Martial arts

‘Waterboarded’ and bullied Syrian refugee Jamal offered fight training by Conor McGregor’s MMA coach John Kavanagh after disturbing video goes viral

  • John Kavanagh says Jamal has lifetime membership to his SGB gym in Ireland
  • Video shows a bully pulling the boy to the ground and ‘waterboarding’ him
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 November, 2018, 2:24am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 November, 2018, 12:22pm

The coach of MMA star Conor McGregor wants to reach out to the Syrian boy who was bullied by schoolmates in the British city of Huddersfield, saying a few boxing lessons from the city’s famous Butlin brothers would boost his confidence and that the teen has a lifetime membership at his own SBG gym in Ireland.

John Kavanagh, replying to a user who tweeted footage of the now-famous schoolyard waterboarding incident, wrote on Twitter: “Kid seems to be in Huddersfield. I’m sure a few boxing lessons with the famous #ButlinBrothers @BigAndyButlin would be great to boost for his confidence. He’s free membership for life at @SBG_Ireland anyway if he can ever make it.”

The Butlin brothers – Ian, Dave and Andy – are cage fighters from Yorkshire who were big names in the area before the sport became high profile.

A disturbing video shows a 15-year-old Syrian refugee, identified only as Jamal, being tackled to the ground and “waterboarded” by a bully at a school in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. The incident at Almondbury Community School occurred in October and was put online on November 27, going viral with more than 2 million views.

Bullying is not kids being kids, and Hong Kong laws should reflect this

A 16-year-old boy is facing assault charges, according to Yorkshire police. The bully’s Facebook posts indicate he is a supporter of far-right British groups and, according to reports, his mother and older brother have also been in trouble in the past over racially motivated incidents.

The video also shows Jamal wearing a cast after what was reported to be an earlier assault by four boys in his school.

Media reports also say that Jamal’s sister had also been bullied in school and her subsequent depression almost led to her suicide in the school toilet.

The family fled war-torn Syria to Lebanon and were given safe passage to Britain two years ago.

Kavanagh’s offer was a hit with social media users, with Mark Spencer, founder of nearby Bradford’s oldest MMA gym Fulinkazan, offering to give Jamal lessons at his own club or at Huddersfield’s The Fight Lab dojo.

With at least a third of 15-year-olds falling victim, is it time for anti-bullying laws in Hong Kong?

Spencer tweeted: “Just seen the video, I would love to help. Lets get him over to @teamfulinkazan, I will sort his training out. If #Huddersfield is easier for the lad I will arrange training with my student @TheFightLab either way I will sort out equipment …”

Kavanagh endorsed Spencer as the best man to give the young boy training.

“Not many better than Mark, let’s get him out there. I’ll make sure he has all the gear he needs for training,” Kavanagh tweeted.

The video shows a schoolboy going up to Jamal and using racial slurs with him. He grabs Jamal by the throat and pulls him to the ground and says to him: “I’ll drown you.”

The bully then pours water on Jamal’s face in a mock waterboarding – a method of torture previously deemed acceptable by the United States that causes the subject to experience the sensation of drowning.

A British crowdfunding page has already raised tens of thousands of pounds (£1 = HK$10) for Jamal and his family.