Fight Factory Owner Damien Roche Accused Of EmbezzlementFight Factory gym co-owner Damien Roche is once again facing allegations of embezzlement following the closure of the Patong Beach, Thailand-based training centre this past week. Roche is accused of disappearing with tens of thousands of dollars taken from investors, suppliers and former friends.

This incident is not the first time that Roche has been the subject of similar allegations. In October 2010, fighters were stranded in Macau after the Fury 2 MMA event was cancelled at the last minute amidst allegations that its promoter, Roche, had fled with event money totalling close to $100,000.

On October 7, 2010, first reported on the situation surrounding the Fury 2 event and its cancellation. Fighters on the Fury card, including former Strikeforce and BodogFight competitor Carina Damm, were stranded in Macau when the event, set to take place at the City of Dreams in Macau, was abruptly cancelled. Roche, one of the promoters for the ill-fated event, allegedly went into hiding after reportedly fleeing with 600,000 Hong Kong dollars from the City of Dreams and more than 12 million Hong Kong dollars from the Kontact MMA Training Center, where he served as a director.

As a result, all of the fighter hotel rooms and return flights were cancelled and some were forced to wait days before they could fly home. Roche’s former associate, Olivier Doleuze, pinned blame for the event cancellation and missing money on Roche. In the days following, Roche spoke with and denied responsibility, claiming that he had been set up to take the fall by Doleuze. In response to accusations that he had embezzled money, Roche denied that he had taken any funds and stated that he had, in fact, paid some of the Fury 2 fighters out of his own pocket.

Shortly after Roche’s comments were published, further accusations were made that alleged that both Roche and Doleuze – a Hong Kong-based horse racing jockey – had conspired to use the Kontact gym to illegally launder money from fixed horse races. Roche maintained that he had no involvement, but did state that Doleuze had indeed been under investigation for laundering money through another company. Roche further noted that he was never investigated for any crimes and later returned to Hong Kong without incident on multiple occasions.

The City of Dreams refused to comment on any of the controversy surrounding the Fury 2 cancellation and the matter was never resolved. Roche, who says that he lost a large sum of money as a result of the Fury 2 situation, moved to Thailand and subsequently started the Fight Factory Fitness and MMA Training Center earlier this year, where he served as a trainer and co-owner.


This past week, was contacted by multiple sources alleging that Roche had taken upwards of 4.5 million Thai Bahts – roughly $150,000 U.S. – from the gym’s co-owner, its investors, equipment suppliers and former friends, and had subsequently disappeared. The gym was shut down and all of its equipment was returned to its suppliers, save for some that was reportedly stolen.

As with the Kontact gym in 2010, rent had not been paid for the Fight Factory facility and staff were owed backwages. Some had not been paid for two months, despite the fact that the gym was said to have made a profit of 280,000 Thai Bahts in November. Investors were reportedly still being asked for money as recently as this past month and Roche allegedly received 200,000 Thai Bahts from one investor only a few weeks before the gym’s closure.

While most sources spoke with on the condition of anonymity, Neil Kelliher, a member of the gym and former friend of Roche, has spoken openly about the controversy surrounding the gym’s closure. Kelliher, an Internet marketing specialist, had at one point worked in an unpaid capacity for Fight Factory and advised Roche and his business partner with strategies for online marketing. A Fight Factory website was planned, but never launched because Kelliher was told that there was no funding.

Kelliher states that he had paid Roche his membership fee for the next month of training just one day before Roche allegedly disappeared and left the gym in a state of disarray. Kelliher subsequently spoke with employees and other individuals associated with the gym to attempt to determine just how much money had been lost or taken. The 4.5 million Thai Baht estimation provided to Kelliher was the same as figures sent to by other sources within the gym.


Roche responded to a request for comment on Saturday and told that there was “no story to make” about the Fight Factory gym closure and that no money had been embezzled. He says that the gym was closed because it was not making money and that the cost of operations in Thailand is too high. Roche further states that those accusing him of theft of funds are doing so in an attempt to blackmail him as a result of the controversy surrounding the Fury 2 cancellation. It is understandable that people are upset about the gym closing, Roche says, but he maintains that it is not his fault.

In a later conversation with, Roche went into further detail about the circumstances surrounding the gym’s closure. According to Roche, an investor had contacted him about purchasing a 40% stake in the Fight Factory gym and had left a desposit while both parties discussed the terms of the deal. When it came time to sign the papers to finalise the purchase agreement, Roche says that the investor backpedalled and eventually withdrew from the planned deal entirely on November 29th.

With the sudden loss of a significant amount of funding, Roche says that there was no choice but to shut down the gym. He concedes that some gym members had indeed paid for their upcoming monthly dues just days prior to the gym’s collapse, but states that he had never anticipated that the gym would need to close and had believed that the investment deal would move forward as planned. Just as in 2010, Roche maintains that he, too, lost money as a result of Fight Factory’s closure and he denies taking any money from the facility or its staff and members.

At present, the once-vibrant Fight Factory gym has been stripped of its equipment and is now a barren building. Its former employees, most of whom are reportedly owed significant sums of money, are now forced to seek work elsewhere. Some have asked that Roche prove his innocence by using the money that was secured from investors to pay staff and suppliers at least part of what they are owed.

Update: Two additional sources alleged that Roche’s Fight Factory business partner, Dylan Tondella, may have been involved in the plan to embezzle funds from the gym and that he, too, has not been seen since before the establishment abruptly closed. Tondella denies these claims and says that he lost all of his financial investment in the gym when it ceased operations. He states that he has been home taking care of his daughter in preparation for the holiday season and that he is innocent of any wrongdoing at the gym.