Oxford MailFestival organiser vows no plan for boxing (From Oxford Mail)

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South Park festival organiser vows no plan for boxing

Oxford Mail: City councillor Graham Jones expressed concern about plans to include boxing and wrestling at a festival in South Park City councillor Graham Jones expressed concern about plans to include boxing and wrestling at a festival in South Park

FESTIVAL organisers have moved to reassure residents about boxing and wrestling due to be included at a three-day event planned for South Park.

Liberal Democrat councillor for St Clements, Graham Jones, raised concerns about the Sunday programme of events, which includes the two sports.

Organisers hope the “Oxford Oxford” festival that takes place on September 26 to 28 will attract more than 20,000 people.

The event, run by London-based Eleven 11 Events, will include a day of film, another day of music and a third day of free community activities.

Dr Jones said he wanted reassurances about safety and emergency issues and the suitability of the two sports in a family event.

He welcomed the festival but hoped organisers communicate with residents in the area.

He said: “I recognise many people enjoy seeing boxers and wrestlers displaying their skills, but these are regulated sports because of the risks competitors run.

“I want to be sure bouts are under full association rules, first aid and medical treatment is properly provided, and ambulances can easily access the site if needed.

“I’d actually much prefer there to be no boxing or wrestling at all during the festival. This is billed as a family event and there are many like me who wouldn’t want their children exposed to the sight of people damaging one another, with crowds egging them on.”

Eleven 11 Events co-director Anthony Norris said: “We have applied for an expansive licence so we are able to showcase the widest variety of the city on our community day, including sports.

“The part of the licence referring to wrestling and boxing is there so we are able to invite local sports societies of that nature, including martial arts, to the event to demonstrate their skills and offer professionally supervised opportunities for the audience to have a go themselves.

“We have never had any intention of promoting full-scale fights nor to expose children to unsuitable sports. Any such assumption is reading quite a lot into what is, at this stage, not a full programme of events but a licence application.”

Dr Jones said he has already written to London-based Eleven 11 Events pointing out the opportunity in Freshers’ Week to set the tone for student behaviour in the rest of the term.

He added: “I pointed out every year there’s a spike of disorder around Freshers’ Weeks, and the public agencies are hard-pressed to keep bad behaviour contained in the following weeks.

“However, dialogue helps enormously, especially when the student bodies are themselves engaged in the discussions.”

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