November 9th, 2010, AT 7:45 PM/
IKF World Title Shot In Brisbane,
seems to be a lot of talk on a Kickboxing message board down under in Aussieland
about a false claim made here that former WKA World Cruiserweight
Kickboxing Champion Grant "THE BOMBER" Barker (Right)
never confirmed any plans for a comeback fight. Since this was in question, the
IKF felt it important to set the record
straight and report the facts to the story about Barker making his
triumphant return to the ring, to fight for an IKF
World Title. Let us set the record straight...
- On Wednesday, September 22, 2010 the IKF
was informed by Thunderlegs Promotions Australia Promoter Robert Wilesmith
that Hiriwa Te Rangi had requested to fight Grant Barker for the
vacant IKF International Rules Heavyweight
World Title in Invercargil, New Zealand on Saturday 27th November 2010.
- After more discussion, it was discovered that Te Rangi could not
make the Heavyweight class and Barker was too light to make Super
Heavyweight, so the fight was cancelled.
- On Saturday, October 23, 2010, the IKF
was informed by Wilesmith that he would like to promote a title fight
for Barker since was still interested in making a comback fight. At this
time the IKF started looking for possible
opponents and to help with this quest, a press release was posted on the
October news page.
which included factual quotes from Barker saying:
- "This is the most exciting time of my life to fight for the IKF
World Title!" says Barker. "I have fought some of the
best the world has seen, & now after been absent from the ring for a few
years, I am more hungry than ever. I am doing this for my beautiful children.
They are old enough now to see their Dad fight now, & right now I aim to
make them proud."
- To Clarify here, the ONLY reason the IKF
was even considering this title was because;
- The title was vacant and had been vacant for about 8 years.
- The rule style it was under is the least active rule style in kickboxing.
- The suggested contender for the title shot had a proven background and had
also held other titles, including a World Title from a legit sanctioning body.
- If "ANYONE"
questioned the opponents/contenders for this title, all they had to do was
contact the IKF and ask that "THEY"
or someone else be considered for it, find themselves a promoter and host the
- The reality here is, to have such an opportunity, a Promoter would be
needed, and although there are fighters in the rankings, and have been there for
"Years", the IKF, like
every other sanctioning body, cannot force a fighter to all of a sudden,
"Create" a promoter to host a Title Fight for them. Without a
promoter, a lot of these titles simply remain vacant and fighter's never get
their shot at a title they may deserve.
- The IKF DOES Apologize for stating
that "Grant Barker was the "Current" WKA World
Champion. This should have read that he "WAS" the "FORMER"
WKA World Champion. Grant won his WKA World Title when he
defeated Kash Gill.
- After the article was posted the IKF
begin the work of determining a qualified challenger for Barker. Several
opponents were discussed such as former IKF
Heavyweight World Champion Rick Roufus. However purse fees made such a
match not possible. Simply put, promoter's can only pay so much and when we are
talking about a vacant title, there is no mandatory purse minimum.
- On October 30, 2010 at 1:03
PM, Promoter Robert Wilesmith secured an opponent for Barker.
Mike Angove of New Zealand. Angove informed Wilesmith that
he was fighting Hiriwa Te Rangi for his New Zealand Super Heavyweight
Title on November 20th. (This fight ended up being cancelled due to Angove
received a cut to the head in training and the fight has been delayed to later
- NOTE: The IKF found a poster
for this fight which can be viewed HERE.
However it was not confirmed what actual
title the bout was for. Some made claim that it was for Te Rangi's WMC
Title. However since the WMC does not post rankings and very little, if
any event info about their sanctioned events (Results, upcoming etc.)
the IKF could not even confirm who held
ANY WMC World title. Regardless, someone is willing to allow Angove
to fight for their title after not fighting for 9 Years, so the decision they
made (WMC or ??) and the IKF were
pretty much the same. They too were simply "Looking" for an
opponent for a fight.
- On October 30, 2010, at 6:53:28 PM (About 7 hours after
Promoter Wilesmith confirmed Barker's opponent would be Mike Angove) Grant
Barker sent the following e-mail to Promoter Robert Wilesmith:
- Date: Sat, 30 Oct 2010 18:53:28
I have decided I
won't be taking the fight for the IKF World Heavy weight Kickboxing Title. I
appreciate your efforts on what you have done up to this present time. My reason
for this is that I cannot find the spark inside me to warrant the efforts of the
dedication that I need to win, my heart is not in it. I need to dedicate to my
business and my family life. I hope you understand my reasoning for my decision.
Regards Grant Barker.
- On October 31, 2010,
Grant Barker sent the following e-mail to the IKF:
- I have decided not to make a come back to
kickboxing, I have given 4 months notice before the proposed date of the event.
I have not signed a contract or even seen one. My desire to fight is not there
like it used to be. I am happy to dedicate myself to making the IKF a force in
Australia. I am also interested in promoting IKF in Sydney. Regards Grant
- Today, Tuesday, October 9th, 2010, Grant posted a message
on an Australian Kickboxing website that was a little misleading, as if he had
never wanted to fight a comeback fight. The truth is, he had confirmed he wanted
to, however, after thinking about it, choose not to. His post read:
- Hi guys this is the bomber here. All I can say is "Don't
believe the hype!" I am definately not fighting again, I am happily retired
and that is where I am going to stay. Stuff like this happens all the time and I
do still get offered fights. I love the sport, I loved my time in the sport but
being in the ring is not for me anymore. I have a very busy Pt business that I
run from Broadway gym, I train a few fighters, train myself like a machine
(still!!) and run around around after all my kids. Life's good guys, stay fit!
- So to confirm:
- Yes, Grant Barker had accepted this fight.
- Yes this fight was going to be for an IKF World Title.
- Yes, the match-up was set to be Grant Barker VS Mike Angove.
- Yes, Grant made a decision to not make a comeback fight.
- The article posted on the October
news page was not a "Stunt" to get ticket sales. To
refer to a post on the mentioned message board, the Promoter DID NOT "take
people for idiots such as in this case and pump up their own tires with total
and utter rubbish to try and sell tickets." What was posted was 100%
True at the time of the posting.
- As for this quote by Australian Promoter Robert Wilesmith:
- "This is a first for Brisbane Queensland Australia. Nobody
has ever fought for a legitimate World Kickboxing Title here in Brisbane at a
Professional level. The general public want to see the BIG GUYS fight, &
THUNDERLEGS PROMOTIONS AUSTRALIA are bringing it to Brisbane Australia,"
All the IKF can add here is that his
claim was that it was to be the first "International Rules" World
Title maybe, or he could have possibly been referring to titles fought for
smaller, less recognized sanctioning bodies, however, the IKF cannot confirm anything at this time in regards
to the quote.
- To add, YES, the IKF was indeed
skeptical about allowing such a fight. However, the truth is, "The
individuals involved wanted to make it happen, and the IKF
approved it based on the above details."
- What is funny is that on the Australian message board noted above, some
posting comments wanted to make fun of such a title. One of them is the owner of
an "Australian - New Zealand ONLY" Sanctioning body, the WKBF,
named Lucy Tui. Many Australian fighters, have stated that having a WKBF
title is no top title, but claiming such a title may look good on their resume.
If the title in question was a WKBF World title, probably no one would
have questioned who fought for it. However, this was an IKF World Title which holds credibility worldwide,
not just in the world of the South Pacific.
- So why did the IKF confirm such a title? Simply due to a combined
inactivity of the Heavyweight weight class and the rule style the title was to
be fought under. The proven background of those wanting to fight for it made
such an opportunity possible for those involved.
ALL THAT BEING
injured and awaiting a rematch date, Hiriwa Te Rangi does still want to
fight for the IKF World Title under
International Rules in the Super Heavyweight division. However, the question now
is, "WHO" would he fight? Well there is a challenger who wants
to fight him for the title who has stepped forward... Promoter Robert
Yes, this may sound like an odd idea, but the reality is, NO
ONE has ever held the IKF Pro Super
Heavyweight World Title, EVER! So rather than let the title sit vacant
for another 18 years, the IKF will allow
the match-up. This title has never been held, and has no call from promoters to
attain a Champion for it because all
of the top 5 fighters in the International Rules Super Heavyweight Rankings
have no desire to fight for an "International" rules title.
All are either doing K-1 or Muay Thai...
Wilesmith's Amateur record started back in March
1991 till 1993, under Kru Greg Hinton. Hinton promoted Muay Thai
shows in small venues such as nightclubs & in Albert Hall, then progressed
to Belconnon Club Canberra ACT. Robert fought for the WKA back then and
attained an amateur record of 15-0 with 14 wins coming by KO/TKO.
turned Pro at the end of 1993, fighting in Canberra ACT, up in North Qld,
Darwin, New Zealand (Hamilton, Christchurch) & in Thailand (Koh
Somui) 1998. He never fought in his home State of NSW due to he wasn't
allowed to fight Muay Thai rules. His Pro record was 11 Wins with no loses with
9 wins coming by KO/TKO. There was 1 No contest due to a head clash in first
During his Pro career he won the NSW State Title & Australian
Titles. He was scheduled to fight Steve Jez for the ISKA World
Title back in 1997, but he pulled out of the bout 2 days before the show due to
a head cold. Wilesmith was never given the title, his purse or offered another
Robert has kept active since his last pro fight as the
head instructor of Thunderlegs Gym in Australia, sparring with many of the World
Champions he trained over the years. Adding to this, over the last 15 years he
has sparred and trained with the likes of Benny "The Jet"
Urquidez, "Sugarfoot" Pete Cunningham, Maurice Smith, Grant Barker,
Hiriwa TeRangi, Ali Hallak, John Hallford, "Mighty" Mark May, Shane
Meads just to name a few. In Thailand, he fought & beat Krongshak
Lek (Full Thai Rules at Lamai Beach Koh Sumui Thailand).
"After all that I've endured, I have a fire inside me
that needs to be put out. This fight for the IKF Pro International Rules World
Super Heavyweight Title would help put out that fire." says Robert.
As a "Kru" Master at MuayThai he trains everyday with not just
fighters but also with first class professional athletes & footballers (With
the Brisbane Lions AFL).
Some may question Robert's qualifications for this
title, but you can't question his heart. This is a title he wants and wants bad.
He's hungry and would love the opportunity to shut up all the critics out there
and let his shins & power do his talking. No more words, just Aussie Action!
With that kind of desire, who could say "NO?"
BUT WAIT.... THERE'S MORE
ALL THAT BEING SAID...
It seems Hiriwa Te Rangi started to question
whether or not he wanted to fight Wilesmith. As the weeks went by, now
Te Rangi was looking doubtful. Then, as if this bout was just not meant
to be, Mother Nature stepped in and took a hit on Brisbane, Queensland
Australia. Heavy rains followed with heavy flooding devastated the city and in
the end, Wilesmith and the IKF had
to throw in the towel.
However, Wilesmith still wanted his shot, so after the
flood waters cleared, Wilesmith and the IKF
came back to the fight. However this time, the IKF
demanded he fight a "CURRENT" Champion. On February 7th, 2011,
it was agreed the challenger would be current IKF
Full Contact Rules World Champion Mike Sheppard. Sheppard was not just a
FCR Fighter. He has excelled in international rules as well and jumped at the
chance to add the IKF IR World Title to
his trophy case.
So the stage had been set...
Mike Sheppard of
Glenville, West Virginia, USA (20-5-1/15, Pro Team: 2-1/2 Pro MMA: 2-1, Pro
Boxing: 15-11-1/8, ABX: 42-3/31) was to come face to face with Robert
Wilesmith of Brisbane, Queensland Australia (15-0/14) in what many
were calling the "Mystery Match". A Mystery because no one
really knows what to expect from Wilesmith.
One thing is for sure, if desire is worth anything or even
persistence, Wilesmith wins an award for them both as he has done all he
can to bring an IKF World title to
Australia. We all wanted to see what kind of mystery he brings to the ring on
April 30th, 2011... However.... The event ended up being cancelled... Due to the
massive floods that hit Brisbane,
CLICK HERE... Wilesmith lost his lead sponsor, so
again the fight was off...
Move forward now several months and one will see Wilesmith's
preseverence... After weeks and months of work, Wilesmith finally secured a
venue. Simply put, "Robert WANTED this FIGHT!"
So now... With all that being said, we are back on again, so
Bring It ON!"
2012, Skilled Park Stadium Robina (Gold Coast) Queensland, Australia!
Pro International Rules Heavyweight World Title
Glenville, West Virginia,
CURRENT IKF FCR WORLD
KB: 20-5-1/15, Pro Team: 2-1/2
2-1, Pro Boxing: 20-12-1/9, ABX: 42-3/31