BEREA, Ohio (WJW) – As the popularity of mixed martial arts and MMA organizations like the UFC have grown over the years, so has an underground culture built around so called “backyard fighting.”
Berea police say officers recently stumbled upon a fight club in their own backyard.
It started with a noise complaint from residents about a group of young men fighting and screaming in a strip of grass and bushes under power lines in the FirstEnergy right-of-way that cuts through their quiet neighborhood.
When officers arrived and approached a makeshift ring, the fighters in the ring, the organizers of the fight club and spectators, some of whom had climbed the FirstEnergy towers, scattered into the surrounding neighborhood.
However, one spectator remained at the scene and spoke with officers about the fight club.
On police body camera video, the man told police, “they were fighting, but I don’t know none of them. They were doing some kind of backyard stupid (expletive).”
A short time later, officers caught up with one of the organizers of the fight club, and he admitted that his goal was to create a local version of a fight series called “Street Beefs.”
Homeowners were not amused when they learned the fight club had been set up in the unusual location in the middle of their neighborhood.
On the body camera video, a resident told an officer, “I just had about 10 or 12 kids run through my backyard and scare my wife.”
The homeowner then asked the spectator, “who are you and where do you live?”
The officer told the homeowner, “that’s not for you to say sir,” and the homeowner responded, “it’s my (expletive) yard,” before adding, “appreciate paying my taxes for this (expletive).”
A total of six men, that include the organizers of the fight club, the fighters and some of the spectators, are now facing charges of trespassing and obstructing official business.
After taking down the ring, officers warned all involved that their fight club was not welcome in Berea.
“It’s a problem to have any kind of outdoor fighting, where somebody could get injured like that, even on private property. We don’t condone that in the city of Berea. Certainly somebody could get seriously injured in any kind of makeshift ring or fight club such as that,” said Lt. Tom Walker.
Police say if they could prove that anyone was hurt in the fight, those directly involved could have faced more serious charges.