Bankrupt property tycoon Terry Serepisos had to be carried out of the Trentham Racecourse after tussling with another race-goer over comments about his lost fortune.
Serepisos, the former Wellington Phoenix football team owner who was declared bankrupt in 2011, fought with a man in a green silk shirt during the Wellington Cup meeting yesterday as people yelled abuse from a walkway above while several of Serepisos' female companions screamed and swore at the man.
A security guard eventually separated the pair. Serepisos appeared disoriented after the fight and had to be supported by friends as he left.
Jim Flack, of Masterton, saw Serepisos on the ground surrounded by an "entourage" of women. "Someone had thumped him. He was looking really groggy and a bit dishevelled - tie askew, you know, not looking dapper at all."
It is understood the conflict started after Serepisos passed a woman seeking donations for Mary Potter Hospice. A man commented the woman should "know he [Serepisos] doesn't have any money" and Serepisos took offence. Each man claimed the other started the fight.
Serepisos said that after telling the man that his comments "weren't on", the man and four others jumped him, kicking him repeatedly in the head while he was on the ground. "I got kicked in the head by five guys. It was pretty bad, pretty horrendous."
The man, who had a swollen nose after the fight, said that after he made the comment, Serepisos "nutted off" and punched him in the face. He retaliated by tackling him and "finishing him off"'. "It wasn't one of my best moments but I'm not going to back down if someone punches me, " he said.
Serepisos denied punching the man but found the comments offensive because he had just donated hundreds of dollars to the hospice.
Upper Hutt area commander Inspector Mike Hall said police were not looking to charge anyone at this stage.
- The Dominion Post