Martial arts group denies Nazi clothing

One of the offending T-shirts

One of the offending T-shirts

A leading mixed-martial arts group has distanced itself from a clothing company which features Nazi-style images on its products.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship held a tournament in Manchester on Saturday night at which a number of fighters wore Hoelzer Reich items.

The sport is growing quickly on both sides of the Atlantic as an alternative attraction for boxing and wrestling fans. British fighters Michael Bisping and Dan Hardy were among those on the bill at the MEN Arena.

Hoelzer Reich’s clothes feature Iron Crosses and swastika and SS-style emblems.

Fans writing on internet forums before the event questioned whether the company was a suitable sponsor for fighters.

One wrote: “Didn’t have an issue until I saw the ‘HR’ logo on the top left shirt which is clearly a variation on a swastika.”

Another advised: “While the word ‘Reich’ and the Iron Cross are not themselves exclusive symbols of Nazi Germany, it’s one of those things where it’s safer not to make reference, just because of the common association.”

A UFC spokesman said the group had “no affiliation with any right-wing groups or ideology.

“The head of UFC UK, Marshall Zelaznik, is Jewish and as a company we would have absolutely nothing to do with anything antisemitic at all.

“Our fans and our fighters are into heavy metal and heavy rap whether they are black, white, Jewish, Japanese or Chinese. We have fans all over the world. Their lifestyle is tattoos, heavy metal and rap.”

Hoelzer Reich’s website states the company has no links to political organisations.

On the site, owner Jed Colvin writes: “Our interest in German imagery comes from a historical and ancestral standpoint. For many years, we have collected German memorabilia.

“We chose the name Hoelzer Reich, not only because it reflects Strength and Honour, but because it is part of our family history. We started this company using a family name, our love for apparel and design, and a desire to create a bad-ass line of apparel.”

    Last updated: 4:10pm, November 19 2009