Charity boxing events axed at Portsmouth leisure centre after audience brawl breaks out
CHARITY fundraisers are devastated that boxing events have now been axed at a Portsmouth leisure centre after a brawl broke out at an MMA match.
The end of an Ultra MMA event to raise money for Cancer Research at Mountbatten Leisure Centre in Portsmouth dissolved into chaos after two groups in the audience were involved in a spat that saw tables flipped, chairs thrown and a 46-year-old man needing medical attention for his injuries.
Now boxing events have been cancelled at the leisure centre run by BH Live for Portsmouth City Council.
A spokesman for BH Live said: ‘There is no ban on boxing events in our venues. Public safety is our top priority and following the incident at the Mountbatten Centre on Saturday, March 23 we have made the difficult decision to postpone the next few boxing events at the Mountbatten Centre and Pyramids Centre pending an internal review.’
Former Pompey footballer Dave Waterman was due to stage his annual charity boxing match at the site on April 6 for The Oakley Waterman Caravan Foundation but was told at the weekend that he would have to find a new place to have his event.
He said: ‘It is a real shame that this has happened because of some mindless idiots and when the centre told me I was truly gutted.
‘My first thought was for the fighters and coaches who have all worked so hard for the last three months and it is just not fair.’
The charity, which was set up by Dave and wife Lorraine 12 years ago in memory of their son, offers respite care to families with children who have life-threatening illnesses, has run a boxing event for the last four years and raised £100,000.
He added: ‘I can understand the reasons why but I am disappointed in the Mountbatten Centre but luckily Havant Leisure Centre came up trumps. We also had Fareham Leisure Centre and Jack Edwards from The Gaiety Bar contact us as well offering help so everyone has rallied round to help.’
A post on The Oakley Waterman Caravan Foundation Facebook page read: ‘Due to some moronic behaviour by a few individuals at an MMA show, Mountbatten have cancelled all boxing events.
‘This is completely out of our control, and as a result we have been frantically trying to find an alternative solution.
‘From the charity’s perspective, the money raised at our boxing night funds the maintenance of the Lodge for a year, providing hundreds of families with an opportunity to create memories that they can treasure. Sadly for some it is their last happy memory with their child and we need to raise the funds to continue to give families this opportunity.’
The charity apologised for the inconvenience offered refunds to any ticket holders who can not make the new date of Saturday, April 13 at Havant Leisure Centre.
To buy tickets visit tickettailor.com/events/oakleywatermancaravanfoundation/232455
Nigel Holding from Waterlooville was part of the group who trained for eight weeks before taking part in the event on Saturday night.
He said: ‘We raised over £8,000 but we know that the only thing people are going to remember now is the fighting that went on in the audience.
‘I have no idea what started it but it has made us all rather angry and upset that this charity match was ruined right at the end with people throwing chairs and flipping tables.’
Video footage of the fight was shared across social media with many condemning the behaviour.
Officers are still appealing for witnesses and anyone with footage of the incident.
A police spokeswoman said: ‘We are asking anyone who was at the Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth on Saturday (23 March) who has mobile phone footage of, or witnessed, a public order incident at about 9.50pm to contact us.
‘A 46-year-old man was treated for cuts and bruises following a dispute between two groups of people.
‘If you have mobile phone footage please email it to [email protected]
‘If you saw what happened or know anyone that was involved please call 101 quoting Op Edgehill / 44190101842.
‘Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.’
A spokesperson for Ultra Events said: ‘Since 2015, we have staged 15 events in Portsmouth and more than 10,000 spectators have attended our shows. They have all taken place without incident.
‘We understand it must be very upsetting for the people who came along to support their friends and family taking part in the event.
‘From our perspective it is important to clarify that Ultra Events were not responsible for the security on Saturday evening, this was the responsibility of BH Live, who run the venue. The sort of behaviour which took place on the night is not acceptable at any of our events and we are speaking to BH Live about security. ‘A total of £156,675 has been raised for Cancer Research UK in Portsmouth through Ultra Events with over 750 people taking part. Those taking part in Saturday night’s event raised over £8,500. ‘So far Ultra Events raised a total of £17 million pounds for Cancer Research UK.’