David Virgo, 19, was punched to the ground and then kicked unconscious after leaving a pub disco in the West Midlands with two friends on Saturday night. He recovered consciousness yesterday.
Witnesses told police the trainee landscape gardener's head was "kicked like a football". His mother June was at his bedside last night at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, where his condition was described as serious but stable.
The attack is believed to be the most serious racial incident in Britain since the publication last month of Sir William Macpherson's report into the death of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence.
Detective Inspector John Larkin, of West Midlands Police, said: "We know David was viciously assaulted. He was punched to the floor and repeatedly kicked. One witness said his head was kicked like a football.
"It was a racially motivated attack, mercilessly and brutally inflicted. This was an horrific and brutal assault on a lad who had gone out to enjoy himself for an evening with friends."
Mr Virgo's father, Eluid, said last night: "When I was told what had happened to my son I could not believe it . Nobody deserves to be treated like that. The people who did this are wicked men."
The victim's sister, Marie, aged 29, said: "I was really shocked when I saw him. His face was badly beaten and the major injuries are to his head. He is a fun-loving quiet lad who likes to go out with his mates. He never goes out looking for trouble."
Chris Myant, of the Commission for Racial Equality, said the attack was a signal that society as a whole, not just the police, had to make more strenuous efforts to tackle racism.
He said: "This shows that unfortunately there are young people in Britain who don't appear to have shared the general public response to the death of Stephen Lawrence."
Police believe there were three members of the white gang and are appealing for witnesses to the attack, which happened at about 11.30pm outside a fish and chip shop in Blackheath High Street. Earlier in the evening Mr Virgo and his friends had visited a disco at the nearby George and Dragon pub.Reuse content