Tuesday, January 08, 2013
A mixed martial arts promoter has been forced to remove a Finnish fighter from a show at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin next month after an online campaign revealed links to neo-Nazi groups.
Anti-Fascist Action Ireland led the campaign to have Niko Puhakka taken off the bill after photos were found showing the fighter with tattoos of fascist symbols and meeting with known neo-Nazis.
Niko Puhakka released a hand-written note through Celtic Gladiator last Friday saying he does not hold fascist beliefs and he has since covered up the tattoos.
"It is a pity that my past is still chasing me and I need to pay for mistakes from long ago," the fighter wrote.
The promoter said of Puhakka’s links: "Celtic Gladiator decided to cooperate with Niko Puhakka with sporting reasons, with a respected fighter. He is ashamed of views that he once preached."
The controversy refused to go away, however, as he was pictured with neo-Nazis as recently as November. He has had previous bouts in England and Poland pulled due to his links with neo-Nazis.
Yesterday the Celtic Gladiator board confirmed they were removing Puhakka from the bill due to the controversy saying, "Celtic Gladiator have signed a contract with Niko Puhakka basing only on his performance and achievements in sports.
"We as an organisation do not judge our fighter by race, colour, religion or beliefs."
During a fight in Poland, Puhakka displayed a neo-Nazi Blood & Honour tattoo on his chest.