Nefarious characters are part-and-parcel of the sport of MMA. While the upper echelons of the sport generally keep a wide berth of such fighters, smaller regional shows often overlook horrendous acts just to sell some tickets.
M-1 Challenge 78 takes to Orenburg, Russia on May 22. With the main event between Maxim Divnich and Daniel Ismalugov for the Lightweight championship announced, the main event should be highly entertaining, if nothing else. Having looked at other fight announcements for the card through M-1’s vk profile, it came to my attention that a rather sinister booking had been made. One which is, by all accounts, morally abhorrent and unjustifiable. The booking of Frank Kortz, who’s an alleged neo-Nazi and Hell’s Angels gang member, is particularly shocking given the profile of M-1.
In the mid-to-late aughts, Kortz was imprisoned for offences ranging from causing bodily harm, human trafficking, and illicit weapon possession. According to antifainfoblatt.de, upon release, Kortz would return to criminality as he once again became involved in a brothel business, where he was rumoured to have retaken his role as a pimp. Kortz would also become involved in organised hooliganism around this time.
Parallel to Kortz’s criminal activities he took up a coaching job at a Muay Thai gym in Bremen, which is how he eventually found his way into MMA.
In 2015, Kortz fought for small German promotion, Hype Fighting Championship, where his ties to neo-Naziism were brought to the attention of the promoter. The promoter attempted to distance himself from the situation whilst also trying to justify the booking. Here’s an excerpt from taz.de:
Vahit Arslan, the organizer of the “Hype FC” competition, asserts that “it is a purely professional sporting event that does not represent any political views .”Frank Kortz had not been known to him before. “I’ve researched and found out that he’s been out of the right scene for over two years,” Arslan said. “We give him the opportunity to improve in a sporty way and not to be repulsive.” Arslan distanced himself from any religious or nationalist position. “It is,” he says, “only for the sport.”
While Arslan claimed to have researched Kortz and ‘found out that he’s been out of the right scene for over two years‘, he was, unfortunately, incorrect in his research. Kortz attempts at distancing himself have appeared to be nothing more than a charade. It’s clear that Kortz is still closely affiliated with the neo-Nazi contingent. ‘ProViolence’ is a neo-Nazi and right-wing Hooligan brand of clothing which Kortz was a part of until, as he alleges, 2015. Many of the brands designs include the numbers ’88’, which is in reference to that letters positioning in the alphabet, ‘HH’, which directly represents ‘Heil Hitler’. A post from Kortz’ Facebook on May 2017 shows him wearing the brand proudly.
Arslan’s event was under supervision by police in Bremen. Kortz was known to them, and the criminal Motorcycle Club he was a member of were in attendance. Bremen police stated that a number of the tattoos on Kortz were representative of right-wing extremism and neo-Naziism. In the end, he would compete in a t-shirt.
Another promoter who is aware of Kortz is Frank Burczynski, who promotes one of Germany’s largest regional shows, We Love MMA. Here’s an excerpt from the same 2015 taz.de article.
“People with hook-cross (swastika) tattoos do not come in the ring with me.” He researches before and can be sent photos in combat pose. And at the latest, on the scale you can see the naked upper body. “In my opinion,” Burczynski points out, “is the worst thing that can happen to sport if you give such people a platform.”
Towards the end of 2015, Kortz would become involved in a violent incident between rival motorcycle gangs, the Hell’s Angels, who Kortz was affiliated to, and the Mongols. Kortz would be handed a short probation after an investigation.
While Kortz pushes the narrative that he is now “no longer active” his recent tattoos tell another story. Kortz has a tattoo of a Swastika, one that reads ‘2YT4U’, which represents ‘too white for you’, and a relatively new tattoo of Thor’s hammer on his skull. Which is a known insignia associated with neo-Naziism and right-wing extremism by the Federal Office of Constitution and Protection and Police forces nationwide.
While there may not be a deep-rooted synonymity between MMA and neo-Nazi’s, there are, unfortunately, a few previous examples within the sport. Finnish fighter Toni Valtonen competed for M-1 on seven occasions and for KSW a further two times. Fellow Fin, Niko Puhakka competed for M-1 ten times, KSW three times, and as recently as 2014 he had competed on a single Fight Nights Global card.
The most well-publicised incident was when the UFC signed and then released Benjamin Brinsa after finding out about his alleged ties to neo-Naziism. Furthermore, Melvin Costa competed multiple times for King of the Cage with a Nazi insignia emblazoned on his chest.
While I don’t expect M-1 to pull Kortz from the card, I do expect him to be wearing something covering his highly offensive tattoos.
It’s a real shame fighters such as this are still given a platform. This sort of tolerance from MMA promotions is a black eye on the sport and wholly unacceptable. Hopefully, it doesn’t continue.
Ryan Thomas typically writes for our friends over at CagePages.com, be sure to give them a visit!