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M-1's Finkelchtein addresses Boon's "rubbish," apologizes for Overeem comments

M-1's Finkelchtein addresses Boon's "rubbish," apologizes for Overeem comments

by John Morgan on Apr 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm ET


While U.S. mixed martial arts fans may not be extremely familiar with the figures involved, the rivalry between M-1 Global president Vadim Finkelchtein and Golden Glory co-owner Bas Boon is nothing new.

Quite the contrary, the two have traded verbal jabs since the heyday of PRIDE, and neither is much a fan of the other.

But recently those jabs turned into knockout punches as Boon took to the Internet with an open letter that accused M-1 Global of ties to organized crime, death threats and patently avoiding a fight for its chief client, Fedor Emelianenko.

"To be honest, I was very surprised that this open letter came out," Finkelchtein told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) through interpreter and fellow M-1 Global executive Evgeni Kogan. "It was really random.

"In general, I find the open letter very distasteful. It's practically a waste to reply to the specifics of that letter because it's so blatantly ridiculous."

But the specifics of the letter, originally posted on the Russian-language website Valetudo.ru and later reprinted in a number of MMA message boards worldwide, included such strong accusations that Finkelchtein admits he has little choice but to address the comments directly.

Chiefly among those concerns was that Finkelchtein has strong ties with the Russian mafia, a claim the M-1 Global exec adamantly denies.

"What most displeases me about the open letter are the comments that accuse me of being a part of the Russian mafia," Finkelchtein said. "My working life started at the age of 14, which at that time – and it's still that way – you weren't officially allowed to start working at the age of 14. But my mother died when I was young, and I had to work.

"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."

Finkelchtein points to the upstanding individuals in the Russian community that have for years attended his fight cards as simple proof of his reputation as a respected businessman.

"I've held several MMA events in Russia, and government ministers come to the events," Finkelchtein said. "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. They wouldn't communicate with me. But as it is, we're good friends.

"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."

"To me, it sounds like a children's story"

Linked to these claims of ties to organized crime is a story told by Boon that recounts an M-1 Global executive, Apy Echteld, threatening to contract a hitman to assassinate a Seattle-based promoter that M-1 had done business with. A similar story had been relayed years prior that involved Echteld and a Dutch promoter.

Finkelchtein dismissed the reports as nothing more than an active imagination.

"The first time I heard this from Bas was somewhere between five and seven years ago," Finkelchtein said. "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. 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."

Finkelchtein points out that the story is several years old, so if true, why were the proper authorities never alerted?

"If this was true, why was nothing official done?" Finkelchtein asked. "Why didn't they go to the police? Why is this thing now seven years later and just in the words of Bas Boon, which is frankly more like a children's story."

Echteld, who is currently hospitalized in Holland battling a condition described as "similar to meningitis," wasn't immediately available for comment.

"I would like to offer my apologies to Alistair"

While the conflict between Boon and Finkelchtein has developed over time, the M-1 executive believes the Golden Glory head's latest outburst is due in no small part to some unfortunate comments made regarding Alistair Overeem. The "Demolition Man" is currently Boon's prize pupil, and Finkelchtein made a few off-color remarks regarding Overeem's increasingly muscular frame and what role chemistry may have played in his recent success.

Finkelchtein now admits the comments were in poor taste, though he insists the statements were never meant for public consumption.

"I would like to offer my apologies to Alistair," Finkelchtein said. "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.

"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."

Nevertheless, Finkelchtein does not shy away from his stance that Overeem, Strikeforce's heavyweight champion, still needs another bout or two before earning a shot against Emelianenko.

"I have never officially said that I accuse Overeem of being on performance enhancing drugs," Finkelchtein said. "There's no way I could know that. So the constant discussion in the media by Bas Boon that I accused Overeem of being on steroids and that Fedor and I are afraid to fight him is ridiculous. There's nothing about Overeem that concerns us more than any other fighter. It's nothing positive or negative about him; it's just another fight.

"Is he ready to fight Fedor? I would just like to have a look at the fight between Alistair and Brett Rogers, which is coming soon. That will show us a lot, and we'll definitely know the readiness of Alistair Overeem, his progression up the heavyweight rankings, and whether he possibly deserves a shot at Fedor."

Finkelchtein believes Boon's latest tirade is chiefly motivated by a desire for Overeem to fight Emelianenko. And while the M-1 Global executive doesn't rule out the possibility of the fight in the very near future, he hardly believes the extra theatrics are necessary to see the matchup become a reality.

"I am very disappointed and surprised and annoyed and unhappy with the rubbish that has been disseminating," Finkelchtein said. "I think this is a very poor way to try and promote a potential fight between Alistair Overeem and Fedor. Bas is doing what should be the job of a promoter.

"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."

And if Finkelchtein is being honest, and all of Boon's claims have been fabricated, would the Russian consider legal action against his Dutch nemesis?

"Bas is essentially insane," Finkelchtein said. "He's out of his mind. What would be the point of taking him to court? Is there any chance that legal action would get him locked up with the criminally insane? Probably not."
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