Polish promotion under fire for using ex-gangster in publicity stunt

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MMA-VIP, a freak fight promotion that made the rounds on the internet last November due to hosting two intergender matches, has once again come under fire for exposing one of the leaders of the most notorious mafia in the history of Poland.

Who is the real boss?

At the start of Saturday’s YouTube press conference, the promotion’s founder, Marcin Najman stated that unlike other monster fighting organizations, where professional wrestling like fashion various celebrities act as on-screen authority figures, MMA VIP is led by a real boss.

After that, the main theme music from The Godfather Movie began to play, and the masked individual walked to center stage and sat down in a throne-like chair. The man in the suit took off the mask and revealed himself to be Andrzej Zielinski, better known by his nickname “Słowik” (Nightingale), one of the former bosses of the Pruszkow Mafia.

Although his attendance was short, as he invited everyone to watch the upcoming event, it caused an outpouring of criticism towards Najman, the promotion itself and its sponsors.

The Life and Crimes of Andrzej Zielinski.

Zielinski committed his first crime in 1978 when he was just 18 years old. While on a road trip with his friends, he drove the car off the road and crashed it. It was decided to leave the vehicle because no one wanted to take responsibility for the accident. The next morning he was arrested by the police as the car was reported stolen and Zielinski was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison, which in his own words totally deprived him and cursed his future.

Being out and in prison for multiple charges of robbery and robbery, he makes a name for himself and wide connections in the underworld. At the end of the 1980s, he moved to Warsaw, where he switched to burglary and extortion. In 1987 he was sentenced to 6 years in prison, but two years later he left prison due to health problems. During this stay, and shortly after leaving prison, he was introduced to members of the Pruszkow Mafia.

The Mafia Pruszkow, a name inspired by the town located near the Polish capital Warsaw, was founded during the troubling period caused by the transition from the USSR that linked the People’s Republic of Poland to a democratic state. Zielinski, among other mobsters, participated in smuggling, primarily illegal alcohol, extortion, theft, drug trafficking, kidnapping, and assassination. The Pruszkow Mafia was so notorious and feared across the country that other smaller criminal organizations paid for a “licensing agreement” to pose as its “branch” in order to conduct their operations without interference from the authorities or other gangs.

In 1993, the current President of Poland, Lech Walesa pardoned ‘Slowik’ quashing his six-year sentence. It was rumored that the mob boss paid Walesa a $150,000 bribe, but this has never been proven.

In 2000, he ran to Spain to avoid being accused of leading a criminal organization, but four years later he was returned to Poland by extradition and sentenced to an additional six years in prison. During his sentence, he was also accused of having participated in the assassination of the chief of the Polish police, Mark Papala. The charges were dropped in 2013, the same year he left prison after being convicted of other crimes, unrelated to the Pruszkow mafia.

“Slowik” was arrested again in 2017 and charged with tax extortion. He reportedly claimed PLN 35 million in a tax return. He was released from prison in 2020 after posting bail of PLN 400K.

Disgusting Glorification

The press conference was held to announce the card for the upcoming MMA-VIP 4 event that will take place in Kielce, but it can be said that the plan backfired as the only thing being talked about is Zielinski’s participation. Many viewers made no secret of their disgust and called it a disgusting glorification of an individual responsible for destroying countless lives and harming many other innocent people. One of the most popular comments on Twitter states that “Slowik” must be very confused because back then he had to use brute force to get money and now he gets it just by standing in the spotlight .

Marcin Stepniewski who is a member of the Kielce city council announced that he had informed the mayor about all this because the event was to take place in a place owned and managed by the city itself. He later said that the city authorities had decided to withdraw from renting the venue for this particular event.

As that was not enough, in the main event, Najman has to fight another famous gangster, Mirosław Dąbrowski who is better known by the nickname “Nadarzyn Bear”. His criminal activities began in the late 80s with smuggling, then he moved to selling stolen cars, illegal alcohol and drug trafficking. He had many run-ins with the law and was charged with possession of drugs and firearms, but despite his notoriety and connections in Warsaw’s underworld, he was never proven to be leading a gang. organized criminal or belonged to a criminal group.

For many, the use of ex-thugs as a publicity stunt is proof that mixed martial arts is for an audience that applauds crime and holds it in high regard as a way to secure a better life. Others point out that this type of promotion is typical of a monster-fighting circuit, as promoters are willing to push the envelope for attention, even at the cost of being tasteless. There are also those who sum it all up to highlight the sad state Poland finds itself in, as a country where gangsters are treated like celebrities, despite their brutal and dark past.



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