Cage fighting returns to Edinburgh months after Queen Street riot

Vincenzo Parente at his Forza MMA gym in Slateford.  Vincenzo is putting on another Forza Fighting Championship event at the Jam House on Sunday 26 February.  Picture: Greg Macvean
Vincenzo Parente at his Forza MMA gym in Slateford. Vincenzo is putting on another Forza Fighting Championship event at the Jam House on Sunday 26 February. Picture: Greg Macvean
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CAGE fighting is set to return to the New Town just three months after a similar event forced dozens of police officers to close off Queen Street as they fought to control rioting fans.

The Forza Fighting Championship, which is scheduled to last all day and is licensed, will take place at The Jam House on Sunday, February 26.

Last November an event by the same promoter ended in chaos as fans of rival fighters brawled inside the venue, throwing glass bottles at each other – before spilling onto Queen Street, with emergency services called.

Police and the city council have no problem with another mixed martial arts event taking place and The Jam House said it was willing to host it.

However, councillor Joanna Mowat said it was “astonishing” that the scale of trouble at the previous event, despite no arrests being made, had not led to a licensing board review.

She said: “I find it surprising that no report of the previous event was made to any of the council committees which are concerned with licensing.

“The incident in November was significant and given the amount of people present when the fight broke out and the way it spilled out into the street this could have been a significant public order event. It is astonishing that this had not lead to a review of the premises’ licence by either the licensing board or regulatory committee.”

The event promoter Vincenzo Parente, who runs the Forza Mixed Martial Arts Club in Slateford Road, said he had taken additional security measures to ensure there was no repeat of the trouble at the February event.

The 44-year-old martial arts teacher said: “The precautions I have taken for the next show are a doubling-up on security and we have organised for a smaller cage to be put into the venue this time, so we can put a barrier round the cage and security round the barriers looking out onto the supporters.

“We have capped the tickets to 30 per fighter so the venue doesn’t become overwhelmed with supporters and big crowds coming in.

“I heard the initial aggro started last time due to there being up to 90 tickets sold to the supporters of single fighters.”

He added: “It didn’t matter how many security we had, be it ten or 20, they were intent on making a nuisance of themselves and were very hard to control. I was devastated after the trouble the last time because I’m passionate about what I do.”

A Council spokeswoman said: “Licensing officers from Police Scotland are fully aware of the future events. Where any concern remains, the police will bring the matter to the attention of the council and the council will consider if any further steps are needed.”

Jodie Chiappa, general manager of The Jam House, said: “There will be more door staff at the venue than there was before.

“The police have been notified and they’re happy for it to go ahead.”

kevan.christie@jpress.co.uk