World-renowned director of the Muaythai Against Drugs Foundation, Capetonian Gary Trappler, has been arrested for possession of cocaine.
The foundation, which prides itself on helping youngsters get off drugs and into muaythai martial arts, has been rocked by Trappler’s arrest in Cape Town, and has threatened to fire him.
Trappler is also the vice-president of the International Federation of Muaythai (IFMA), the world governing body of amateur muaythai, and a well-known anti-drugs campaigner.
Police confirmed Trappler’s arrest by the Sea Point police on May 20. He appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court two days later, and was released on bail. The amount of bail could not be determined last night.
“He was charged for possession of drugs (cocaine),” police spokesman Captain Frederick van Wyk confirmed.
Three days later, according to Van Wyk, Trappler was also served with an interim protection order on May 23. The order was sought by his wife Lauren, and barred him from abusing her physically, emotionally or verbally.
It emerged that a “packet of cocaine” was found in Trappler’s car.
Trappler could not be reached for comment yesterday. He is apparently being treated for depression in a city hospital.
Trappler, along with Dragon Power fitness centre owners Quentin and Winston Chong, are directors of the Muaythai Against Drugs Foundation, which was started in 2007.
On Friday night Quentin Chong, a former two-time world muaythai champion who has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine and who is featured in a new documentary about a 14-year-old boy excelling in muaythai after being trained by the anti-drugs foundation, threatened to expel Trappler immediately.
“Gary hasn’t been reachable for the last month due to personal home issues. This is the first time we are hearing about possession of drugs. Unfortunately Gary is unavailable for us to hold an internal investigation as he is currently in hospital,” Chong said.
But he added that they had a zero tolerance approach to drugs.
“Anyone found guilty for drugs in our Muaythai Against Drugs Foundation organisation will be removed from their position with immediate effect. We need to set an example and continue to work towards our foundation slogan ‘Dreams come true many times’,” he said.
According to Chong, he decided to give Trappler a chance and train him for free after Trappler approached him during 2007, smelling of alcohol and “not in good shape”.
“He’d lost himself and got involved in drugs, but decided to clean himself up. He came to me to rehabilitate.”
By 2008, Trappler was in top shape, but soon afterwards started experiencing financial and personal problems, said Chong.
“This is the first time we hear about this, when you called. I’m devastated by this. This is jeopardising everything I’ve worked for, for over 13 years. It’s my sweat and blood,” he said.
“We’ve done a lot to help Gary, but now we will have a disciplinary hearing.”
The muaythai foundation and its youth development programme were featured on tv programme Top Billing in September last year.
When approached for comment, Top Billing presenter Aidan Bennetts, who is also a director of Muaythai Against Drugs, said it was a case of “innocent until proven guilty”.
“But if it is true, it is completely against the organisation’s ethos and morals. There is no place in the organisation for that, and (it) must be taken very seriously,” he said.
Bennetts added that he and the Chong brothers had worked hard training underprivileged children. He expressed concern that one incident could bring it all down.
The foundation counts the Amy Biehl Foundation as one of its partners in youth development. Amy Biehl foundation spokeswoman Michelle Bagley said yesterday they were not aware of the incident.
“If, however, he is guilty of these charges, we hope that the correct procedures will be followed and he will be expelled as director,” she said.
According to the IFMA website, Trappler has done martial arts since he was nine. His other interest is his law practice. He has an office in Cape Town, specialising in international commercial law and public law.
Trappler is also a director of companies, and managing director of his company, ChefTrapps Ltd, which is an international company specialising in the design and manufacture of slip-resistant safety shoes.
Trappler joined the IFMA board as an executive member in 2007, then became vice president in 2009, then chairman of its legal commission in 2010.
He is vice president of Muaythai Amateur and president of Muaythai Professional. - Weekend Argus