Nitro Circus deems Auckland 'dangerous' after brawl
Sunday 3 Feb 2013 4:51 p.m.
Nitro Circus members say they no longer feel safe in central Auckland after five of their members were involved in two violent incidents there this week.
The stuntmen say they're considering leaving Auckland off their itinerary for future tours.
Kiwi stunt rider Luke Smith is tough. Last night he rode in the Nitro Circus with a broken jaw and a broken heel. Three years ago, he suffered head injuries in a crash and had to learn to walk and talk again. He only came back from that last weekend.
But the comeback almost ended before it began on Thursday night when he was bashed in what he says was an unprovoked attack on Auckland’s Fort St.
“It's been three years and I’ve come back from death's door and there's no way I’m going to let some low life take my dream away from me,” he says.
Smith says an earlier jaw injury was re-broken when he was walking to get a kebab and looked at the wrong man.
“He said ‘what are you looking at?’ or something like that, and I said ‘no, no these are my friends’ – these are the guys from America. And pretty much as I said that, one of his friends or someone he was with blindside punched me from the side.”
Hours later his teammates were involved in another altercation nearby. A witness told 3 News Nitro Circus members threw a bottle at a member of the public and hit him in the head with a push scooter.
The police then got involved and that man was pepper sprayed, handcuffed and then shoved to the ground.
But Nitro Circus promoter Mike Porra says his team was actually acting in self defence, and hitting the aggressor with a scooter was justified.
“Oh come on,” says Mr Porra. “Next time we'll use a fluffy toy if that's what you think they should do to save your life. We'll have the guys use a fluffy toy.”
Mr Porra says there's an increasing problem with violence in Auckland’s central city. The team had noticed it was much worse on this visit, and he's considering whether to leave Auckland off the schedule for future tours.
“These are some of the most courageous athletes in the world and they're scared to walk the streets of Auckland,” says Mr Porra.
He says something needs to be done before it's too late.
“They're thugs and they're dangerous and they're giving the city a bad name. They should be locked up because they'll kill someone.”
Smith is just relieved Thursday night was another close call he survived.