Photo: Mike Ehrmann (Getty)

Jay Farrant is the head coach of the Ireland Powerlifting Federation, as well as one of the owner of one of the country’s most prominent weightlifting gyms. He also has ideas about what the Nazi party didn’t stand for.

This all began with a post from PowerliftingWomen, a relatively popular Instagram page that has been rather vocal in its opposition to white supremacist views in the powerlifting community. Farrant responded to PowerliftingWomen’s post and asked them, “What is a Nazi?” The owners of the Instagram page clarified that they were being purposefully vague about a famous powerlifter who had Aryan tattoos (that lifter appears to be Brandon Allen). They tried to talk with Farrant about the spectrum of white power iconography, but Farrant had other ideas about “the true ideology behind National Socialism.”

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Farrant explained that the Nazis had “some brilliant ideas,” and also that racism is an inherently British ideology. When asked about the Holocaust, Farrant didn’t have time to discuss that.

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Farrant’s gym, A.B.S. Powerlifting, flies both the Confederate flag and the German empire’s WW1-era war flag. One former lifter told PowerliftingWomen that Farrant he called his lifting group the “Fourth Reich.” Farrant has claimed that A.B.S is the Ireland hub of SBD Apparel, one of the biggest weightlifting apparel companies in the world, though a rep for SBD told Deadspin that Farrant is simply a “retailer.” The rep said there is “no room within the company for any tolerance of fascism or racism,” and they will be conducting an investigation.

PowerliftingWomen got in touch with IPF vice president Rob Burke, who said that while Farrant “has some pretty eccentric views and believes some things that, frankly, I find hard to empathize with,” he was actually a good guy who trains people of all races and backgrounds (A.B.S. does tout their diversity.) When pressed, Burke admitted that Farrant has consumed “a lot of information about what happened in Germany from ‘33–‘45 from sources that I wouldn’t necessarily give much credence to.”

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PowerliftingWomen told Deadspin that people close to Farrant have vociferously defended him as a nice coach who is just “being provocative.” One lifter said, “He’s a prick, but he’s a good human being.” Burke and a few others attempted to explain Farrant’s beliefs as a product of a hard childhood followed up by service in Germany with the British army.

In general, the person running PowerliftingWomen said, the community has been supportive of their efforts to drive white supremacists out of the sport, though there is a highly vocal “20 percent” who’ve acutely resisted any attempts at policing the community, as well as a sect of people who will vigorously defend anyone they know personally. The person said they knew it would be like this: “When we posted a woman’s account of her coach drugging and raping her we were attacked on all sides and no one else in powerlifting stepped up to support her or us. So we expect it now.”

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I reached out to Farrant to ask him what he thought went down in Germany from 1933-1945. He replied with this:

Thanks for your email.

Firstly, I would like to make clear that I regret my lack of clarity in the Instagram exchange. I do not, and have never, supported fascism. My principal objection was to the idea that all individuals with Celtic crosses were fascist sympathisers. In Ireland, Celtic crosses do not convey support for fascism.

In retrospect, I should have made clear that I oppose the Nazis and their legacy in the strongest possible terms, as well as their contemporary sympathisers.

Unfortunately, claims about me that are without basis are now circulating around social media, including claims that I have Nazi tattoos and that I am a member of a hate group. I do not have, and have never had, Nazi tattoos or any involvement in hate groups. I have sought legal advice to establish what my options are here.

To address your questions directly:

The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews and others by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. I never discussed the Holocaust with the Instagram account, realising that our conversation had veered from the point I wanted to make. I have never denied that the Holocaust happened, nor attempted to diminish its extent.

Your second question is more open. Between 1935 and 1945 a fascist government, led by Adolf Hitler, systematically removed rights from Jews and other groups, stripping them of their citizenship and persecuting them in numerous other ways. as WW2 began in 1939 and was brought to a close in 1945. The Holocaust, as referred to above, occurred during this period.

I think the history of WW2 and the Holocaust is fairly well known and not disputed. There is far too much evidence to in any way dispute the clear historical facts about this.