Heavyweight boxing

French boxer who battled riot police receives €114,000 in donations – but it stops there

  • The former light heavyweight French title holder is still in police custody for attacking police during ‘yellow vest’ demonstrations
  • Money raised from crowd funding will be used for legal fees, says Leetchi website
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2019, 5:53pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2019, 11:34pm

Former French boxing champion Christophe Dettinger, who was filmed clashing with riot police over the weekend, has received more than €114,000 (HK$1.02 million) in donations from people eager to help him and his family.

But the crowd funding page from the Leetchi website has been closed by officials outraged that the donations were tantamount to “legitimising anti-police violence”.

Dettinger turned himself in to authorities a day after videos of him raining down punches on police in Paris during the “yellow vests” anti-government demonstrations in the French capital became viral. The 37-year-old Dettinger was France’s light heavyweight champion in 2007 and 2008. He remains in police custody.

Dettinger appeared in a video posted from his Facebook page before he was taken into custody.

“I am a French citizen, I love my country, I love my homeland,” he said in the video.

“I was gassed with my friend, my wife, and at some point I was taken over by anger, so yes I acted badly. I acted badly, but I defended myself,” Dettinger added.

Supporters of Dettinger, some of them opposition politicians of French president Emannuel Macron, have left messages of support for the boxer nicknamed the “Gypsy of Massy”.

French boxer hailed as a hero after raining punches on riot police during violent Paris clashes

Around 8,000 people made pledges on his crowd funding page, which was set up to help Dettinger and his family, before it was pulled. The website said the money raised would be used to pay for his legal fees and any money left over would be returned to donors.

Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa told France Info radio the fundraiser was “illegal” because “it backs a criminal act, that is to say, gratuitous violence.”

Leetchi initially defended hosting Dettinger’s crowd funding page, saying they were required to remain “neutral” but then announced on Tuesday that they had closed the fund in light of the amount raised after 7,801 pledges were made.

“Christophe and his family are sincerely touched by your generosity ... and as he says, ‘the fight continues!’” Leetchi had read on its site.

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But the site later released a statement explaining why they shut down the fund.

“Our general terms and conditions of use prohibit any incitement to hatred or violence. In view of the acts alleged against Christophe Dettinger, no other use of the purse can be accepted.”

It is not clear whether French authorities had forced Leetchi to close the fund after prominent ministers in Macron’s government expressed outrage.

“Apparently, hitting a police officer pays off,” tweeted Mounir Mahjoubi, the secretary of state for digital affairs. “Everyone must assume their responsibilities: this fund is shameful,” he added.

A parallel fund was launched to support injured police officers. The president of the southern Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur (Paca) region, Renaud Muselier, also took issue with the campaign for Dettinger and on Tuesday launched a rival crowd funding appeal.

His page said it aimed to raise money to benefit the “1,050 law enforcement officers wounded” during yellow vests protests over the last nine weeks.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press