Doncaster wrestling boss at centre of fraud allegations says he 'nearly lost life' as he hits back
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Steven Gauntley, who ran Doncaster-based 1PW up until its recent collapse, is being chased by upset wrestlers and fans of the sport after the plug was pulled on an upcoming show at The Dome, leaving a number of people out of pocket.
But in a long statement, Mr Gauntley has denied the accusations against him, describing them as “absolutely ridiculous” and he said the stress of running the company had ‘nearly’ cost him his life as well as his car and house because of a “smear campaign” against him.
He says that customers will receive refunds and said that while he admitted to making mistakes and poor decisions, he had been the victim of an “internet pack” fuelled by “gossip, trial by Twitter, and malicious rumours.”
The Know Your Enemy event was due to take place at The Dome on October 28, but bosses at the venue suspended ticket sales as allegations against Mr Gauntley began to emerge.
In an angry message on X, formerly Twitter, US wrestler Matt Cardona said: “This 1PW show isn’t happening and the promoter, Steven Gauntley, didn’t have the balls to tell me himself or respond to my messages.
“I should have learned my lesson after I had to tweet to get paid my deposit for the last show.
“Sorry to the UK fans who were planning on seeing me.”
Mr Gauntley has now fired back against his critics, saying he has been battling health issues and that he had been “vilified, blamed, betrayed, and had the truth manipulated to suit the narrative.”
Mr Gauntley’s statement in full reads:
“Despite what internet speculation may lead you to believe, I have not disappeared, nor have I run off to some sunny destination with a mountain of ill-gotten gains.
“If you truly know me, you know that the accusation that I would embezzle and defraud my own company, my life's work, is absolutely ridiculous.
“Since June, I have been battling health issues, which, due to the stress and pressure of the last two months, have nearly cost me my life.
“When my former business partner left in July, I was given the option to liquidate the company then, but I stayed on and battled forward, to the extreme detriment of my own health, to try to redress the company's creditors and to do the right thing for the fans.
“The day my health forced me to quit, the company was in a more positive position than it had been a few months before, despite an obvious smear campaign against me.
“Am I saying I didn't make mistakes? No. Am I saying I haven't made poor decisions in desperation? No. Did I defraud, manipulate, and embezzle? Absolutely not!
“Less than 48 hours ago, I nearly lost my life, and that is on top of losing dozens of thousands of pounds of my money, my car, and my house. I have genuinely sacrificed everything for this company that I loved.
“People who hide behind "be kind" have revelled in gossip, trial by Twitter, and malicious rumours. Talent who disingenuously used to praise me, some going as far as to tell me, "I love you!" have never even dignified me with a conversation.
“People who pretended to be my friend and now play for internet pack mentality virtue points heard a rumour and decided I was the devil without even asking me for my perspective.
“I brought back this company in honour of my father's memory, and it was my dream and life's work.
“Since July, I have been vilified, blamed, betrayed, and had the truth manipulated to suit the narrative that no one else made mistakes and that this company failed because I am evil, and that others are merely innocent, have acted with impunity, and are without reproach.
“Because I loathe confrontation, I have deliberately kept my counsel on the matter, but the time has come to let the truth be told.
“I am working with professional insolvency specialists to liquidate 1PW LTD, and also with an accountant and solicitor.
“When I get the all-clear, I am going to release publicly every bank account statement connected to the company.
“The financial history of the company is very complex, and if you look at a snapshot or even just one account without context, and without the bigger picture, and you do so with a preconceived narrative that you want to believe, then you can make me look like a bad person.
“I will release EVERYTHING, including a summary of all the money that I invested in this company (including over £17,000 in USD that I took from my own bank and paid directly to performers last October), and a large transfer to my personal account to again cash for USD in February (for which I have WhatsApp screenshots and statements), and I will also summarise what I paid myself back from these vast directors' loans.
“You'll also see what anyone else connected to the company previously invested in the company and what they took out of the company.
“After being made a scapegoat, having been doxxed and had my address and phone number shared online, and having had several death threats, and having suffered massively with my own health, and having lost the company I loved, I genuinely have nothing to lose now, and I firmly believe the truth shall set me free.
“Have I made mistakes? Yes, absolutely... huge mistakes. The biggest mistake I ever made was trusting people who betrayed me.
“I want to conclude by offering my sincere apology to the 1PW fans. If I could have continued, I would have. I thought I would have given my life for this company, but in the end, I am sorry, but I could not let that happen.
“I feel genuinely awful for any affected customers, but rest assured, I am working with professional advice to ensure that customers are able to obtain refunds.
“Today, I have worked with our payment provider, Stripe, to authorise over £6000 of customer refunds.
“I will make further statements on this matter in the coming weeks. Thanks for reading.”
A spokesperson for Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust, which operates The Dome, said: “We are looking into the issues raised around the 1PW event so have decided to pause ticket sales for the time being. We will provide an update to customers as soon as we have more information.”
One angry fan said: “I bought two tickets for Know Your Enemy direct from 1PW back in March for £167 in total.
"I've raised a claim with my bank and have reported Gauntley to Action Fraud.
"I don't whether I will get my money back.”
Another who is chasing cash from 1PW said: "I got Steven’s phone number and email so I messaged and emailed him.
"He never got back so I phoned him and the first time I phoned him it went to voice mail after about three minutes.
"I decided to phone him again a couple of hours later and I was instantly directed to a bot that said the phone number no longer existed.”
Another pair say they are owed £450 by 1PW and when they tried to contact Mr Gauntley to ask for a refund, say they were blocked by him.
In another message, wrestler Matt Cardona wrote: “1ProWrestling is a joke and their promoter Steven Gauntley is (in my opinion) a ball-less coward carny.”
Meanwhile, female fighter De Lander posted: “Unfortunately myself and Matt won’t be coming back to the UK next month because the show got cancelled? News to me lol.”