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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 March 2006, 15:30 GMT
Lonsdale faces ban on 'Nazi link'
Lonsdale was founded in the 1960s
Europe's largest mail-order company is reportedly threatening to ban British sportswear firm Lonsdale because of the brand's popularity with neo-Nazis.

Germany's Quelle told a UK newspaper it wished to distance itself from "all tendencies associated with extremism".

In the UK, Lonsdale is known for its boxing links. But on the continent, its clothes are worn by the extreme-right.

No-one from Lonsdale owner SWI Group was available for comment on Wednesday.

Similar initials

Quelle's managing director Michel Badke said the company wanted "to counter any suggestion we are supporting right-wing extremists through the sale of these goods", London's Independent newspaper has reported.

The firm added that it would decide whether to start a possible ban within the next few days.

In Germany and elsewhere in continental Europe, right-wing extremists are regularly pictured wearing Lonsdale clothing.

Anti-racism campaigners argue that one reason for the firm's popularity in neo-Nazi circles is due to four letters contained in the Lonsdale name - NSDA - being one letter short of NSDAP, the German initials of Adolf Hitler's National Socialist Workers' Party or National Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei.

Historic name

Lonsdale has in the past sought to improve its image in Europe by sponsoring gay rights and immigrant groups.

The company was founded in London in the 1960s, initially producing boxing equipment before expanding into sports and fashion clothing.

It took its name from Lord Lonsdale, who organised boxing matches at the start of the 20th Century and was president of the National Sporting Club of Britain.

Lord Lonsdale gave his name to the famous Lonsdale belts, given to champion boxers who successfully defended their title three times.

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