Police cop flak over fight night

Monday June 12, 2017 Written by Published in Local
Action from the controversial inaugural Fight Night event last Saturday. PHOTO: On The Rocks 17060923 Action from the controversial inaugural Fight Night event last Saturday. PHOTO: On The Rocks 17060923

A director of On The Rocks Nightclub claims police actions on Saturday last week almost jeopardised their inaugural Fight Night event which featured boxing and Muay Thai boxing bouts.

 

Giovanni Marsters claims police fueled “false rumours” about the involvement of New Zealand gang members in the event through a large police presence at the nightclub.

He said while club management appreciated police’s effort in beefing up event security, they had enough of their own security officers to control any incidents.

Marsters said the Fight Night was a huge success and everyone who attended the sold-out event enjoyed it.

Earlier this week, police said a number of activities around the island on Saturday warranted their presence at key spots on Rarotonga.

There was an unusually high number of police officers outside nightspots in Avarua over the weekend, which left many patrons baffled and prompted comments on social media.

About 20 uniformed police officers were seen around the On The Rocks Nightclub, although the Cook Islands Police Service declined to confirm exact numbers.

Police Commissioner Maara Tetava said officers conducted meetings and discussions with all of the hosts and organisers before the functions and events that took place on Saturday.

“The primary concern and role of the police at these various venues was to safeguard against any infringements of the law and keep the peace,” he said.

“Police are grateful for the cooperation of all the venues and organisers of these events, as well as the higher number of patrons who frequented the town area on Saturday.”

But Marsters says the club’s owners feel victimised by police’s actions on Saturday and the false rumours about the event spread in the community.

 “The police say that alcohol and boxing don’t go together. In the past, we always had boxing events at the Banana Court. We feel as the owners of On The Rocks that we are not being treated fairly.

“Police did go a little overboard and there are rumours that they actually tried to stop the fight from happening. We know that because not all the boxers turned up; they were told not to fight.

“For the sake of reducing crime on the island, I reckon police should have fielded a boxer themselves to make the event more integrated. They had one boxer who was supposed to fight, but he was told not to.

“That’s what we heard.”

Marsters said the purpose of hosting events such as the Fight Night was to give Cook Islanders, including ex-convicts, an opportunity to “redeem themselves”.

He said On The Rocks was providing an avenue for people to keep out of trouble while helping nurture a future local Ultimate Fighting Club (UFC) star.

“There were rumours going around that there would be a big rumble.

“They got their idea from the sky. In fact it was safe. Even the fighters were happy; they mingled with the people after the fight and had a good time. Everything ran so smoothly.

“We had no problem with the police presence, it just goes to show that the rumours were not true.

“But I want to send a strong message out to those who want to cause trouble in town, especially in our bar and any other bars: (they should) do it the right way and come into the ring if they think they are man enough. Hopefully through this, we can send a Cook Islander to the UFC in the future.”

Marsters thanked UFC star Mark Hunt, adding the heavyweight champion was an inspiration to Cook Islanders.

He said the Fight Night would now be staged annually over Queen’s Birthday weekend.

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