Damien Roche, the former promoter of the Fury MMA promotion in Macau, has professed his innocence and claims that he is not to blame for a failed show earlier this month that left fighters stranded in the country. Roche blames the situation on an elaborate setup by former associates Kevin Don and Olivier Doleuze, who accused him of embezzling millions.
Roche claims that he was no longer a part of Dynamax; the company that signed the contract to hold the event at the City of Dreams. He alleges that Don and Doleuze set him up as the fall guy when the event collapsed.
Fury 2: “Armageddon” was scheduled to take place on October 9th at the City of Dreams casino in Macau. Among those who flew to Macau to compete on the card were Japan’s Eiji Ishikawa, Brazil’s Carina Damm and Mongolia’s Esui. Upon arriving in the country, fighters and managers discovered that the event was in disarray. Attempts to contact Roche, who was still believed to be the event’s promoter, were unsuccessful and fighters soon found themselves stranded in the country after hotel rooms and return flights were discovered to have been cancelled.
As initially reported, the event was then cancelled entirely amidst allegations from Don and Doleuze that Roche had embezzled nearly $13 million HK from the Kontact Gym and the City of Dreams itself. What has followed has been a war of words as supporters and associates of Don and Doleuze lay all blame for the failed event on Roche, while Roche and his supporters claim that he is innocent and the victim of a setup from his former partners.
At issue was the fact that Roche was initially unavailable for comment when contacted by numerous individuals in Macau who were involved with the event. On October 6th, word broke from Macau that the event had been cancelled and that the situation had become chaotic as people searched for answers.
MMARising.com attempted to obtain comments from Roche through a source in Macau, but Roche’s phone had been turned off and he did not immediately respond. This would become a key point in the following days, as Don claimed that Roche turned off his phone and went into hiding after embezzling the money. He further stated that Roche was wanted by the Hong Kong police.
Not so, says Roche, who claims that he had turned off his phone for 24 hours after Don posted Roche’s home address and contact information on Facebook and encouraged fighters to direct all questions and concerns over fight purses to Roche. Overwhelmed by requests for comments and payments for a show that he alleges that he was no longer even a part of, Roche admits that he was indeed unavailable to address the situation at the time.
As a result, his account of the events could not be published in the initial report on this website.
Don further alleged that Roche had fled to Thailand in order to escape Hong Kong authorities, but both Roche and an associate, Seth Fishman of Elite Boxing in Thailand, state that Roche had travelled to Thailand for an unrelated business deal that pre-dated the Fury event. According to Fishman, this deal has stalled as a result of the accusations put forth by Don and Doleuze.
The City of Dreams casino, which remained caught up in the middle of the situation, has yet to offer a public comment on the matter. Don alleged that the casino had accused Roche of stealing $600,000 HK from them in fees for the Fury event. Roche says that this is completely untrue and has a very different account of the events.
According to Roche, the City of Dreams signed a contract that would have provided him with $1.2 million HK in funding to cover expenses for the Fury event. This was to be paid in two instalments of $600,000 HK apiece. Roche received the first payment and used the money to cover advertising costs, production fees, trophies for victorious fighters, belts and flights to and from Macau. Prior to receiving the second payment, Roche says that Don and Doleuze cancelled the event and put all blame on him, since he was the promoter and the “face” of the show.
Don also alleged that Roche had embezzled $12 million HK from the Kontact Gym in Hong Kong and had been subsequently fired as a result. Roche vehemently denies this and states that he had entered into a partnership with Doleuze – a Hong Kong-based horse racing jockey – to serve as co-directors of the gym. According to Roche, the money in question was invested in the gym by Doleuze when the establishment was first formed, no money was ever stolen, and that this matter had absolutely nothing to do with the Fury event.
Fishman, who had organised Muay Thai fights and worked with ESPN to set up a television deal for Fury, has stated that the City of Dreams informed him that it was Don and Doleuze who cancelled the Fury event and that Roche was not involved. This would also apply to the cancelled hotel rooms and return flights which left fighters and managers stranded. MMARising.com has thus far been unable to confirm this report from the City of Dreams itself, which has yet to offer a public comment despite allegedly planning to put out a press release exonerating Roche on October 11th.
Roche now maintains that he simply wishes to salvage his reputation, which was damaged from the allegations that Don put forth. He has been in Thailand working with Fishman and other members of Elite Boxing on the pre-existing deal that he says took him away from Macau in the first place. Sources tell MMARising.com that Roche has also returned to Hong Kong and is not wanted by the police, but this has not been confirmed.
MMARising.com has spoken with individuals who worked with Roche on previous projects in and around Macau. Most spoke highly of their past dealings and expressed shock and surprise at the accusations that had been directed towards Roche by Don and Doleuze. The back-and-forth exchange between both sides of the argument continues, but all fighters who were stranded in Macau have made their way home. Compensation for their losses is unlikely.
While the City of Dreams has yet to publicly comment on the matter to set the record straight, further updates will follow if and when the casino releases a public statement or replies to requests for comment from this website.