Ex-MP Tony Halme dies at home in Helsinki
Former wrestler won sensational populist victory in 2003 election
Former Member of Parliament Tony Halme (True Finns) was found dead at his home in the early hours of Sunday.
Halme, who worked as a professional boxer and wrestler in the United States under the pseudonym Ludvig Borga, later gained fame in Finland on the Finnish version of the Gladiators TV franchise under the name Viikinki (“Viking”).
Halme skyrocketed into Parliament in the 2003 elections.
Running in the Helsinki electoral district, he won 16,390 votes, which was the fifth largest personal vote tally in all of Finland in that year. In Helsinki, only Paavo Lipponen (SDP) took more votes, and Lipponen was the sitting Prime Minister in the run-up to the elections.
Halme won big among disaffected voters in the east and northeast of Helsinki with his populist anti-immigrant message, and his calls to stop “coddling criminals and lazy swindlers”.
Party leader Timo Soini welcomed Halme as a candidate, and was pleased with his landslide victory. He says that he still has no regrets.
Halme’s troubles began the following summer.
During a row with his wife in July 2003, a gun was discharged. Emergency services were called, and Halme was rushed to hospital in a coma - the result of taking a combination of prescription medicines and recreational drugs.
Adding to his prior criminal record, Halme got a fine and a suspended prison sentence for firearms violations and drug use.
Halme’s actual actions in Parliament were largely limited to the occasional politically incorrect comment that brought the expected negative reaction, but they became less frequent with his increasing sick leaves from Parliament.
“I don’t want to dwell on that. For me he was a friend, and a key factor in raising the party”, Soini says.
In the municipal elections of 2004, Halme became the first member of the True Finns party to get into the Helsinki City Council. However, the great populist surge was over, and although he got a seat, the number of votes that he received was a disappointment to his party.
Things did not go very well in his private life, either. In 2006 Halme took a long-term sick leave, and finally applied for disability pension. He did not run for re-election to Parliament in 2007.
In 2008 he resigned from the Helsinki City Council due to illness. At the time of his death, he faced charges of driving while under the influence of illegal drugs, following an incident in October 2009.
Police believe that no crime was involved in Tony Halme’s death, but initially gave no details of the time or manner of Halme's demise.
The late-edition tabloid Ilta-Sanomat has subsequently reported that Halme took his own life. The paper writes that a pistol, for which he did not have a firearms permit, was found next to his body.
Previously in HS International Edition:
MP Tony Halme´s sentence and fines remain unchanged after Appeals Court hearing (13.4.2005)
Four-month suspended sentence for MP Tony Halme (30.1.2004)
Tony Halme resumes Parliamentary work (10.9.2003)
Tabloid suspends journalist over Halme story; caller ID reveals sham phone call (15.8.2003)
Tony Halme´s success in Finnish parliamentary elections came as no surprise to some (25.3.2003)
Tony Halme as “Ludvig Borga” on WR Wrestling programme (YouTube)