(KMOV) – Parents were in shock to see kids as young as ten in the ring of a mixed martial arts competition last weekend at the St. Charles Family Arena.
The viewer, who has attended nearly 20 matches, believed kids should not be allowed to take part in the competition claiming they are risking permanent injury to their young bodies.
“All of our youth competitors wear the head guard,” said Kenny Nowling who runs Fight Hard MMA headquartered in Lake St. Louis,
He said the younger competitors do a variety of martial arts, however he said “these kids are not competing in full-on mixed martial arts, it's just not the case.”
John, a parent, believes the sport needs to be reined in for younger competitors. “I think there needs to be some restrictions put in place, to educate these parents of the risks they're putting their children in."
When asked if it is too violent for young kids, Nowling said absolutely not, saying the gear that is used is more than enough to adequately protect the fighters and said MMA is far less dangerous than other sports like youth football.
“When you've got two kids coming together full force and they're banging their heads together repeatedly, when you look at the 12 ounce gloves and headgear the risk is minimal,” said Nowling.
John said he wasn’t the only one in the stands who felt what they were watching was wrong. “It was shock and awe amongst the whole crowd.”
Nowling said "nothing's further from the truth, the fans come unglued, get excited."
The matches are often large-scale production numbers. "Just because it's being done inside a cage it gives it this old school Roman gladiator vibe...but at the end of the day from a safety perspective there's no place I'd rather have my 10-year-old than on the matt training for MMA,” Nowling added.