Neo-Nazi MMA fighter is being tracked by Bosnian police after expulsion from Serbia

The founder of a white supremacist gang once known as the “premier MMA fight club of the alt-right” is being hunted by Bosnian police…

By: Karim Zidan | 2 years ago
Neo-Nazi MMA fighter is being tracked by Bosnian police after expulsion from Serbia
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

The founder of a white supremacist gang once known as the “premier MMA fight club of the alt-right” is being hunted by Bosnian police after being expelled by neighbouring Serbia.

According to a report citing the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), Robert Rundo—a California native who founded the far-right Rise Above Movement (RAM) organization in 2017—entered Bosnia through the Sepak border crossing near Zvornik on February 11, 2021. The news was confirmed by Svevlad Hoffman, an adviser to the Bosnian Border Police director.

“At that point, the Border Police did not have at their disposal the information that Rundo posed a threat to national security, because the OSA [Bosnia’s Intelligence and Security Agency] did not provide the information in time,” Hoffman revealed.

Prior to the string of arrests in late 2018 that led to the incarceration of several key members , RAM boasted over 50 members who trained in various combat sports such as MMA and boxing, which they later applied during street fights and protests. The group has been spotted in Santa Monica, where RAM members tried to disrupt a Committee for Racial Justice meeting, and in San Bernardino, where they took part in an “anti-Sharia law” protest. They also engaged in physical violence during protests in Huntington Beach, Berkeley and Charlottesville.

RAM members infiltrated protests and disrupted proceedings by fighting with those opposing their ultra-nationalist ideology. They concealed their identities using skull masks and goggles, while wrapping their hands with tape in preparation for physical altercations. They then glorified their antics in propaganda videos posted on social media.

The white supremacist group’s penchant for MMA and underground fight clubs is one of the main things that distinguishes it from various other white supremacist groups in the United States. It has also helped RAM expand beyond the borders of the US, recruit new members, and network with a host of other neo-Nazi groupsdabbling in MMA around the world.

Rundo, who was previously arrested on rioting charges in relation to a rally in Huntington Beach in 2018 only to have the charges dismissed by a district judge, also founded the white nationalist propaganda outfit known as the International Conservative Community, which boasts a network of neo-Nazis around the world, including groups in Greece, Poland, Sweden, Hungary, Russia and Canada. The ICC is behind the propaganda campaign for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old charged with the fatal shooting of two protesters during a demonstration in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Rundo’s campaign included spreading artwork depicting Rittenhouse with the caption, “Kyle was Right.” The ICC has planted stickers, large-scale graffiti work, and banners emblazoned with Rittenhouse’s image across Europe and North America. In Serbia, where Rundo was living in 2020, the group painted a picture of an armed Rittenhouse standing proud with a Schwarze Sonne (German for Black Sun) as his backdrop. The Black Sun (also known as the sonnerad) is synonymous with far-right groups that traffic in neo-Nazi ideologies. The painting in Serbia was featured alongside a Confederate flag and a picture of a deranged Homer Simpson aiming a gun, with the caption “KILL YOUR LOCAL ANTIFA SCUM.”

Most recently, Rundo started a podcast with Denis Nikitin, a Russian neo-Nazi considered to be the godfather of the extreme-right MMA scene, where they teach fellow nationalists how to form their own hate groups. NIkitin, who rose to infamy after launching the neo-Nazi MMA organization and clothing brand known as White Rex, has also been banned from entering any Schengen-area European countries. It is also worth noting that at least two of Rundo and Nikitin’s podcast episodes were released after Rundo entered Bosnia, including an episode that focused on “moving and living abroad” as well as the “perks” of living in Eastern Europe.

On 4 March, the LA Times revealed that a US Federal Appeals Court had reinstated rioting charges against Rundo and three accomplices from RAM, ruling that they could be tried for their roles in riots in California in 2017. Despite facing potential arrest, Rundo remains active on Telegram, the social media platform popular among the extreme right. He continues to promote his organization’s website while sharing videos promoting white nationalists from across Europe.

“WHITE UNITY,” Rundo wrote on Mach 29.

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About the author
Karim Zidan
Karim Zidan

Karim Zidan is a investigative reporter and feature writer focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. He has written for BloodyElbow since 2014 and has served as an associate editor since 2016. He also writes for The New York Times and The Guardian. Karim has been invited to speak about his work at numerous universities, including Princeton, and was a panelist at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He also participated in the United Nations counter-terrorism conference in 2021. His reporting on Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA, much of which was done for Bloody Elbow, has led to numerous award nominations, and was the basis of an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary.

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