The Proud Boys were catapulted onto the world’s stage on Tuesday when President Donald Trump refused to condemn them in the presidential debate.
So, who are they and should the world be worried about them?
The Proud Boys were founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes. They described themselves then as a “politically incorrect men’s club for Western chauvinists”.
Current Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who is Afro-Cuban, says the group has “longstanding regulations prohibiting racist, white supremacist or violent activity”.
“We don’t care what colour you are or what your background is. If you love America, we consider you a brother.”
To them, “Western chauvinist” includes all races, religions, and sexual preferences.
Yet the Southern Poverty Law Centre, a left-wing legal advocacy organisation says, “Proud Boys are known for their anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.” The SPLC has designated the Proud Boys a hate group.
The group claims to condemn racism, fascism, communism and socialism and members have become increasingly visible as they confront opposing groups across the US in clashes that frequently turn violent.
Their unsavoury reputation was brought up in the presidential debate on Tuesday night.
When moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump whether he was willing to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, Trump asked him to name a specific group. Democrat rival Joe Biden jumped in to name the Proud Boys.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said.
Tarrio subsequently said the group do not consider Trump’s comment an endorsement.
On their website, the Proud Boys describe themselves as the world’s greatest fraternal organisation and declare: “I refuse to apologise for creating the modern world. The West is best.”
They claim to have chapters in Canada, Germany, the UK, Australia, China and Japan.