AMATEUR boxing chiefs have called for an inquiry into an incident which saw national schoolboys championships abandoned.

Fourteen young boxers from clubs in the region travelled to Essex to take part in the Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) National schoolboys' finals, accompanied by supporters and trainers.

The event was scheduled to take place on Friday and Saturday nights at the Broadway Theatre, Barking, but the fights were brought to a premature halt because of fears for safety due to overcrowding at the venue.

The theatre was evacuated by officers from Essex Police, although a spokeswoman said no arrests and no injuries occurred.

Seven of the North-East boxers had already fought before the venue was closed on Friday night.

Spennymoor Boxing Academy has two champions - Nathan Ballan and Bradley Saunders, both 15 - who were left waiting to defend their titles as they were due to box on Saturday.

They are among fighters who will have to wait until the end of April for another chance to fight for their titles in Barnsley.

Before the event was ended, Stuart Leonard, from Darlington ABC, and David Watson, from Shildon ABC, won their titles. Ron Harvey, secretary of the Tyne, Tees and Wear ABA, said 620 tickets had been sold in advance, creating a full house, but more people were allowed in.

People with tickets were unable to get in, having travelled from all over the country, including Shildon, Spennymoor and Durham.

Shildon boxer David Watson was locked in his changing room and got out with only seconds left before he would have been disqualified for non-appearance.

Boxers and coaches were also given lunch passes - for a McDonalds a mile away, he added.

A spokesman for Barking and Dagenham Council, which runs the venue, said the decision to evacuate had been made for safety reasons