Neo-Nazi Fighter - an interview with Anti-Fascist Action


Last week, Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) recieved news that Neo-Nazi, Niko Puhakka was to compete in a MMA bout in Dublin. After AFA got the word went out on social media (which was then spread by the WSM, Rabble, LookLeft and others), and email campaign ensued and fight promoters Celtic Gladiator pulled Puhakka from the line-up. The following interview was conducted with AFA's Morry Donnelly, just before that news broke.



WSM: AFA has learned that Niko Puhakka, a Finnish MMA fighter with strong links to Neo-Nazi groups in Europe is coming to Dublin. What can you tell us about these links? 

Morry Donnelly (AFA): Puhakka has been active in neo-Nazi circles in Finland for well over a decade. In 2003, he was named in Blood & Honour's magazine 'Scene News (Issue 28) as one of their most prized security members.  Blood and Honour are a violent neo-Nazi group founded in the U.K. in the late 1980s. It has strong links with Combat 18. With interest to Ireland, both groups are well-known for their deep connections with Loyalist paramilitaries.

In June 2011, Puhakka was photographed with Tomppa, bassist with Finnish neo-Nazi bonehead band The Wrongdoers. Tomppa was wearing a t-shirt of leading White Power band Kill Baby Kill. In April 2012, Puhakka was present at a neo-Nazi gig in Finland and was wounded slightly after a shooting. In June 2012, Puhakka was photographed wearing a Blood & Honour t-shirt and was seen on stage singing with Polish neo-Nazi band Obłęd. We can only imagine what other events  that he's attended where photos weren't taken.

WSM: The no platform policy is usually applied to fascist organisers coming to address meetings. What do you the significance is, of a high profile neo-nazi bonehead competing in something like MMA?

Morry Donnelly (AFA):  It's significant for two reasons. Firstly, MMA is growing in popularity in Ireland and other countries. Young kids (sometimes impressionable at that age) should not be exposed to potential role models like Puhakka. People who have neo-Nazi tattoos, do security for neo-Nazi gigs and sing on stage with neo-Nazi bands. In this regard, we do want to give the oxygen that Nazis like Puhakka crave in order to spread his views. By denying him the legitimacy to fight in a major tournaments like this, we are taking against racism as a whole.  Not wanting a neo-Nazi partake in a MMA tournament in your city is the same as not wanting a neo-Nazi band play here or a neo-Nazi politician speak here. It's all about reducing their oxygen and legitimacy Ignoring them does not work. Before long, they will be too strong and too well organised to confront successfully. 

Secondly, MMA's image as a tough, testosterone filled sport is always going to attract neo-Nazis. There have been problems in the MMA community in the USA and Europe with neo-Nazis trying to infiltrate gyms and trying to recruit from MMA clubs. By denying Puhakka this platform, it is another positive step in reducing the influence that neo-Nazis can have in the sport.

WSM: Has Puhakka been competing for long? Do we know of any other attempts elsewhere to prevent him from competing?

Morry Donnelly (AFA):  Puhakka has been competitively fighting since 2002. He was pulled from the BAMMA 8 fight in England in December 2011 and removed from the KSW 18 fight in Poland in February 2012 after controversy boiled over in regard to his neo-Nazi tattoos and supposed political beliefs. So there is precedent for this. It is worrying that Celtic Gladiator, were aware of all this, but still made the decision to invite him over and pay for him to fight.
WSM: What's the Neo-Nazi scene like in Finland? Do we know of any violent attacks on minorities or lefties?

Morry Donnelly (AFA):  The neo-Nazi scene in Finland is smaller than in neighboring countries like Russia and Sweden but still active. In the early 1990s in Joensuu, a group of boneheads launched a wave of attacks against Somalian refugees which cumulated in a firebomb attack. While thankfully attacks by neo-Nazis have been rare in the last few years, the extreme right have been doing well electorally. The True Finns party saw its Parliamentary share of the vote increase from 4.05% in 2005 to 19.05% in 2011.