Boxer Michele Broili has received a provisional ban from the Italian Boxing Federation after he displayed several prominent fascist and neo-Nazi tattoos during a recent fight as police announce investigation into the matter.
Broili, 28, was defeated by his Moroccan counterpart in Trieste last weekend for an iteration of the super-middleweight title, but a debate has formed in his native Italy as to whether someone apparently endorsing facist and Nazi ideologies should be allowed to compete at the sport’s highest level.
The Italian boxer was beaten by unanimous decision by his opponent but viewers watching the broadcast on a livestream were said to be alarmed by various tattoos that Broili displayed.
Broili was seen sporting an ‘SS’ tattoo on his chest, as well as an ’88’ symbol – a veiled code for the term “Heil Hitler“. He also had tattoos representing the ‘totenkopf’ – the group responsible for operating concentration camps during World War II – as well as others noting his support for skinhead organizations.
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Furthermore, he was also said to be seen performing a fascist salute to his supporters before the bout – with sporting authorities in Italy understood to be investigating how he was licensed by the Italian Boxing Federation.
“When I got into the ring and saw those tattoos, I was shocked,” said Nourdine after he defeated Broili.
“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 Italian Boxing Federation responded to the swelling debate by reaffirming that all of its members must restrain from behavior deemed as discriminatory, and that they were referring the matter to an Italian sports body for further investigation – but failed to state why action wasn’t taken soon against the fighter who has competed in 17 professional fights.
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However, Broili has been provisionally suspended by the organization until at least November 17 pending further review by the Italian Boxing Federation.
Police have also been confirmed as looking into the situation while prosecutors in Trieste determine if criminal charges should proceed.
“The court considers that the public showing of tattoos with unequivocal Nazi symbols and evocations during an official sports competition represents serious and unjustified behavior for a licensee,” said the Italian Boxing Federation court after applying Broili’s ban.
They also said that his tattoos stand in opposition to “the general principles of equality, of non-violence and non-discrimination at the base of the sports system.”
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In Italy, the promotion of fascism is a criminal offence – as is performing a fascist salute, something which is punishable by two years in prison. Broili has yet to comment publicly on the furore but his coach, Denis Conte, said that his fighter is a model professional.
“Michele only talks about sport and only wants to do sport. Michele is the prototype of the athlete who wakes up at four in the morning to train,” he said.
But as far as Nourdine is concerned, the initial justice has already been doled out.
“For me, all this is not normal. But I cannot deny that beating someone with those tattoos is a victory worth double,” he said.