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Inside The Outrageous World of CHILD CAGE FIGHTING

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Children’s MMA or Pankration is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States with an estimated 3 million kids involved

 

It is the heat of battle between two MMA fighters hemmed inside an industrial metal cage. One kicks, punches and strangles his way to brutal victory. His opponent breaks down and cries tears for his mother.

 

But this is not an unusual end to another televised brawl between two fully grown brutes, this is kids’s MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts, which is rapidly becoming one of the nation’s fastest growing sports among children.

 

It is estimated that three million boys and girls, some as young as five-years-old launch themselves at each other weekly across the nation engaged in Pankration – some wearing no head protection and throwing punches boasting gloves little more than one-inch thick.

Effort: Kristofer "The Arm Collector" Arrey, 7, chokes Mason Bramlette, 7, during 2013 California State Pankration Championships Youth Division. Pankration is a version of the popular Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)-style fighting that is adapted for children

Effort: Kristofer “The Arm Collector” Arrey, 7, chokes Mason Bramlette, 7, during 2013 California State Pankration Championships Youth Division. Pankration is a version of the popular Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)-style fighting that is adapted for children

 

 

Critics call it barbaric and fear for the children’s safety and the effect on their behavior.

 

Supporters compare it’s benefits to boxing and traditional martial arts and claim that it encourages self-discipline, fair play and exercise.

 

A New-York based photographer, Sebastian Montalvo, traveled across the country and compiled a photographic essay in which he attempts to shine a light onto the ferocious sport, giving names and faces to the little children whose parents are encouraging their fighting spirit.

 

One such child, is Kristopher Arrey. He is seven years old and his success in the MMA ring is so fearsome that he has earned the nickname ‘The Arm Collector’.

Tears: Mason "The Beast" Bramlette, 7, cries after receiving a punch during 2013 California State Pankration Championships Youth Division

Tears: Mason “The Beast” Bramlette, 7, cries after receiving a punch during 2013 California State Pankration Championships Youth Division

 

Parker, Arizona, United States: Kristofer "The Arm Collector" Arrey, 7, and Cross Betzhold, 6, prepare for their bout at a United States Fight League Pankration All-Star tournament held at the BlueWater Resort and Casino

Parker, Arizona, United States: Kristofer “The Arm Collector” Arrey, 7, and Cross Betzhold, 6, prepare for their bout at a United States Fight League Pankration All-Star tournament held at the BlueWater Resort and Casino

 

 

Parker, Arizona, United States: Kristofer "The Arm Collector" Arrey, 7, pins Cross Betzhold, 6, against the cage during a United States Fight League Pankration All-Star tournament held at the BlueWater Resort and Casino

Parker, Arizona, United States: Kristofer “The Arm Collector” Arrey, 7, pins Cross Betzhold, 6, against the cage during a United States Fight League Pankration All-Star tournament held at the BlueWater Resort and Casino

 

In one striking and arguably disturbing image from Montalvo, Arrey is on his back, inflicting a painful choke-hold on another boy.

 

Once this fight ends in victory for Arrey, his defeated opponent, Mason Bramlette, who is also seven, is seen crying – an illuminating image which reminds the viewer exactly how old the fighter’s are.

 

Montalvo told CNN that parental encouragement is key to the growth of MMA.

 

‘Are you OK?’ Montalvo heard the referee asking Mason as tears streamed down his face. ‘Do you want to stop fighting?’.

 

His father urged his son to stay in the ring.

 

Indeed, Montalvo said that the key aspect of kid’s MMA was how competitive the parents are.

 

‘They’re mega-competitive,’ Montalvo said. They ‘love their kids 100%’ and ‘they just want them to win.’


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