(Makes a perfect Hanukkah gift.)
When Octagon newcomer Joe Brammer walked out for his debut at UFC 106 wearing apparel from controversial clothing manufacturer Hoelzer Reich, it raised a lot of eyebrows around the MMA world. Why was an organization that has banned sponsors for the pettiest of reasons allowing clothing that seemed so obviously, shall we say, inspired by Nazi Germany to appear on their broadcast? Cage Writer’s Maggie Hendricks got after the Zuffa brass about it, and now the WEC’s Reed Harris tells her that Zuffa fighters won’t be wearing this particular mix of skulls and Iron Crosses any more.
Of course, Hoelzer Reich still maintains that there’s nothing Nazi-ish about their company. They just make clothing that is, according to them, "based on our interest of WWI and WWII Germany." They also only sponsor white fighters (edit: they do appear to have one black guy on the payroll), though that could be a coincidence. What’s not a coincidence, however, is the repeated similarities between Hoelzer Reich designs and Nazi imagery.
The company will tell you that they’re just proud of their German heritage and that’s why they often model their designs off Nazi military symbols and uniforms. Sorry, but that doesn’t fly. Want to know why? Go ask an actual German. There’s one specific period of their national history that they’re really not proud of, and it just so happens to be the period most commonly associated with the Iron Cross, which Hoelzer Reich describes as "a symbol of courage, honor, and leadership."
Yeah, and the swastika is just an ancient Hindu religious symbol.
It’s possible that Hoelzer Reich is just a misguided group of people whose sense of style is trapped in 1930′s Germany. It’s also possible that they saw all the money Affliction was making by appropriating the symbols of other cultures and selling them at the mall next to the Orange Julius stand and they decided to try something similar.
What’s not possible is that they had no idea their stuff might possibly be associated with Nazi Germany. They knew what they were doing. That it took Zuffa this long to realize it is what’s really amazing.