(If you can’t recite Philippians 4:13 without Googling it first, you’re not a real fan of MMA. / Photo via FightParrot)
Dustin Holyko is not a racist or a criminal. He’s just a regular guy with an “SS” lightning-bolt tattoo on his back, “WHITE PRIDE” inked on his biceps, and one of the longest rap sheets outside of Krazy Horse Bennett. That’s basically the story that Holyko is sticking to in the wake of his firing from World Series of Fighting.
In case you haven’t been following this story, here’s the basic outline: On Saturday, the World Series of Fighting 11 NBC broadcast included a prelim bout between local Florida fighter Dustin Holyko and Neiman Gracie; Holyko lost by second-round submission. After noticing his unfortunate tattoos, BloodyElbow’s Brent Brookhouse did some digging and learned that Holyko had been arrested for everything from domestic battery (three times!) to animal cruelty, and is currently on probation for an “escape” charge in 2012, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
Apparently, World Series of Fighting knew none of this before they booked Holyko, who was hired sight-unseen, without any sort of background check. After the controversy went public, WSOF immediately cut ties with the fighter, and released the following statement to Sherdog:
“Honestly, we were not aware of Dustin Holyko’s criminal record or any potentially offensive tattoos prior to him competing at WSOF 11. He was licensed by the Florida commission prior to the fight, and it was his third professional fight under their jurisdiction. That said, with the information that has since come to light, we immediately elected to terminate our relationship with Mr. Holyko.”
Sherdog adds that Holyko had been charged with 16 criminal offenses in total, according to public records, and that he’d been arrested as recently as April 23rd due to a probation violation. But of course, none of those arrests are Holyko’s fault — and neither are the offensive tattoos. Here are some quotes from a new MMAJunkie interview with Holyko, which paints the fighter as a standup guy who you’d be happy to bring home to mom…
On his tattoos: “When I was 18, I went to prison, and I got white pride tattooed on my arms because prison is pretty racially separated. I am proud of my race, but I’m not racist or any kind of Nazi. One of my trainers, Mike Vasquez, he’s Puerto Rican and Spanish, and he’s like a dad to me. A lot of my training partners and friends are from different races. I have not a racist bone in my body at all.”
On one of his domestic battery charges, which resulted from a fight between an ex and a recent girlfriend: “The cops came, and somehow, I ended up going to jail for it. I never laid a finger on anybody, and that’s where the whole domestic thing comes from.”
On the animal cruelty charge, which resulted from Holyko punching a neighbor for hurting his pitbull, while his pitbull and the neighbor’s pitbull were fighting, or something like that?: “We got in a big fight, (and other neighbors from the same house) actually jumped me and beat me up pretty good. That night, I get charged with animal cruelty, and I got three battery charges. In the process of everything going, the girl that I was with got hit; she was trying to break everything up. Never once told the cops, ‘He hit me.’ She didn’t know how she got hit; somehow she got elbowed trying to break up the fight and get everybody off of me. And they charged me with domestic violence. All the charges got dropped, too.”
On the “escape” charge, which he caught for walking away from a police car in handcuffs following a drunken brawl in Daytona: “I was trying to be funny,” he said. “There was some chicks there, and a couple of my buddies. They sat us on the curb when they were doing their reports, and they weren’t paying attention. So (my friends) were like, ‘C’mon.’ It was kind of a joke. I got out, walked away, and I tried to hang out in the clubs with handcuffs on; we were all laughing. Next thing I know, the cops catch up to me, slam me on the ground and bring me back. They charged me with a misdemeanor, but the state attorney got a hold of it and jacked it up to a second-degree escape charges, which I could have done 15 years over that.”
On his wild past: “I’d like to sit here and make excuses here and there, but I did what I did. I made a lot of mistakes. I was a dumb kid. Until a few years ago, I turned my life around. I’m still not perfect. I’m sure everybody out there has probably has drank a little too much and done something stupid. The ones that don’t change and keep doing it, those are the ones that are just dumb. I changed my life around.”
On his fighting future: “I make plenty of money*. I’m cool with it or without it. I’d love to have the opportunity, but if not, I’m still going to do me.”
* Holyko runs a successful tree-cutting business, by the way. “If you saw my house, you’d think I’m a lawyer,” he said. “I work really hard.”
And finally, here’s WSOF matchmaker Ali Abdelaziz, trying to shift some of the blame on BloodyElbow:
“We don’t do background checks on people. But if something comes up, and it’s something we need to know about, I believe us and the media are all part of the team. If the guy who wrote the story knew about the information, he should have told us before the fight. I know it’s not his job, but to protect our sport and grow, if anybody has information about this kind of behavior, they should let us know. We don’t tolerate this; we had no idea this kid had this behavior or a tattoo or an affiliation, but he will never fight for the WSOF again. It’s embarrassing, and that will never happen again.”
Here’s the part where you tell us that there’s nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage, and Cain Velasquez is the *real* racist. Don’t let us down, MMA fans.