Rival motorcycle gangs brawled at a tattoo convention held at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel yesterday, with eight members of the groups injured.

About 40 police swarmed the hotel at 17th and Race Streets after fisticuffs broke out around 3 p.m. between the Pagans and the Outlaws, according to Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan.

Police made several arrests in connection with the fight, which spilled from the hotel lobby into the street, and charges were pending. No one was seriously hurt.

"What happened is what ordinarily happens when two gangs get together - violence broke out," Sullivan said.

One of the combatants had a firearm with a legal permit, and both the gun and permit were confiscated, Sullivan said.

Eyewitness Bob Thiede, 37, of Westville, said the fight was between a man with skinhead tattooed on his back and several others wearing Pagan T-shirts.

"They hit the skinhead with a broomstick," said Thiede, who was accompanied by girlfriend "Miss Angie," who declined to give her last name.

Thiede said the man "had broomstick marks all over him."

Troy Timpel, who ran the convention and owns Tattooed Kingpin in Society Hill, noted that the violence did not occur in the convention area on the hotel's second and third floors. About 175 exhibitors and 8,000 attendees came to the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention over its three-day run, which ended yesterday.

"They had nothing to do with us," Timpel said. "Motorcycle-club enthusiasts come every year, and we've never had any problems with anyone. This year, there was a minor incident."

Timpel said the convention began nine years ago and hosts tattoo artists from countries around the world, including Germany, Japan, England, Italy, and Finland.