Promoter fears backlash after mass brawl at boxing event in Leeds

A boxing promoter has spoken in defence of the sport after a mass brawl broke out at an event in Leeds this weekend.

Tuesday, 21st February 2017, 1:27 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 9:37 am

Footage shared online showed dozens of people becoming involved in violent scenes at the Pavilion Suite in Elland Road as punches and chairs were thrown.

It left three people needing hospital treatment and meant the main fight lined up by Essex-based Golden Gloves Boxing Promotions was abandoned.

Lee Murtagh, of Saoirse Promotions, said: "I'm worried it's going to come back and stigmatise people from Leeds, those of us who are promoting week in and week out.

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"People are going to say it's barbaric. It's not always like that.

"I've been promoting for 10 years now. I've never had to have any police to up to my events."

Police are currently investigating the disorder at Saturday night's event, which is said to have involved around 40 people.

And Leeds United, which owns the Pavilion Suite, has already said it will no longer host white collar boxing shows as a result.

The shows typically feature men and women who work in other professions and do not have professional boxing experience.

Mr Murtagh, 43, has been boxing since he was eight and runs Bethlehem Boxing Club in Leeds as well as promoting fights.

He said he was concerned that issues with one event could impact on all grassroots boxing events in the city.

"What makes me worry is the city council, the licensers and the police," he said. "They can quite easily put a halt to it."

He said he had spoken to police this week about an event that he is staging at the Aria Suite in Woodhouse on Friday as he wanted to check there were no additional requirements in light of the trouble on Saturday.

"Everybody has the idea that these sort of shows are unlicensed, unruly shows. It's not that at all," he said.

"The shows at the Aria suite are family orientated. I get lots of kids along from the boxing clubs and it's free for them.

"I invite anybody with a bad word to say about it to come down and take a look at my shows."

Danny Morgan, who organised Saturday's event, previously said: “I have been involved in boxing since I was seven and have never seen anything like it.

“We have been working on this for months to make sure everything was safe and had more security than is required but you could not have predicted what happened. It was crazy and I want to apologise to the genuine people that came to support the fighters.”