Dublin Mixed Martial Arts promoter Celtic Gladiator have been forced to remove Finnish fighter Niko Puhakka from their February 9th show at the Citywest Hotel after an online campaign revealed links to neo-Nazi groups.
Anti Fascist Action Ireland lead the campaign to have Puhakka taken off the bill after a series of photos were found showing him with known neo-Nazis and of the fighter with tattoos of fascist symbols.
Puhakka released a hand-written note through the promoter last Friday saying he did not hold fascist beliefs and that 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 didn’t die down though as Rabble reported that he was pictured with neo-Nazis as recently as November despite his statement distancing himself from the movement and has had previous bouts in England and Poland pulled due to his links with Nazis.
Today 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, color, religion or beliefs.”