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Young boxers caught up in violent brawl in York Hall

PUBLISHED: 18:00 25 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:38 05 October 2010

TERRIFIED youngsters competing in a boxing tournament in the East End were caught up in a violent brawl on Saturday as groups of men rampaged through York Hall with baseball bats and shovels. Young competitors, their parents and trainers who had gather

TERRIFIED youngsters competing in a boxing tournament in the East End were caught up in a violent brawl on Saturday as groups of men rampaged through York Hall with baseball bats and shovels.

Young competitors, their parents and trainers who had gathered in Bethnal Green for the finals of the 2010 London Boys club championships watched in horror as half-way through the competition two groups of around men with hoods over their heads ran into the hall.

Witnesses claim that screams echoed through the hall as the 30 rioters, described by onlookers as having scars on their faces, flooded through the crowds armed with baseball bats and shovels.

Panicked parents put their children, some as young as two-years-old, in the boxing ring for safety but were soon forced out when chairs were thrown into the ring.

The crowd eventually dispersed as onlookers say a man was chased out of the building and onto Old Ford Road.

Members of Bethnal Green's Repton Boxing Club were competing in the tournament and Chairman David Robinson said: "It was the worst incident I have ever seen.

"There was a minor scuffle at the start. We saw one man grab another man's neck but no one took any notice.

"And then ten minutes later one gang came in with weapons and then a big group of men came in the other door.

"It was scary. No one knew where to go as weapons and chairs were being thrown everywhere. The kids were screaming.

"People were there for an afternoon of entertainment not to suffer something like that."

Officers from Tower Hamlets CID say they are investigating a "disturbance" that happened "near to" York Hall which left a 34-year-old man from Wembley with a broken arm.

Bosses from London Youth who organised the tournament have since confirmed the brawl was a "planned attack" and have cancelled the London championships on "safety grounds".

And insiders claim the fight kicked-off following an argument between two families, believed to be travellers.

London Youth's Chief Executive Nick Wilkie said: "We appreciate entirely that this action is very disappointing for the boys and their trainers and families and we regret this as much as everybody. However, our over-riding concern is safety.

"This is not a question of a spat but a very serious issue involving a planned attack with weapons.


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