On April 6, 2019, Greece’s far-right MMA promotion, Propatria, hosted its fifth event at the featuring a slew of controversial characters and fighters affiliated to the neo-nazi fight scene. Among those who participated was Tomasz Szkatulski, a French far right activist based in Lyon who is best known as the founder of Pride France, a French lifestyle brand and MMA fight club that is deeply embedded in the ever-expanding neo-nazi fight network.
While Szkatulski lost to Panagiotis Stoumpoulis in the main event, his presence was a boost to his brand and promoted the Pride France vision amongst like-minded attendants at the show. And though Pride France has sent fighters to neo-nazi shows around the world over the past six years, they have also helped organize and sponsor some of the biggest far right martial arts events in Europe.
This article will attempt to delve into Pride France’s violent history, its mission statement, and how it has secured its place in the international neo-nazi fight network alongside other brands like White Rex and Kampf der Nibelungen(KdN).
A neo-Nazi lifestyle brand
Founded in 2013, Pride France is part extreme right lifestyle brand, part neo nazi fight club. According to its mission statement from 2014, Pride France “is a brand for nationalists that focuses on an underground range, sport wear, and pagan. Whether to go out, to train in the gym, or practice your boxing training ‘Pride France’ will be there to help you.”
The brand maintains an online store that sells streetwear, as well as fight gear such as rash guards, gloves, and shorts, all of which are emblazoned with Nazi symbolism. Some of Pride France’s most popular clothing items include its HTLR women’s t-shirt, and others that include slogans like “White Division” and “Defend Your Tradition.” The brand even has a “Halloween” shirt depicting a smiling KKK caricature with a noose and a flaming torch, as well as a selection of children’s clothing with similar white supremacist slogans.
Unlike brands like Operation Werewolf and KdN that are more subtle about their use of Nazi symbols, Pride France is far less sophisticated. Their clothing openly promotes Hitler, and features some of the most well known and dangerous Nazi symbols like the Black Sun and the swastika. The Pride France logo on their Facebook page is a prime example of their blatant Nazism, as it features several interconnected swastikas and a slogan that reads “Respect Nature.”
They also specially produce clothing that is topical and relevant to their cause. For example, during the 2016 European Championships in France, the brand printed t-shirts with racist slogans like ‘Turkey not Welcome’ for fans to wear to the stadium.
Much like its fellow neo-Nazi lifestyle brands like White Rex, Pride France uses Caucasian women with blonde hair to model their clothing items as part of their attempt to propagate racial bias and to highlight the supposed Aryan qualities of Europeans. The women selected to model are usually young, attractive, and athletic, which serves the purpose of making the brand’s mission statement and its clothing more appealing.
Even Pride France’s logo is a component of its overall propaganda. The logo depicts a white-coloured fighter hitting a red-coloured fighter with a jab. This can be interpreted as the white nationalist attacking the communist, which would also fit Pride France’s view of itself as both anti-communist and pro-nationalist.
While the content promoted in Pride France’s online clothing brand is alarming, it is only a small portion of the brand’s overall influence in the neo-Nazi fight scene.
The International Neo-Nazi Fight Network
The man at the helm of Pride France is Tomasz Szkatulski, a far right extremist linked to various neo-Nazi groups including the international Blood and Honor network. Szkatulski has reportedly been arrested on numerous occasions, including a conviction for attacking a homeless man because he was of African descent. He was also reportedly involved in neo-Nazi militant attacks on the customers of a gay bar in Lille and has used his Pride France platform for homophobic attacks in the past as well.
Szkatulski’s body is riddled with anti-Semitic and Nazi tattoos, including a White Power tattoo across his neck, the face of leading Nazi Rudolf Hess and several swastikas peppered across his body. Over the past six years, Szkatulski has used Pride France as a platform to promote his own extremist views and to integrate himself into the expanding network of neo-Nazi groups, mainly through hosting and sponsoring MMA events across Europe.
Between 2014-16, Szkatulski organized annual far right MMA events titled ‘Day of Glory’ in Lyon, France, which was viewed as a stronghold for far-right activists, nationalists and identity groups. The events, which were held at secret locations, garnered hundreds of live attendants from across Europe, who flew in to watch the MMA fights and concerts.
The Day of Glory shows were co-organized by Blood and Honor, a neo-Nazi music promotion network and skinhead group founded in the UK by singer Ian Stuart, and White Rex, the notorious Russian neo-Nazi fight club founded by Denis Nikitin. The poster for the first show in 2014 was filled with Nazi symbols, including a fighter tattooed with the German Iron Cross, the SS emblem, and the 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf. In 2015, Pride France and White Rex continued their partnership and sponsored that year’s Kampf der Nibelungen event in Germany -- a prime example of how these separate fight clubs support each other with the overarching goal of expanding the international network of neo-Nazi fight clubs.
This partnership continued into 2017, when Pride France decided to rename its annual show to Force & Honneur . The event once again served as a platform for various neo-Nazi groups to exchange ideas and network while watching violent combat sports and skinhead concerts.
While Pride France has not hosted their annual shows in two years, they have doubled down on their sponsorship of fighters from the Czech Republic and Hungary, while also developing an online store called 2YT4U ( which stands for “too white for you”). The store sells clothing riddled with Nazi propaganda and symbolism from brands like Pride France, White Rex, KdN, Svastone, and Black Legion.
BY promoting the online clothing store, Pride France is able to promote nationalist and extremist ideals through symbols and iconography that celebrates whiteness while demonizing immigration, Islam, and dark skin. This nationalist messaging is also a way to both radicalize and mobilize the far right through a sense of belonging with other individuals disenfranchised from mainstream culture and society. The online store is also another way to connect the various neo-Nazi fight clubs and keep them integrated and unified.
In conclusion, Pride France has risen to become one of the most prominent and pivotal components of the international neo-Nazi fight network. Its role as both an online clothing brand and an extremist fight club and MMA promotion gave the brand ample opportunities to espouse their ideology and hatred, while also mobilizing new recruits and amassing its growing network.