London Evening Standard Newspaper
FISTS, FEET, KNIVES AND LOTS AND LOTS OF BLOOD
Fight star stabbed in brawl
By Graham Brough
A CAGE Rage fighter was battling for his life last night after a celebrity-studded party for a Page 3 girl ended in a blood-drenched knife brawl.
Bareknuckle bruiser “Lightning” Lee Murray, 27, a top star of no-holds-barred martial arts contests, is critically ill with stab wounds. Two other men who were knifed are seriously injured.
A horrified witness who saw the battle involving up to 12 men outside the Funky Buddha nightclub in upmarket Mayfair said: “It was like a bloody warzone, with fists, feet and knives on two streets.
“One of the guys must have brain damage if he survives. I saw three men hitting him so hard I thought his head would come off his neck.”
Murray’s friend and promoter Andy Geer said last night: “I’m devastated. Lee’s in a very bad way. He just went to a party with friends and this results. He’s got a colourful history but since he’s been contracted to Cage Rage he’s been well-behaved.”
Mayhem broke out at 3.15am yesterday after model Lauren Pope celebrated her 21st birthday party at the trendy club in Berkeley Street.
Among celebrity guests were Calum Best, 24, Big Brother’s Jade Goody, 24, and former England soccer stars Jermaine Jenas, Zat Knight and Lee Hendrie. None was involved in the incident.
CCTV seen by the Mirror shows three men watching the club from the street. When former street fighter Murray emerges, they pounce.
Up to a dozen men are then drawn into a pitched battle between two groups. One man was thrown against a kerbstone then collapsed into barriers and a parked Land Rover. He staggered 60 yards further to Green Park Tube station, lurched across the road then collapsed again, bleeding heavily.
An ambulance picked him up. A police officer at the scene said: “I’m not sure if he’ll pull through.” A trail of blood stained nearby Stratton Street. A scooter was wrecked and yet more blood was smeared down a Renault Modus.
One lorry driver who saw the battle said: “I drove round the corner to see cars coming straight at me down a one-way street. I don’t know if they were getaway cars or if they were people trying to flee the fighting. They were driving like crazy things.
“I pulled over, locked the cab and sat there trapped. I saw gangs of blokes knocking pieces out of each other and stabbing each other. There was blood all over the place. It was terrifying.”
Glamour girl Lauren said: “I couldn’t believe it. We’d been having a great night celebrating my birthday. Then some guys started a fight outside afterwards… there was some rough fighting.”
Staff at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel escorted frightened guests out of the back of the hotel as front doors were sealed by police.
House manager Martin Newbold said: “It seems some men were lying in wait and the violence began as others left the club.”
Murray is in St Mary’s Hospital, West London. The other two injured men, believed to be in their 30s, are also in hospital.
Police said: “The men had all been inside the club. One is in a very critical condition.”
Yesterday scores of offices and businesses were closed as police cordoned off the area so forensic experts could examine evidence. A manager at the club could give no details. Feared middleweight Murray is one of Cage Rage’s biggest stars. He grew up in a tough London neighbourhood where he is said to have had more than 300 street fights in his youth.
At 21, he trained at a Thai boxing club. He is now a star fighter in Mixed Martial Arts.
Cage Rage’s Dave O’Donnell said: “This is gutting. Lee was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He has fought all the best guys in the world and could go right to the top.”
The Funky Buddha is a favourite with celebrities and soccer stars. Prince Harry and Mick Jagger have been guests. Last year Dwight Yorke chased and caught a mugger after being robbed of his ?36,000 watch at the club.