Parents of cage-fighting boys aged 8 and 9 could be jailed for child cruelty (source: www.fightpractice.com)
Brutal: The boys are not wearing padding or head gear as they grapple and slam each other into the canvas
By Jaya Narain
Parents who encourage their young children to take part in cage fighting contests could be jailed for child cruelty, legal experts warn.
They face sentences of up to six months for allowing a boy or girl of primary school age to take part in the sport – described as ‘barbaric’ by the Culture Secretary.
And a Preston social club which hosted the boys’ fight reported in the Mail yesterday is to be investigated over whether it broke its licence conditions.
The revelations come after a video emerged showing Kian MacKinson, nine, and a boy of eight, whose father has requested he remain anonymous, kicking, shoving and grappling in front of baying adults.
The footage caused outrage among child and medical experts, who called for a police and social services investigation.
Upsetting: The young boy is seen here crying in the middle of a fight, and is then attended by medical experts who check if he can carry on with the bout Battle: Kian MacKinson, nine, with an eight-year-old whose father has asked for his face to be obscured
A source at the Crown Prosecution Service said: ‘A young child being forced to take part in any violent sport could constitute child cruelty.
As such, a failure to protect that child from harm could lead to a minimum 12-week sentence or a maximum 26-week sentence.’ Social services bosses in Lancashire confirmed they had launched an inquiry into the cage fighting, which is also known as mixed martial arts, to ‘consider any child safety concerns’.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday condemned the fighting among children as young as eight as ‘barbaric’.
‘Getting more young people doing sport is great but I do ask myself whether it really does have to be in a cage,’ he said.
‘It feels very barbaric and I know there are concerns about children that young doing a sport like that.’
He added he was ‘shocked and surprised’ by claims there were no restrictions on children appearing in such adult environments.
His comments came after the British Medical Association, the NSPCC and Safechild branded child cage fighting ‘disturbing and sick’. A British Association of Martial Arts spokesman insisted: ‘Children this young shouldn’t be involved in cage fighting.’
Lancashire Police officers have decided to take no further action either on a child safety level or licensing of the premises.
It emerged last night, however, that council chiefs have ordered a licence review for the Greenlands Labour Club and will ask the venue not to put on any similar events involving juveniles.
The deputy leader of Preston City Council, John Swindells, said: ‘I am appalled by the incident of cage fighting involving children taking place in Preston.
‘Having checked the club’s licence there is a condition that children should not be on the premises at public events after 6pm and I think it needs to be looked into whether this condition has been breached.
Parental support: Kian with his father Nick Hartley, the youngster features in the shocking video which shows hundreds of baying adults goading the primary-age boys to fight each other
Professional appearance: Just like in an adult event, the tiny fighters have an entourage.
Seconds out: The boys are brought together in the middle of the cage fighting ring, prepared to do battle
Grappling: The pair begin their fight slowly, testing out the space between them as they start their bout
‘As such, I have now made a request for the licence at Greenlands Labour Club to be reviewed. A formal licensing review process will now follow.’
That could take up to three months as the club is allowed 28 days to make representations on the matter.
A similar period is then opened up for members of the public to have their say.
Even some mma gear reviews have mention the shocking video that emerged on Wednesday shows Kian and the unnamed boy fighting without protective padding or head gear.
One of them is shown apparently receiving medical attention for a leg injury and bursting into tears.
Fight: Before long, they have hit the canvas and take turns in pinning each other down
Young fighters: The children wear no padding or headguards for the ten minute bout in Preston
The event was held almost a fortnight ago with about 250 adults paying £25 a ticket to watch 14 fights. The other clashes involved semi-professional adults.
Sources said the night was a boisterous alcohol-fuelled affair.
Sharefight, the company commissioned to film the event, said the video had been removed from the internet ‘out of respect’ for parents and others who had shown concern.
The event took place in a ‘safe environment’, a spokesman added.
Greenlands Labour Club has also defended its decision to hold the event.
Victory: The fight ends to cheers from the adoring crowd
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