They started as a joke, are named after a song from Aladdin, abstain from masturbation and have been at the centre of white supremacy in the US since 2016.
And on Tuesday night, president Donald Trump, rather than condemning them, told the far-right group the Proud Boys, to “stand back and stand by” as racially-charged violence continues to rage across the country he hopes to lead for another four years.
He was responding to a question during the presidential debate from moderator Chris Wallace, who asked if he would condemn white supremacist and militia groups that have showed up at some protests.
Instead, Trump branded the unrest a “left-wing” problem and blamed “antifa” which stands for the anti-fascist movement.
“I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace,” Trump said. “What do you want to call them? Give me a name.”
“Proud Boys,” his Democratic rival Joe Biden chimed in.
So who are the Proud Boys? Let’s start at the beginning...
When were they founded?
The Proud Boys were founded in 2016 – initially as a joke – and were named after the song “Proud of Your Boy” from Disney’s Aladdin musical.
The group was the idea of Gavin McInnes, the controversial co-founder of Vice Media who after leaving the company, became an outspoken figure on the far-right.
What do they believe?
Introducing the Proud Boys in September 2016, McInnes outlined his ideology as “Western chauvinism”, the idea that men and Western culture are under siege from the liberal left.
He wrote: “The basic tenet of the group is that they are Western chauvinists who refuse to apologise for creating the modern world.
“Like Archie Bunker, they long for the days when girls were girls and men were men.
“This wasn’t controversial even twenty years ago, but being proud of Western culture today is like being a crippled, black, lesbian communist in 1953.”
Is this still what they believe?
McInnes tried to distance himself and his group from the wider alt-right...