Duchess defends Garden cage-fight to the world

A CAGE-FIGHT which will take place in the Alnwick Garden later this month has punched well above its weight, by attracting major media coverage around the world.

As well as national newspapers, TV channel Fox News has reported the event – dubbed Battleground, which features both mixed martial arts (MMA) and kickboxing bouts and is in aid of soldiers’ charity Help for Heroes – on its US and Australian networks.

But while the sport has drawn some controversy in recent weeks – particularly following a video of two children involved in a contest in Lancashire – the main focus has been on the event’s patron, the Duchess of Northumberland.

And she has come out fighting in favour of staging the show, as well as defending the sport against its detractors.

“Some people see it as unexpected and incongruous – having a cage-fight with the Grand Cascade in the background,” said the Duchess, who is an avid martial arts fan and trains with local club DFM. “I say it’s what the Garden has always been about – providing a space for every part of the community.

“There is a huge number of martial arts clubs and groups in the North East and it’s really important to me that we can show the constructive benefits and discipline that these sports bring.

“It’s not the first time we have had an event like this at the Garden, so I’m really surprised that this time, news of it has gone round the world.

“I would hope that every year we will be doing something like this.”

Phil Doherty, one of the show organisers and editor of Martial News, said: “I don’t think any other fight show in the UK – with maybe the exception of the UFC and BAMMA – has ever had this amount of mainstream media attention. We always get great support from the county’s own newspaper, the Northumberland Gazette, who are always brilliant, but to get this type of media spotlight is fantastic.”

The show will feature some of the best fight teams from across the UK, including Combat Base NE, Aiki-kickboxing, The Fight Academy, Phoenix Thai and MMA, Shotai Kai Martial Arts, Spartans Gym, Kuei-Ling Martial Arts, Vision Fight Club, and Team Fightway – BA Marseille France. It will also be streamed live on the web, on the new Combat Sports Live TV channel.