I watched in  horror on Sky News about children as young as eight having been filmed “cage fighting” in footage that medical experts have called “disturbing”.

The violent sport, also known as “Mixed Martial Arts”, combines martial arts, wrestling and boxing but with few rules. Contestants are allowed to punch, kick and elbow each other into submission, however biting and eye-gouging would see a contestant disqualified.

Read here the full article and watch the EXTREMELY disturbing video in The Daily Telegraph

Paul Jackson, manager of Warriors Gym – a centre for kickboxing, self defence and fitness – questioned the lack of protective gear.

He said: “The main question I would ask is why were the parents allowing them to do that? I wouldn’t really agree with anything like it.

“It’s like a circus performance but if it’s consenting adults, that’s different. It depends on what the rules were as well.

“If they were joint-locking then I’d be questioning that because the bones aren’t developed fully yet.”

Chris Cloke, Head of Child Protection Awareness at the NSPCC, said: “We would strongly discourage parents from letting their children take part in this kind of fighting.

“It’s quite disturbing that some of those involved in the bouts were as young as eight, an age when they are still developing, physically and mentally.

“The organisers of these activites should think very carefully before allowing children to be involved when they are egged on to inflict violence.”

However, event organiser Steven Nightingale, 28, a professional cage fighter who runs Preston’s Reps MMA gym, said the sport was safe and growing in popularity.

He said: “Competitions start from the age of five, it is definitely a big up-and-coming sport. It is all based around martial arts.

“The kids are not getting hit or anything at all when they are under age. We do not let them strike – punch and kick – until the age of 14 or 15.”

Asked about the crying child during one bout, he said: “The kid has never been beaten before, he is the one who wins the gold medals.”

Michelle Anderson, owner of Greenlands Labour Club, who attended the event, defended the spectacle, saying: “There was nothing wrong with it.

“The kids were there to fight, they have fought before. The parents were there. Would people rather these kids were out on the streets with guns and knives?”