SUNDAY, January 19th, 2003 10:30 PM, PST

Is Japan Setting The Standards Of Our Sport?
It's Impressive What Money Can Do... Lots of IT!

If you won a Billion dollars today, what would you do with it? Would you keep it all for yourself or would you create something great so that you can share it with others? Imagine what you could do, what would you change in the world? Better yet, "Who would you become in the process... would the money change you?" Would it make you a better person, a powerful person or would you turn the other way and would it make you an evil person? All that money, scary to think about, but fun to dream isn't it...

Japan: When it first started, people asked "K what?" However within 5 years, Kazuyoshi Ishii took his dream of the ultimate fighting sport, the promotion of K-1, and made it the "Big Giant of Kickboxing! He grabbed the interest of everyone in the sport with it's big money purses, worldwide exposure and Grand Prix Finals crowds of 70,000 plus. Simply put, Ishii and K-1 were "IT!"

Before long, nearly every pro heavyweight in the sport was trying to get selected to participate on a K-1 event. So much that it was hard for a lot of promoters to even match heavyweights on their promotions due to exclusive K-1 fighting contracts. The purse money K-1 offered far outweighed the purses most promoters could offer. Was this bad for the sport? Of course not. Who wouldn't be in favor of fighters making better purse money? No one! But was it the answer every kickboxer wanted? Well, despite the great purses K-1 had to offer there were and still are limits.

It seemed the company was surly the answer to the sports future, well at least for the heavyweights (With the recent addition of middleweights last year) and those who were already leg kick style fighters. For them, it was the answer they all had waited for. Big Money and Big Exposure! But money entices people to do things they may not have done under different circumstances. With the potential of the K-1 money, it was no different for the full contact (Above the waist style rules) fighters who felt they needed to make the switch to K-1 - leg kick and knee strike style bouts if they wanted to make the big money. Some were able to make the switch successfully while for others, the quest for the big money not only caused them great injury to their legs, but for some those injuries ended their careers.

If your involved in kickboxing, you know what the letters K-1 stand for. It's provided impressive excitement and fast paced entertainment with it's 1 evening, 8 man tournament style format and big dollar productions. So much that many use the K-1 style rules in their own promotions. (A mix of muaythai without elbows or knees to the head, with the addition of International rules, with kicks to the legs) Yes, K-1 had arrived!

However, this last December, some negative news came from the great giant of K-1. We can't think of one person who wasn't shocked when the story broke about K-1 Boss Ishii and his tax problems (Confirmed today by a press release shown below). When the story came out, more and more rumors started to fly and fingers started to point. K-1 looked in question and since the Ishii story, we've received several e-mails with additional info surrounding the story and K-1's future. However, we remain supportive of K-1 in hopes these negative rumors are simply that, rumors. Some said the news was the end of K-1 while others simply said it was a small setback. For the sake of the sport and all that money the fighters were making, lets hope it's just a setback.

K-1 USA seems to be on schedule with no plans of cancelling the event as many have questioned so if you had planned to be there, we hope to see you there in May. No matter what we think or want to believe, only time will determine what the future has in store for all the K-1 events around the world. Although several names have been noted, the truth is it's still unsure who will take over K-1 now that Ishii has stepped down. "WHAT" will happen to K-1 seems to be the bigger question, that is, in regards to it's future plans which will come direct from it's headquarters in Japan. Lets just hope the excitement and the entertainment continues and those in Japan don't choose to promote something else instead...

Or have they already?

WRESTLE-1 is a new pro wrestling association in Japan. They recently held a show at the Tokyo Dome. The show was labeled as "Battle Entertainment of Bob Sapp." Sources tell us that Sapp is the mastermind along with Mutoh behind these shows, with PRIDE & K-1 (Yes...K-1) having vested interests. K-1... Please, tell us it isn't so!!!

So what did fans see at this show? They saw 2, K-1 stars going at it... Bob Sapp came out to Madonna's "Holiday" song and danced to the ring. Sapp then grabbed the microphone and said toErnesto Hoost at ringside, "Hi, Mr. Perfect Loser!" to which Hoost responded, "Bob, boy, I am Mr. Perfect... the Perfect Beast!" and this set up Sapp vs Hoost in the main event. Hoost defeated Sapp in 5 minutes, 15 seconds with what was described as a school-boy roll-up in a fight that featured trash-talking and chair shots (See Right).

As described by sources;
The match featured low-grade offense, including Sapp trying to use an STF (Hoost gave him one, instead) and Hoost trying some flying moves. They did an angle in which Vos, who's gym that Hoost trains at (and is a 50-year old man), did a run-in and Sapp tried to attack him and Hoost ended up blasting Sapp with a chair and school-boying Sapp for the finish. Just said to be an absolute mess that tried to promote the strength of K-1 but came off as goofy. The funniest thing from the fight is that Hoost attempted a cobra twist and said that his "sensei" Vos taught him how to do it. Although they claimed 40,000 paid, this was far from the truth. Simply put, it was no K-1 Grand Prix!

See more pictures by clicking HERE!

So what will happen if K-1 turns to pro wrestling? Could such a thing happen? If so, who will take over the "Tournament Style Events?" Well, look around, many are already trying to duplicate Ishii's invention of K-1 already. Here in North America, in Europe, you name it, there are plenty who want the lifestyle Ishii lived for years. To be looked upon as many did him, with the awe as well as the respect he earned. Not to mention the gate money a "K-1 Tournament Style" event hopes to bring in. To the heavyweights and their trainers, Ishii was the most powerful man in the sport and some of these new tournament style promoters want to be respected by their peers as he was. But will they?

Ishii was and still is a great man, but it wasn't his smile that earned his power within the sport. It wasn't even the idea of a Tournament Style event. The simple truth is, it was the endless supply of money he was able to offer. So many ask, "Without the money, what does a tournament event offer?" Answer, A lot of work for very little return... None of these other events have the exposure power K-1 can offer. Many of these events will happen and only a small portion of people will know about the results, so count out that great "Exposure" aspect. Does fighting 3 times in one day sound like something a Pro fighter should be doing in our sport? Tournaments are best for Amateurs, but for Pro kickboxers? We don't see Pro boxers doing tournaments...

Without the big K-1 money, is it worth it? A $300 - $500 show up purse and if you become the "1" of the "8" fighters that win it, how much will you win? A $2,000, $2,500 grand prize? What about the other 7 fighters? What do they go home with other than the opportunity to say they helped organize an 8 man tournament. Is this worth 3 fights in one night? To some, maybe so but to others, it seems a single fight purse looks more desirable when compared to a tournament. Tournaments are a step back, not a step forward in our sport. Fighters NEED to earn more, but where will the money come from? Where are the big sponsors? Where is the TV exposure to draw the sponsors forward?

To earn that Ishii respect the road better be paved with BIG $$$ because without it a tournament style event has little to offer the fighters. K-1 had and probably still has that "Endless money" and no one seems to care where it comes from, as long as they get paid, and paid well. MONEY is the ONLY thing that will make such a BIG EVENT work and we can only hope the $$$ K-1 has available to them stay in kickboxing. In addition, let's hope that someday there is enough for everyone to do their job well and make the sport more than it is today. We can only hope...

See who all has fought on a K-1 event (Even some amateur undercard fighters) by clicking HERE!

MORE NEWS OF 1-19-03

As announced here on our December News Page, the rumors about K-1 and Mr. Ishii were confirmed today with a press release sent to the IKF. This news can also be found on the K-1 page by clicking HERE. The press release reads;

Announcement to K-1 International Fans

As the result of a tax investigation launched last year by Japanese officials, Kazuyoshi Ishii announced on December 28, 2002 that he had decided to step down as K-1 President. Under these circumstances, the K-1 event scheduled for January 26 in Kochi, Japan, has been postponed. Other already scheduled events and international tournaments are not affected by the recent developments, and K-1's complete domestic and international 2003 schedule will resume in March, 2003. K-1 regrets any inconvenience caused to fighters and fans.

Back To Main OPINION PAGE, Click HERE!