‘Fight hype’ ignites racism complaint

Reigning heavyweight EFC champion Danie 'Pitbull' van Heerden Photo: Ettienne van Rensburg

VEREENIGING. – Extreme fighting, or more specifically extreme fighting- hype, has tangled two of the country’s top fighters – one white and the other black – in a racism debate which both now want to put behind them.

Elvis 'The Bomber' Moyo. Photo: Facebook

Elvis ‘The Bomber’ Moyo. Photo: Facebook

The “Gorilla Warfare” incident earlier this month involves the posting of a photo on Facebook – of a gorilla next to that of black fighter Elvis “The Bomber” Moyo, by reigning heavyweight EFC champion Danie “Pitbull” van Heerden, a fighter and businessman from Vereeniging. But both fighters say they want to put the matter behind them and need to focus on what is important to them both – seeing who is the real champion in the ring.

Van Heerden was suspended by official sporting body EFC and now faces a formal disciplinary on Saturday, which could see him stripped of his title if found guilty and his fight with Moyo cancelled. This week Van Heerden said he was no racist but would have to be more sensitive on perceptions related to fight-hype or smack-talk – and would develop and implement an anti-racist programme in the sport with the EFC if given the opportunity.

His fighting-hype target, “The Bomber, has also from the beginning rejected that Pitbull is in any way racist and this week said he and Van Heerden “deserve to fight each other…the fans deserve it.”
“Danie’s fighting career should be re-instated,” Moyo told VaalWeekblad this week.
The matter erupted on social media on September 15 after van Heerden posted a photo of a gorilla on Facebook when referring to black fighter Elvis “The Bomber” Moyo, who previously also traded hyped-up insults by calling the champ a “dog” and a “puppy.”

Moyo has been photographed in clothing bearing a large fanged gorilla logo on the front of a T-shirt. Van Heerden has since apologised unreservedly to fans and Moyo for any perception of racism. Moyo has accepted the apology in full, saying he “has never known Danie to be a racist so I’ve never regarded him as one.”

Yet the EFC sporting body is expected to continue with disciplining Van Heerden, but apparently on a charge of “disrespectful behaviour” and not racism, according to documentation in possession of VaalWeekblad. Van Heerden said it was hugely unfair of the EFC to have suspended his title and stopped his fight with Moyo. The matter has also ignited fierce debate in Extreme Fighting circles on the role of the EFC in pushing and encouraging fighters to accelerate the public “fight-hype” or “smack-talk” used by all participants in run-ups to matches.

Such talk is seen as an essential part of the fighting persona of participants and central to the marketing of the sport and destabilising opponents psychologically. Moyo this week told VaalWeekblad: “I’m for him (Danie) fighting because I need plenty of fights and subtracting a heavyweight from the list is NO good for me.”

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