Norman Parke bites back

It’s one thing to bite the hand that feeds you, but, on Saturday night (May 27) in Poland, Norman Parke suffered the indignity of fighting a man he believes felt no way about biting the hand that tried to choke him.

Picture the scene: the alleged perpetrator, Mateusz Gamrot, was narrowly ahead in their KSW lightweight title fight and Parke, the challenger, was looking to make something happen against the fence. After sprawling a takedown attempt, he cupped the champion’s chin and targeted his neck. Gamrot, however, sensed this and, according to Parke, took it upon himself to stop the process by any means necessary.

“He’s saying I put my fingers in his mouth to fish hook him,” explains Parke, “but the fingers you’d use to fish hook in MMA, if you were going to do it, would be the index finger and the middle finger. They are your strongest fingers. It was my wedding ring finger he bit.

“He said I put it in his mouth and wiggled it about. He said he never knew what he was doing. But he knows. Watch his reaction when he bites me and I tell the referee he has bitten me. He transitions to my back, he never lets off straight away. The referee wasn’t going to do anything. I had to tell him to look and defend punches at the same time. The referee then calls time and I show him the mark. Clear as day, there was a purple mark on my finger. Gamrot is just standing there with a look on his face that says, ‘What? What do I do?’ He never said anything about fish hooking or anything like that. He knew what he had done. I could see it in his eyes. The ref, though, didn’t have a clue what had happened.

“The way they showed it on the big screen afterwards wasn’t ideal, either. They only show where he bites the hand. They don’t show the moment he shoots for a takedown and I sprawl and we’re there for about ten seconds and I’m cupping his chin to try and lift the neck up to go for a choke. That’s what I was doing. I was trying to work for a guillotine or a d’arce choke. But he was defending it. He knows 100% what he did and why he did it.”

The fight continued, in spite of Parke’s fury, and Gamrot eventually retained his lightweight title to the tune of three scores of 29-28 on the judges’ scorecards. Close enough to warrant a rematch on competitive grounds, Parke, 30, is determined to pursue it on grounds he was bitten in round two.

“I talked to Gamrot after the fight and he didn’t know what to say or where to look,” recalls Parke. “I said we should have a rematch and he said, ‘No, no, no. Me not fight for six months. I’m not fighting until the end of the year.’

“He thought he was going to go out there and wrestle me and bully me. He realised that after one round I was strong on top. He knew he needed to do something to get an edge.

“It could have gone to a fourth round, but he wouldn’t have wanted that. He knew I was coming on strong in that third round. He was just on his bike, walking back. Every time he shot (for a takedown) it was just a straight single-leg. He hung on to the leg and I flattened on top of him. He just wanted to disengage and then get stood back up. I felt he knew he wanted to kind of coast it out.”

Parke’s belief that his post-fight protest is unlikely to bear fruit is simmered by the outpouring he has received from many of the Polish fans who watched his fight and felt similarly aggrieved.

“I’m not not too sure anything is going to come of it, to be honest,” admits Parke, 23-6-1. “He’s saying one thing, I’m saying one thing. You can never come to a conclusion really. But he knows what he did. He said to himself, ‘Oh well, if you’ve got to cheat sometimes, do it.’ I can see the chap’s point, but it’s not good.

“If KSW compensate me with a rematch when they come to England or Ireland, I don’t give two f***s. Let the boy stay undefeated. So long as I get a rematch, that’s not a problem.

“The good thing is, there has been a lot of media coverage. I’ve got a load of Polish fans now. I’ve got so many messages since the fight on my fan page and my personal page. I couldn’t believe it. I had more messages from the people of Poland than I did from people here. They were all saying they thought I won the fight. We were counting the messages the other night and there must have been about a hundred. They were all calling me the new Polish champion. It was great.”