December 07, 2009
If you thought you saw some disturbing imagery in the Octagon on Saturday night, your eyes did not deceive you. In his loss to Marc Bocek, Joe Brammer wore a walk-in shirt from Hoelzer Reich, a clothing company who has come under fire for having Nazi-esque symbols on their clothing.
Brammer's shirt has iron crosses all over it, a symbol associated with the Third Reich. Hoelzer Reich has also sold shirts with the SS symbol used by Nazis during World War II and other images used by the Third Reich. Even the skulls on the shirts -- ubiquitous on MMA gear -- are carbon copies of the skulls that were on SS uniforms.
If Brammer wants to wear this shirt down Main St., he is free to do so. The First Amendment guarantees him that right. But free speech does not mean consequence-free speech. Fighters shouldn't be able to wear shirts into the Octagon (and make sponsor money from broadcasts) that promote something so hurtful and offensive.
Hoelzer Reich's defenders -- including Strikeforce fighter Lyle "Fancypants" Beerbohm -- say that the clothing only promotes German-American pride, and as a German-American, that offends me more than anything. I am proud to be German, and live in a traditionally German area of Chicago. We are all able to show our pride in Deutschland without paying homage to such a dark part of history.
The UFC has banned clothing from the Octagon because of squabbles with clothing companies, or because of contract disputes with fighters. They need to take a stand on this, and not allow Hoelzer Reich clothing on a UFC or WEC fighter.
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