The dad of a nine-year-old cage fighter believes the sport has taught his son discipline and respect.
Kian Makinson, a pupil at Moor Nook Primary School, recently took part in an organised bout against another youngster at the Greenlands Labour Club, in Ribbleton, Preston.
The bout which was recorded by a professional film company and released online, shows the youngsters grappling in front of a packed crowd at the club.
There is no suggestion any of the bouts at the Reps Retribution night which included semi-professional fights, breached any rules or licence laws, and qualified medical staff were on hand throughout the event.
But the youngsters’ involvement attracted criticism from the British Medical Association which branded it ‘disturbing’.
Today Kian’s dad Nick Hartley, 33, of Grizedale Crescent, Ribbleton, told the Evening Post, his son’s involvement in the sport, also known as Mixed Martial Arts (MMS) has been hugely beneficial.
He said: “It has done him the world of good, it has really calmed him down.
“He used to be quite naughty but he has learned to respect people and he is not half as bad as what he used to be.
“His temper has calmed down and he is a brilliant little lad.”
Mr Hartley who works as a vehicle recovery driver, said he can understand people’s concerns about the bout taking place in an adult environment, but said it was an event his son relished.
He said: “It is more like wrestling, it is not as if they were punching and kicking.
“It was his first ever time to walk into a big ring, and he was a bit nervous but I hold my hands up to both kids, they did well.” Mr Hartley and Kian’s mum Tina Makinson, had taken him to try a number of different sports before he settled on cage fighting, due to the influence of coach Steven Nightingale.
Mr Nightingale, a professional cage fighter, runs the Reps MMA gym, off Longridge Road, Preston, holding sessions for fighters of all ages.
Mr Hartley said: “Before we took him to cage fighting we took him to karate, kick boxing and boxing but he did not like them.
“But mixed martial arts, he loves it, I think it is the way Steven is with them.
“Steven is absolutely brilliant with them, not just Kian but all of them. They all have a lot of respect for Steven and he has done really well from it.
“He enjoys what he does, he chose to do it off his own back.
“He would rather go up there (to the gym) than play out on the streets.”