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Rumored fight-club resurgence revealed as a high-tech hoax

Announcement on Web site called work of a hacker

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PROVO — The rumored resurgence of Provo's Fight Club has turned out to be a high-tech hoax.

A bold announcement on the club's Web site hailing the return of Utah County's secret slugfests was the work of a hacker, said Todd Bushman, one of the club's founding members.

Bushman said claims on the homepage — and news reports based on the Web site's fighting words — took club members by surprise.

The Utah Valley State College and Brigham Young University students erased the the erroneous statements on the site after hearing the news stories and receiving several e-mail messages asking about the club's reported rebirth, he said.

A clarification was posted on the site Monday by the BYU and Utah Valley State College students who sold fight footage to "Extra" but turned away "20/20" for concerns of smearing the reputation of BYU and its owners, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"We apologize for the misunderstanding," the site says. "Apparently, some hackers got into our site and thought it would be a good idea to tease the public with the idea that Fight Club would start up again. Fight Club is over, people."

Bushman emphasized the club is indeed down for the count.

In May, organizers stood in front of news crews and announced the end to Utah County's brand of underground pugilism.

That's one reason why some questioned the validity of the posting on the site last week.

The pranksters had written: "Did you hear! Fight club is back! I can't believe it! Fight Clubs are popping up all over Utah Valley . . . like wildfire I tell you. More underground than ever, Fight Club is back in action with style."

According to the fake posting, the locales of the toe-to-toe battles would be disclosed in code on the Internet site, found at www.provofightclub.homepage.com.

The site also said that three fighters would make appearances on "The Late Show with David Letterman."

Bushman, who has been interviewed by TV and radio reporters from stations across the country, is amazed at the stir the club caused. He never thought it would attract such attention.

Even politicians entered the fray against the consensual battles. Provo officials adopted laws prohibiting unapproved fights within the city. If caught fighting without the permission of the mayor, brawlers at Fight Club-like events could be cited for class B misdemeanors.

E-mail: jeffh@desnews.com