(With a BFF like this, who needs the mob?)
M-1 Global president and Fedor Emelianenko puppet master Vadim Finkelchtein responded today via MMAJunkie, to several claims made in an open letter addressed to him by Alistair Overeem’s manager and trainer Bas Boon, including an assertion the longtime Russian promoter has strong proven ties to the Mafia in his country.
In the letter, Boon recalled an incident from a few years ago involving Finkelchtein’s right hand man, Apy Echteld, in which the latter allegedly threatened to use his mob contacts to have a Seattle-based promoter killed because of a soured business deal. Finkelchstein say that a nearly identical claim was made by Boon in the past, however that time the story involved a Dutch promoter.
According to Finkelchtein, who admitted he was surprised that Boon would release such a letter, responding to each of the ridiculous claims would take more effort than he cares to afford the Dutchman. One Boon insinuation he did speak to was his alleged relationship with the Russian mob.
"I have to address these comments, because accusations this serious cannot go unaddressed, but the less limelight that rubbish like what he just put out gets, the better everything will be. What he’s doing is just a very cynical way to get attention. What most displeases me about the open letter are the comments that accuse me of being a part of the Russian mafia," explained Finkelchtein. Throughout my professional life, I’ve been a business man, and I’ve created from scratch several companies. I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish, and I have a very respected standing not only in Russia, but in other countries, as well. I’ve held several MMA events in Russia, and government ministers come to the events. Olympic champions, members of Moscow’s government, they have all been present at these events. If I had any connections whatsoever to the mafia or any illegal businesses, these people would never, ever turn up to any of my events."
"The fact that these people turn up, it means a lot for M-1 Global, and it means a lot for me to show who I am and what my standing is in the Russian community."
Finkelchtein dismissed what he calls "imaginary stories" as nothing more than an attempt by Overeem’s handler to hype a potential fight between the charges of two sides using the media to add fuel to Boon’s plea for the bout.
"The first time I heard this from Bas was somewhere between five and seven years ago. So this is several years old, and it’s coming out again now. I have no idea what Bas is talking about. To me, it sounds like a children’s story," Finkelchtein said. "It sounds like something that you’d get between kids in a sandpit when there’s an argument, and someone else threatens to bring his big brother and come and beat the other up. This is particularly childish and ridiculous."
"If this was true, why was nothing official done?" Finkelchtein asked. "Why didn’t they go to the police? "
Finkelchtein did offer an apology to the Demolition Man for off-the-cuff remarks he made insinuating that the increasingly-more-muscled fighter is a steroid user.
"I would like to offer my apologies to Alistair. Those comments were made in a private conversation that had nothing to do with journalism and were never meant for public consumption. I would never accuse Alistair of anything or call him any names. I respect him as a fighter and as a person," Finkelchtein admitted. "Alistair has fought on a couple of M-1 events in Russia. I know him personally. We’ve spent time together more than once at dinners and things like that. I would never disrespect him in such a public forum. I would like to express my regret and disappointment that this statement was made public, and I never should have made them."
You would think that if Boon truly believed that the promotion had links to the mob, he would think long and hard about releasing a public declaration outing them. On the bright side, if he ends up with a horse head in his bed, he could always feed it to Alistair.