The organisers of a martial arts show in Prague have bowed to pressure from the media and sponsors and cancelled an appearance by a Hungarian fighter who’s covered from head to toe in Nazi tattoos. Attila Petrovszki, a Mixed Martial Arts fighter from Hungary, had been due to appear at the event - his tattoos covered in a T-shirt - on Friday; now organisers are looking for a replacement.
Friday’s Heroes Gate martial arts tournament offers an evening of pumped up aggression for those looking to blow off a little steam. A combination of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), kickboxing and boxing, Heroes Gate is the tenth such event, heavily advertised and held under the auspices of the Prague 9 district council.
This year however organisers found themselves with a little too much publicity; the Roma news agency Romea.cz reported that one of the MMA fighters on the bill, Attila Petrovszki, was a Hungarian neo-Nazi. Photos of the semi-naked fighter seemed to confirm this; his chest features large tattoos of Hitler and a swastika, and the words ‘Death of the Jews’ is scrawled across his abdomen. The photo quickly made the transition from Romea to Facebook and then the mainstream media, and Attila’s fate was sealed.
The event’s promoter, Ladislav Kutil, told Radio Prague the fighter’s appearance had been cancelled due to ‘media pressure’ on Heroes Gate and its sponsors, which include gyms, car dealerships and even Pepsi. The poster also carries the logos of the City of Prague and Czech Television; both categorically denied supporting the event, and some sponsors who did threatened to withdraw their support. Former journalist Josef Bouška is an expert on the Czech neo-Nazi scene.
“Let me tell you one thing. The main problem isn’t whether the guy has a tattoo or not. The main problem is that they knowingly invited a Nazi guy to compete. They would have provided him with money, that basically equals support of neo-Nazism. On the other hand, there are a number of Nazis in Mixed Martial Arts circles, at least here in the Czech Republic. They’re promoted on the websites of the gyms, they do training. So I think there’s a deeper connection between these two worlds, and it’s not going away too soon I think.”
We should stress that you can be a fan or even a fighter of Mixed Martial Arts or kickboxing and not have any Nazi sympathies at all. I think the organisers said previous Czech tournaments had featured Romany and Vietnamese fighters. So I guess it’s not the exclusive preserve of the neo-Nazi underground is it?
“No, no, no, it’s absolutely not. I believe the vast majority of fighters and gyms are OK and they have no inclination towards neo-Nazism. The problem is that they know there are a number of Nazis among them, some of them very prominent, and they don’t consider it to be a problem. They just don’t care, and I believe that sets a very bad example.”
Heroes Gate has since released a statement claiming that Attila Petrovszki’s Hungarian agent had assured them the fighter was no longer an active neo-Nazi, that the tattoos were the result of a troubled youth and he was now – through kickboxing – taking his life in a new direction, which, said the promoters, was what martial arts was all about.
A cursory glance at Mr Petrovszki’s Facebook page, however, would suggest otherwise. There he’s pictured in a T-shirt of the British skinhead band Skrewdriver, whose leader Ian Stuart co-founded the violent neo-Nazi movement Blood and Honour.
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