YOUNG fighters from the region had to flee to safety from a boxing tournament after men carrying weapons turned up and a mass brawl broke out.

Chairs were thrown and intruders fighting with a spade, axes, knives and hammers caused chaos at England Boxing National Youth Championships.

People fled the Sports Connexion Arena in Coventry in terror at around 3.20pm on Saturday after what is thought to be a feud between rival travelling families boiled over.

As well as the disturbance inside the venue at least one car was damaged in the car park.

It led to the cancellation of all boxing bouts due to be held later on Saturday and Sunday.

Megan Bainbridge, 17, from Pelton, near Chester-le-Street, had won her semi-final fight and was due to take part in the final today.

Megan, one of the best female boxers for her age in the country, trains with Brandon Boxing Club.

The Northern Echo:

Megan Bainbridge with Kara-Mai

Her head coach, Alex Oliver, was there with his disabled daughter, Kara-Mai, who is ten and has Down Syndrome and autism.

Mr Oliver said: “It was very scary. It was like a scene from Mad Max.

“We were in the venue and it just went up. There were chairs flying and all sorts. There was reports of people with hammers. They did have weapons, axes and all sorts.

“We got out the back of the building to get away from the trouble.

“We had parked in a disabled bay and the car next to ours was absolutely smashed to bits.

“Fortunately, they must have been accurate with their hammer because they did not hit our car. It is just mindless.

“These people have not just ruined one day. It is all of the training and dieting that has gone into it. They are just are young and have sacrificed a lot for this.

“We have travelled down and spent money on accommodation and fuel. It has all been wasted.”

The Northern Echo:

Megan Bainbridge

Two young fighters from Spennymoor Boxing Club were also taking part in the competition.

Macy Gallone had won her semi-final while Carmel Carey was unable to compete in hers because of the riot.

A spokesman for the club said: “It was really bad. It was terrifying for the kids. “It was like something out of the Wild West. Security were opening the fire doors and getting the bairns out. It is shocking you would think that no-one would that when there are kids around. You just cannot imagine it.

“We have put a lot of hard work to get them there and put in a lot of effort to fund raise to get them there. It has been a waste of time.”

The Northern Echo:

Macy Gallone

Four people were taken to hospital with injuries not thought to be life-threatening.

So far, no arrests have been made.

Warwickshire Police are appealing for anyone who may have information to come forward.

Superintendent Pete Hill said: “This was a terrifying ordeal for members of the public who were at the arena at Sports Connexion this afternoon and witnessed this large-scale violent disorder.

“We will not tolerate incidents of this nature and are working hard to establish the circumstances surrounding this incident.”

The England Boxing National Youth Championships was scheduled to take place over three days, from Friday to Sunday, and sees some of the country’s best youth boxers compete for national title belts

England Boxing is now working with the police regarding the trouble and has also launched its own investigation.

A spokesman said: “We utterly condemn Saturday’s events and the background to them and will continue to work with the relevant authorities, including with representatives of the National Police Chiefs Council, to eradicate the impact it has on our competitions.

“Those with videos or information are asked to forward it to Warwickshire Police.

“We share with all boxers, coaches, officials and genuine spectators a huge sense of disappointment that the competition has not been allowed to run its course after the hard work put in by so many, not least the boxers themselves.

“England Boxing is now looking at options regarding the Championships, including the potential to reschedule, taking into account the wishes of the boxers, timings, our other championships and competitions and other associated factors.

“Boxers’ BCR1 Medical Books and any equipment left behind will be returned to clubs via the regional associations.

“We will update member clubs within the next week with regards to a potential rescheduling.”