Wolverhampton's bare-knuckle boxing event will cause 'reputational damage' to city

Plans to make Wolverhampton the UK’s home of bare-knuckle boxing have met with outrage from the leader of the city council’s Tory opposition.

The Hangar in Wolverhampton will host the fights
The Hangar in Wolverhampton will host the fights

Councillor Wendy Thompson told Wednesday’s meeting of full council that a proposed four-night stint of live fights in February would cause “reputational damage” to the city.

The Bare Fist Boxing Association has planned four fight nights at The Hangar live events venue, a former industrial unit located in Pearson Street near Graiseley, which will be streamed across the world – with the first bout taking place on February 26.

Councillor Thompson told members: “Does the council support the hosting of events of this nature in the city? And if not, what action is being taken to see that events like this are not held in our city?

“We appear to be the first authority in the country to be getting one of these events and one wonders why? Reputational damage is a concern – and February’s event is entitled ‘Nowhere to Hide’.

“Can I suggest that cabinet members consider this expression, go back to the drawing board and attempt to put a message out that events of this type are not welcome in Wolverhampton.”

Councillor Steve Evans, the city council’s cabinet member for environment and climate change, said: “I will speak factually, as that’s what counts. You know very well that the city council is not hosting this event.

“Yes – it may be hosted in Wolverhampton, which it is legally entitled to be.

“The city council has not put this event on. Why have they come to Wolverhampton? I can only guess that it’s because we are a centrally located region.

“Perhaps it’s where people who may have interests pass through on a regular occasion as it’s at the centre of the country.

“So what can the city council do about it? We have – and will continue to – contact West Midlands Police and their licensing services, and our licensing services will work with them.

“They will assess the venue to see if there is any wrongdoing, and if any is found, West Midlands Police have the right to stop the event,” he added.

“Hopefully this clears up the matter of what we’re entitled to do – and what we are doing. Do I think it’s the right event? Personally – no.

“Is the city council hosting it? No.

“Who can do anything about it? West Midlands Police – that’s who."

Bare-knuckle boxing is already banned in many countries due to its direct brutality and the higher risk of injury compared to official boxing.

Boxing had unlimited rounds and no gloves until 1867 when  the Marquess of Queensberry imposed rules.

Bare-knuckle boxing was prolific in the 17th century but then went underground, with unlicensed and often illegal fights taking place near fairgrounds and in secret locations.

Despite the British Boxing Board of Control’s opposition to bare-knuckle boxing, the Bare Fist Boxing Association insists they are a legitimate sporting body.

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