator says: “He looks a bit distressed. That’s the danger with juniors, they are very young and can get very upset and swept away in the moment.”
In the second round, he admits: “This needs stopping, I think that’s enough. Everyone has seen enough.” But anguished Lucas is urged to carry on.
Last night experts were outraged after being shown the disturbing footage – and condemned those responsible for organising the bouts. Child psychologist, Emma Citron, described it as “the modern-day equivalent of bear baiting”. She added: “The violence could cause long-term psychological damage. And it can only encourage anti-social behaviour.”
Peter McCabe, chief executive of Headway, the brain injury association, said: “We’re hugely concerned. Children are being put at risk. Encouraging them to take part in cage fighting is dangerous and wrong.”
Local vicar Timothy Lipscomb, said: “It’s not the way we want children to be brought up. It should not be a public spectacle to see them bashing the living daylights out of each other.”
But, worryingly, impressionable kids are said to be taking up the “sport” in droves – with the blessing of their misguided parents.
Nick Hartley, the father of Lucas’s nine-year-old opponent Kian, defended the fight. But while shamelessly parading his son in front of a photographer he refused to have his own picture taken.
Mr Hartley, 33, of Preston, insisted: “None of the children was ever in danger. There’s no harm in cage fighting at all.
“If he wasn’t doing this he would probably be chucking stones at buses and giving people grief. But now he has learnt some respect and he would rather go training than play out.”
Mr Hartley, who is friends with event organiser Steven Nightingale, added: “Kian has chosen to do this on his own.
“I don’t force him – he does it because he wants to. He is quite good at it and we know he is safe while he is there. He is off the streets and not causing havoc.”
Mr Hartley, a breakdown recovery worker, said of Kian’s fight with Lucas: “The other lad was crying, but only because he’d never been beaten before.
“He wasn’t hurt, just upset. Before they go into the ring, the kids are told there is no punching or kicking. If a punch or a kick is thrown, the kid would be disqualified and be banned. There is no way any of the kids could get injured.
“There are paramedics there, referees and judges. Everything is done by the book.”
Michelle Anderson, who owns the Greenlands Labour Club where the fights were staged, added: “There’s nothing wrong with it. Would people rather these kids were out on the streets with guns and knives?”
But a spokesman for the British Association of Martial Arts said: “It’s shocking. Children this young shouldn’t be cage fighting. This kind of contest is usually reserved for experienced adults who have a background in boxing and martial arts.
“These kids haven’t fully developed physically and would need at least four years’ training before entering into this.
“If they have been trained properly and are fully supervised there could be a reason for it, but I can’t see it. At the very least they should be wearing head guards, groin guards, hand mits, and shin and instep protectors.” Harley Street physiotherapist Matt Todman added: “Strangleholds used in these fights could damage young necks. As joints grow, they have very delicate surfaces, and if you stress them you can change the way they grow.”
Cage fighting, also known as Mixed Martial Arts encompasses a range of fighting styles which take place in cages.
Reality star Alex Reid is the sport’s most high-profile figure in the UK.
In the adult version, contestants are allowed to punch, kick, wrestle, and knee and elbow each other into submission, though gouging, elbows in the spine and putting fingers in the opponent’s mouth are banned. In America cage fights involve children as young as four. Earlier this summer Bunny *Hawkersmith, 55, president of the United Fighters Alliance, pledged to bring the phenomenon to Britain.
He claimed: “This is a proper organised sport and millions watch the pay-per-view adult events for a reason. It’s no different to other contact sports.”
The British Medical Association said: “Cage fighting among young children is particularly disturbing, especially as they are not even wearing head guards.
“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.”
Organiser Mr Nightingale, 28, a professional cage fighter and gym owner admitted competitions started from the age of five. He said: “We do not let them strike – punch and kick – until the age of 14 or 15.”
Last night, as the NSPCC also expresssed deep concerns over the event, Lancashire police confirmed a probe had been ordered into the fights.
A spokesman said that although no laws appeared to have been broken, the whole issue had been referred to county council chiefs for investigation following fears that children may have been put at risk.
Isn't this just form of abuse?
by Alison Phillips, associate editor
STARE at the face of little Lucas and behind the blinked back tears you see a look of total confusion.
"What am I doing here?" he appears to be thinking, "with a group of fat idiots yelling at me to fight when my whole body hurts and I want my mum."
Surrounded by boozing blokes and trashy looking girls in suspenders, Lucas's fight takes place in a pit where losers compensate for their inadequacies by urging youngsters to fight.
Aren't we supposed to teach kids fighting isn't the answer? Yet here we have adults goading the children on between swigs of lager.
I have a son the same age as Lucas. Like most boys he tries to pretend he's tough. But beneath the bravado they are still little kids who must be nurtured to develop into well-balanced adults. Doesn't putting a child in a situation where they are being abused amount to child abuse? Everyone involved should be ashamed of the part they played in treating two little boys so badly.
Fighting is not as bad as it looks
by Chris Granet, MMA expert
MIXED martial arts is a sport that has always been misunderstood.
Contrary to popular belief, there are many rules and referees stop the fight immediately contestants can no longer defend themselves.
The kids aren't competing in MMA, but a form of submission wrestling with no strikes allowed.
Still, they should be wearing basic protective headgear, as in American college wrestling. Plus this organisation allows knee, leg and ankle locks which can potentially lead to long-term injuries, and there's the question as to whether the kids are licensed and insured.
This bout is no way reflective of the vast majority of conscientious trainers and parents who allow their children to take part in the sport.
These events should be in sports halls during the day, and not in tawdry social clubs at night.
No more of these bouts should take place to prevent MMA from getting an even worse name.
cage fighting kids
If it is truly just grappling, then I've got no problem with letting kids do it. But there's no way they should be fighting in front of an paying audience. Only parents have any real business watching their kids do this. People don't go out an pay to see other youth sports.