Toni Valtonen is a Finnish mixed martial artist who fights all around the world for Team Finland in the M-1 Challenge, including two fights in the United States this year. A veteran with a 19-9 record, Valtonen hasn't done much in the ring to distinguish himself from any of the thousands of other athletes who compete in MMA.
But he is now attracting attention for something unrelated to his fighting: Valtonen has a swastika tattooed on his shoulder and the words "white pride" tattooed on his back.
Valtonen's tattoos are not exactly a secret -- there are plenty of photographs in which they're readily apparent (see here
for examples) -- but they've been largely ignored by MMA fans and the media, in large part because M-1 has required him to wear a patch over them while he fights.
But the patch over his swastika tattoo came off during a fight that was televised in the United States on HDNet, and the network later acknowledged on its Inside MMA
show that it received a complaint from a viewer about it. HDNet Fights CEO Andrew Simon declined to discuss the matter further, saying via e-mail, "We did a segment on Inside MMA
this week. Enough said."
Contacted by FanHouse, Valtonen's promotion, M-1 Global, issued a statement saying, "M-1 does not allow Mr. Valtonen to fight with any of these tattoos exposed. Before each of Mr. Valtonen's fights there are patches placed over his tattoos. M-1 regrets the fact that there were still tattoos shown when the patches got loose in the fight. By this statement M-1 wants to state that we do NOT in any way support the views of any individual in particular."
Valtonen could not be reached for comment by FanHouse, but M-1 passed along a statement from him saying, "I had a crazy and rebellious youth, I made some faults in my past and I am not proud of these marks. I regret that I ever had these tattoos made. Nowadays I am a dedicated family man and professional athlete, and I am not involved in any politics whatsoever."
M-1 and Valtonen are doing the right thing, of course, by distancing themselves from those tattoos. But if Valtonen is sincere, he ought to have them removed or permanently tattooed over. Until he does, it's hard to see how M-1 and HDNet can continue having him represent their companies.What do you think? Tell me on Twitter @MichaelDavSmith