In Sweden, the fight club of hooligans

No rounds, no gloves. Concrete and wire mesh as a ring. In recent months, the Kots clandestine ultra-violent fighting has agitated social networks and the authorities. We come to compete there from all over Europe, even from Switzerland. A daily report Time.

Jesper *, an 18-year-old Danish man, and Marco *, a 19-year-old Berliner, gaze at each other, surrounded by construction fences which delimit the ring. The concrete floor acts as a floor. Faces camouflaged by hoods or balaclavas, the dozens of spectators stare at the two fighters. For eight minutes, they’ll trade hooks, uppercuts and kicks. At the King of the Streets Fight Club (Kots), no gloves, helmets or rounds. The orgy of violence ends when one of the two adversaries is KO or by decision of the arbitrator.

The juvenile figures of Jesper and Marco are quickly inundated with blood. The German’s naked torso is covered with a thin layer of dust that strews the concrete. The duel, won by the Dane, marks the spirits by its violence. “The referees should have stopped him earlier, but both wanted to continue”, estimates Brice *, trainer of several fighters in this edition. On Instagram, Marco then posts a photo with his rival. Their swollen faces reflect the ferocity of the fight. “I had a broken nose, two broken phalanges on my right hand, as well as a cracked middle finger”, he confides.

Kots, professional communication

A dozen illegal pugilates are linked this 1is November in this warehouse in Gothenburg, Sweden. Fighters from all over Europe have come together for a life-size remake of the film Fight Club, by David Fincher. “The KOTS has been around since 2013, but its popularity has increased since 2018, as the people involved actively relay their events, ”explains Robert Claus, a German specialist in hooliganism and combat sports. Behind the organization, an obscure group called Hype Crew, close to the hooligan universe. Some of its members (English, Israeli or Swedish) are part of the “fighters”. Difficult to know more. They did not wish to answer our questions.

Although illegal, the Kots has an almost professional online presence: 90,000 followers on Instagram, 50,000 on Facebook, videos viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube and sponsors like the combat sports brand Askari Fighter. The Hype Crew even found a way to take advantage of it. A paid platform allows you to watch the fights live and bet on the future winner. The Kots website presents the fighters and the summary rules of their duels. Among which: 5 kilos maximum difference between opponents, ban on submitting your opponent (classic practice in MMA) or the fact that only the winner comes away with money. “They created the myth of the most difficult combat sport”, analysis Robert Claus.

“Control my inner fire”

This professionalism is not confined to communication according to Danius *, Lithuanian competitor who participated in the last edition. “They host you in a superb hotel, offer you the equipment, make your bands, come and pick you up by bus. There is a doctor, referees, it’s square ”, he illustrates. Used to clandestine fights in Eastern Europe, trainer Brice describes these fights as spectacular, but less violent than boxing: “There is a lot of blood, but the long-term effects are less.” Hard to believe in the sight of KO frequent …

The participants interviewed discovered the Kots via social networks. “It was by watching the videos that I wanted to participate”, testifies Marco, who then contacted the Hype Crew via the Telegram secure messaging app. An opponent was then assigned to him. The process was the same for Danius, who defeated a Rayo Vallecano hooligan in early November. Practicing the MMA for three years, the Lithuanian has imposed a two-month preparation. “Half the time, I practiced six days a week: run in the morning, work, then intense session of an hour and a half.” The objective of this Spartan training? Put in order his life enamelled with parties and alcohol. “I did this neither for the money nor for the glory, but to control my inner fire”, he metaphor.

Playground for hooligans

Over the months, the Kots asserts itself as a meeting place for hooligans from all over Europe. Brondby, Borussia Dortmund, Eintracht Frankfurt, Dinamo Zagreb, Hammarby, Ajax Amsterdam… The big supporters of these clubs have passed over the concrete of Kots. “This reflects the modes of development of hooliganism: it is changing towards a combat sport in its own right which is moving away from stadiums”, notes the sociologist specializing in supporterism Nicolas Hourcade.

For the first time, during the last edition, a Swiss and two French took part, including two with a controversial profile. The first, Joseph *, introduced himself as a member of the SK Wallis, a group of hooligans made up of neo-Nazis who are growing in Valais, as shown […] a detailed daily investigation The Nouvelliste. He did not wish to answer our questions.

White Power tattoo on the neck, swastika on the biceps, the second is a neo-Nazi activist from Lille, member of the Losc Army hooligans and founder of the combat sports brand Pride France, popular with far-right circles. A paradox for an organization claiming to be apolitical. “The pattern that dominates in Kots is that of violent and authoritarian masculinity, more than a left-right divide. Among other things, Afghan refugees and European neo-Nazis have already fought against each other ”, nuance Robert Claus, who points behind the participation of these activists a deeper problem: “Young martial arts enthusiasts are looking at the Kots publications and they can deduce that swastika tattoos are quite normal…”

Clement Le Foll

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