Updated: FORMER boxing champion Henry Wharton is in hospital with serious injuries after being hit by a car following a suspected fight between travellers.
The 44-year-old world title challenger was taken to York Hospital with head and back injuries following an incident in Murton Lane on Saturday.
Police confirmed a 35-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the incident and has been released on bail.
It is understood Mr Wharton may have been injured after he intervened in a pre-arranged fight which took place at about 4.30pm on Saturday in Murton Lane.
Local sources said as many as 15 people may have been involved. A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said the 44-year-old man – named locally as Mr Wharton – was hit by a car.
A resident of Murton Lane, who did not wish to be named, said: “I was told that one of the people involved was a male youth and hid in an outbuilding, and asked one of the neighbours to get him a taxi and get him out of there. When the neighbour refused to do so unless he told them his name, the youth ran off across some fields.”
The resident said: “They said he had a wound which looked like a knife wound on his arm, quite a big gash that was bleeding. While he was hiding there were a couple of cars going up and down the road with people hanging out looking for someone. It sounds like quite a serious thing.”
Several residents said a man had been hit by a car in the incident, and a vehicle was left deserted in a ditch in Murton Lane.
The road was closed until about 4.45pm yesterday, and locals said police carried out forensic tests on the vehicle before removing it.
Yesterday, more than a dozen officers, including firearm units and police dogs, attended the travellers’ site in James Street, York, to execute a warrant in connection with Saturday’s incident.
Numerous onlookers stopped to watch from the car park of nearby Morrisons supermarket, along with residents from the site who said they were prevented from entering during the police activity. One woman said a police helicopter had been hovering overhead for about an hour.
Sergeant Martin Wedgwood, of North Yorkshire Police, who led officers into the site at about 5pm, said a police support unit wearing body armour were also on hand but said officers had experienced “no hostility whatsoever” while executing the warrant.
As reported on thepress.co.uk yesterday, there was a heavy police presence, including police dogs, in the Hull Road and Lawrence Street area of the city on Saturday.
The Press understands that officers were responding to intelligence about a pre-arranged fight at some time that day between members of the travelling community.
One resident from the James Street site, which is home to about 20 travellers’ caravans, told The Press he had been told he could not go back to his caravan until Sunday’s police action had ended.
He said: “My wife and kids are in there and being kept inside. I haven’t been able to get on site. I think it will be a lingering job for an hour or so before they let everyone on site.”
He said he did not know what the action was about, and expressed “shock” at the number of officers at the scene.
“They could have dealt with this in a reasonable manner but this isn’t reasonable. My kids are in there and they will be petrified.”
King of the ring
Henry Wharton is the former undefeated British, Commonwealth and European super-middleweight champion, whose only three losses were all in fights for the world title.
In the 1990s, he fought for the world title against Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Robin Reid.
Since retiring from the ring in 1998, he has coached dozens of young people throughout York and North Yorkshire and also ran a fish and chip shop in Blossom Street.
He is currently redeveloping the former Regent cinema in Acomb into a new 10,000 square-foot gymnasium, for boxing training, and for community use, with fitness and Zumba dance classes, and a state-of-the-art gym.