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Murders linked to Australian underground 'fight club'

A brazen killing outside a Sydney shopping mall has led investigators to a secret 'fight club' that is allegedly connected to two suspected murderers, and a former world champion boxer.

Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

On August 11th, 2014 Bradley Dillon was killed outside a busy shopping mall in Leichhardt, the 'Little Italy' of Sydney, Australia. The 25-year-old father-of-two was shot in the chest at close range. Witnesses described two men running from the scene.

In the investigation that followed, the New South Wales Homicide Squad uncovered what they believe to be a secret organization which is allegedly connected to Dillon's killers, as well as a string of amateur fighters and an Australian boxing icon.

Little is known about Saint Michael Christian Brothers Fight Club. According to the Sydney Morning Herald - who quote unnamed sources close to the organization - the club was born out of a shared interest in both Catholicism and combat sports (especially Muay Thai).

However, according to the SMH's source,  the organization shifted in ideology to become something resembling an outlaw motorcycle gang. Regular known activities of the Saint Michael Christian Brothers Fight Club included training in Muay Thai and hosting fight nights, which the club sold tickets for.

Weeks after Dillon's murder, police arrested Diego Carbone - who was 23 at the time - as he prepared to flee Australia for Thailand. Through investigating Carbone the homicide squad were alerted to the organization's existence, which the accused is allegedly a member of. As police dug into Carbone's alleged motive (which they settled on being an unpaid debt) they began to unravel startling information about the fight club, which they connected to another murder and a popular Australian celebrity.

Alleged club members Tony Carbone (brother to Diego) and Albert Rick Difloriano were questioned about the club's activities. They were then charged with giving misleading information. However, it was another alleged fight club member that investigators really wanted to talk to - Antonio "Tony Bang" Bagnato, a Muay Thai fighter.

Although, speaking to Bagnato (who is a cousin to the Carbone brothers) would be no easy task. Bagnato, who police allege was the second man seen running from the murder scene,  arrived in Thailand 48 hours after Dillon's death. In December 2015 Bagnato was arrested by Thai officials for his alleged role in a separate murder.

Thai police charged the 26-year-old Bagnato for the murder of Wayne Rodney Schneider, a notorious Hells Angel member, who was found in a shallow grave beside a Chinese temple in the tourist city of Pattaya. Both Australian and Thai police suspect Bagnato was involved in drug trafficking and that this was the cause of the conflict that resulted in Schneider being kidnapped, beaten by brass knuckles, and eventually executed.

Bagnato is due to be tried via a Thai military court (as is customary since Thailand's 2014 coup d'état). If found guilty he could be sentenced to death (though Thailand rarely carries out executions). Australia wants to arrest Bagnato themselves, though it is unlikely that Thailand will extradite him.

Also implicated in the activities of the Saint Michael Christian Brothers Fight Club is Jeff Fenech, a former IBF Bantamweight, WBC Super Bantamweight, and WBC Featherweight Champion. Fenech, 51, was also a contestant on Australia's version of The Celebrity Apprentice.

Fenech vehemently denies any knowledge of the club's activities, despite being photographed with alleged club members on Facebook, and being quoted by the group as supporting their organization.

On Facebook the club also boasted an association with Australian heavyweight boxer/MMA fighter Lucas Browne and multiple world championship boxer "Sugar" Shane Mosley.

In January 2016, the NSW Crime Commission questioned Fenech about Saint Michael Christian Brothers Fight Club. During the questioning Fenech allegedly threw documents at officials and, according to the SMH, created "an atmosphere considered intimidating." Fenech, who was allegedly a special guest of the fight club during their "Muay Thai Unleashed" event in 2012, was charged with stalking and intimidating a police officer and contempt of a commission. He is due in court this month.

Diego Carbone is expected to stand trial for the murder of Bradley Dillon sometime this year.

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