A boxing title match provoked outrage in Italy after one of the challengers appeared on the live broadcast sporting various neo-Nazi tattoos.
The boxer in question, Michele Broili, lost the super-featherweight title fight to Moroccan native Hassan Nourdine but helped reignite a national discussion about fascist propaganda in Italy. It also raised concerns from sports authorities about how the Italian Boxing Federation allowed a fighter with tattoos espousing fascist and Nazi ideologies, including a flag with the SS Lightning Bolts, the Totenkopf (aka Death’s Head), and the numeric symbol 88—white supremacist code for Heil Hitler—to be sanctioned for the event.
“When I got into the ring and saw those tattoos, I was shocked,” Nourdine told the Italian national newspaper La Stampa. “I found those tattoos obscene. There is no justification. The Italian Boxing Federation should have realized from the beginning that this boxer had those sympathies. Inciting hatred is punishable by law.”
The event, which took place in the port city of Trieste, was also broadcast on Gazzetta dello Sport website, the largest sports newspaper in Italy, according to The Guardian. The live stream angered thousands of viewers, who watched Broili perform a fascist salute ahead of the bout.
According to reports, the extremist boxer is currently facing disbarment from the Italian boxing federation, as well as a potential criminal investigation, which could carry a sentence of up to two years in prison. The Italian Boxing Federation also released a statement insisting that all its members “Must refrain from any discriminatory behavior” though the federation failed to address how Broili lasted as long as he did.
As for Nourdine, the boxer expressed concern over the federation’s failing but could not hide his satisfaction at earning a victory against a Nazi. “For me, all this is not normal. But I cannot deny that beating someone with those tattoos is a victory worth double,” he said.