LiverKick Rankings Updated on 5/26/2016
|Kevin Harper (top right) with Vinny Shoreman|
So the whole Kickboxing and Muay Thai community around the world is a bit fractured and strange sometimes, but there are always good reasons to come together and bond and right now seems like one of those moments. I was talking earlier with a guy that most of you know pretty well, Vinny Shoreman, formerly the color commentator on It's Showtime and has also done work with K-1, Yokkao, LEGEND, Enfusion and more. Vinny is a guy that has been around the UK Kickboxing and Muay Thai scene and become an important figure and he's looking to do something good for the community, something which I completely support.
You might know the name of Kevin Harper, you might not, it depends on how much you've paid attention to the Kickboxing and Muay Thai scene out there. Harper has been doing some tremendous work over in the UK as a fighter, trainer and promoter, but things haven't been smooth sailing for Harper. Harper and his son, Oliver, have just gone through what has to be one of the worst nightmares imaginable, as Kevin's wife has lost her long battle to cancer. This leaves Kevin in an awful spot and Oliver without a mother, something that no child should have to endure.
Tyrone Spong has already offered up his gloves from his upcoming bout with Nathan Corbett to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going to Kevin.
I've been looking forward to this card all weekend. First of all Denise Kielholtz Vs Tiffany Van Soest is going to be an amazing clash of styles, I can't wait to see how Van Soest deals with Kielholtz combos or how Denise deals with Tiffany's power. Also.. Andy Souwer not much more I need to say about him, I'm just hoping he gets through this one without any injuries since his S-Cup fight is next weekend.
70 KG - Marvin Sansaar (Surinam) Vs Mohammed Jaraya (Morocco) - Mohammed Jaraya Wins by KO Rd 2 (overhand right)
85 KG - Tom De Smet (The Netherlands) Vs Daniel Ciric (Serbia) - Tom De Smet Wins by TKO Rd 1 (hand combinations then corner threw in the towel)
80 KG - Alva Remor (Curacao) Vs Khalid El Bakouri (Morocco) - Khalid El Bakouri Wins by Decision
70 KG - Cedric Bacuna (Curacao) Vs Andrei Ostrovanu (Romania) - Andrei Ostrovanu Wins by KO Rd 1 (knee to the chin)
57 KG Enfusion World Title - Denise Kielholtz (The Netherlands) Vs Tiffany van Soest (USA) - Denise Kielholtz wins by Unan Decision
70 KG Enfusion World Title - Andy Souwer (The Netherlands) Vs Ardalan Sheikholeslami (Iran) - Andy Souwer Wins by KO Rd 4 (Ardalan dropped his hands and laughed and paid dearly from a series of right hands)
We are, as they say, at a bit of an impasse in the sport of kickboxing right now. It’s difficult to avoid, difficult to make eye contact with and not look away. We’ve been at this place before, though, which is why it feels so awful this time around. Back in 2010 it looked like the sport of kickboxing was heading for imminent doom and destruction. FEG was a sinking ship and they were taking on water -- fast -- faster than they ever wanted to publicly admit.
Things were looking bleak for the sport of kickboxing at that time, but there was still hope. There were still people who were passionate about the sport, who wanted to do everything that they could for it. You had Simon Rutz and Bas Boon at each other’s throats, but both men were passionate and willing to do what it took to keep the sport afloat. You had Romanian promoter Eduard Irimia ready to expand beyond Romania. You had men with vision. Followed by the men with money to go with that passion.
As I stated before, we are at an impasse at the moment. The Japanese fight market has shrunk, shrunk to the point of almost being dead, but not quite. It doesn’t exist like it did what feels like a lifetime ago. What exists now is a facsimile of the grandeur that we knew before. Simulacra, a copy of a copy of a copy with adjustments made for degradation. Europe and America were always the wild west for kickboxing; that was clearly where the money was, but would it be able to reach the great heights that were achieved in Japan and Asia?
Enter GLORY. GLORY took a gamble, filtering millions of dollars into the sport that was on its knees after losing its king. Without a doubt the K-1 name held the prestige, it had done things that no one thought possible with the fringe sport of kickboxing. The rise of K-1 meant making the rest of the sport of kickboxing look silly in the process. The end result is that kickboxing rules aren’t kickboxing rules anymore, they are K-1 Rules. The name K-1 is intrinsically linked with the sport of kickboxing even to this day, for good or for bad.
So GLORY was set to fill the hole that was left by FEG’s bankruptcy with big promises, fireworks and a roster of capable production crew and the best fighters in the world. Sights were set on America, on taking on the leviathan market where the UFC rose from obscurity into a sport appearing regularly on Fox programming and had weaseled its way into becoming a household name. This was kickboxing’s white whale and, for a while, things were looking good.
Spike TV was hungry for the next big combat sport after they lost the UFC to Fox Sports, scooping up Bellator and then K-1. K-1 withdrew their name from the hat to restructure, leaving Spike TV ready to accept GLORY into the fold. Kickboxing had finally made it, it was on cable television in the United States. The first show happened and the ratings were in. They weren’t great, but they weren’t bad, either. There was promise.
Since then there have been the good times and the bad times, but what became increasingly clear was that there was no competition for GLORY anywhere out there. GLORY was doing things right, it was paying the fighters what they deserved to be paid, treating them with respect and doing everything right. Growing pains are real, though, especially when the anticipated growth doesn’t live up to the reality. Kickboxing was, for all intents and purposes, a new sport to many fans out there. It was a part of the whole that is Mixed Martial Arts, thus, it was fringe. There has been growth, but the growth is slow, it is costly and it is frustrating.
GLORY’s last event was GLORY 17/Last Man Standing on June 21st, which, as of the time that I write this, was two months ago. Since then there have been rumors, whispers and public decrees from fans; GLORY is dead. If you read forums or comment sections on websites you’ll hear all about it, you’ll hear that so-and-so’s trainer said that the company is bankrupt, you’ll hear that shows have been canceled, that members of the board are ready to depart, that payments have been filtering in late. For the kickboxing faithful these are all triggers, things that will bring back that long-forgotten PTSD that came with the dissolution of FEG’s K-1 back in 2010 and 2011.
Then there are those that like to watch the world burn, who are calling for the end. These are the fatalists. We’ve had private assurances from many within GLORY that right now is simply a time of restructuring, of regrouping, of changing strategies. Yesterday’s announcement of a new CEO was the first step. But, let’s give in to hysteria, to fatalism. Let’s say that GLORY has a few shows left and then, just as quickly as they emerged, they disappear into the ether of kickboxing history.
Who is there to pick up the pieces this time? Where are the Bas Boons looking to find anyone, to compromise his own visions and brands, to make things work? Where are the Simon Rutz’s running the #2 promotion and ready to take on the financial burden of being the de facto #1? Where are the Pierre Andurands, Ivan Farnetis, Scott Rudmanns and others who are willing to take a risk with their own personal money to invest in the sport? Where are your GLORY replacements where these now out-of-the-job fighters have to find work with?
The market right now is a mess. In a way, you can blame GLORY for the mess. GLORY was looking to be the alpha and omega in kickboxing, which meant exclusive contracts, which meant paying what others couldn’t pay, treating fighters unlike they were used to be treated. So you’ll tell me LEGEND Fight Show, the same promotion that put on three events thus far, only one in 2014 with nothing scheduled yet. So you’ll tell me GFC, the guys that are paying Badr Hari a mint to compete for them, because you were able to watch that last show from your couch, right? Because outside of Badr Hari they are stacking cards with expensive talent, right?
So you’ll say Enfusion, K-1 or SuperKombat. I’ll say that all three are great promotions in their own right, each one growing in their own way, with their own unique business plans and markets. How many of them see a broad market as their audience right now? K-1 is focused on Asia, Enfusion is focused on the UK and SuperKombat is focused on Romania. You might say that if GLORY simply disappears like Criss Angel in a stunt that they’ll be able to bolster their rosters with big names, but where does that money come from? The end of It’s Showtime came from overreaching and hiring top talents.
Right now nobody has what FEG’s K-1 had in a television partner that was willing to sink millions of their own money into each event and, realistically, we might never see that again. GLORY doesn’t even have that right now. Instead, GLORY has a good deal with Spike TV, but one that bears little fruit for either side right now and might take years to build up properly, to build an audience and really start making money.
The rise of GLORY was both beneficial and detrimental to the sport of kickboxing. If GLORY ceases to be, then the sport of kickboxing is set back even further than when FEG’s K-1 ceased to be. If you consider yourself a fan of kickboxing then at this moment the sport will require something of you. The sport will require your faith. If GLORY says that they aren’t done yet, then, well, they aren’t done yet. In the meantime we can only hope that Enfusion, K-1, SuperKombat and others continue to grow and find themselves in better positions to provide stability for both fans and fighters alike.
For now, let's save our eulogies and instead focus on the sport that we all love.
Chances are before this weekend you hadn't heard of Simon Santana, but you had probably heard the name Ilias Bulaid. Enfusion is okay with that because Ilias Bulaid is only 20 years old and they released a press statement today claiming that Edwin van Os, the man behind Enfusion and manager of Bulaid, wanted to bring Bulaid up slowly against talents on his level. According to them Bulaid is now ready for the big names of the world and they want you to know that.
What better way to show that than releasing footage from his pretty crazy knockout from Enfusion 30 this past weekend, right? Check it out. This kid is probably going to go places.
As usual, I began my weekly prep of the Warman Kickfighting podcast show by writing out my notes. I watched the Thai stadium muay thai fights for critical breakdown. Then I rewatched fights from the Glory 28 participants before this weekends event. As I watched them, I realize that I had just done this for a Glory card two weeks ago. Then it hit me that there seems to be multiple major cards every week. From Enfusion having their most successful card, to Lion Fight having another stoppage filled event, every weekend has been full of fights. In the next two months we have Yokkao, Bellator's kickboxing league, Holland's World Fighting League, and another Glory card. I have been a kickboxing fan for a long time. I cannot remember a better time to be a kickboxing fan, and yet we may be held back from enjoying it by our oldest fan base.
In the 90s, when K-1 emerged muay thai and kickboxing didn't just have several events. They dominated the martial arts sporting combat culture. UFC at that time was considered street fighting. The term mixed martial artist was not in use. A skilled martial artist tested themselves in kickboxing or muay thai. They had the K-1 World Grand Prix, which put the value of state and country driven world titles and put the athletes to the test in a tournament field of the best. Names like Aerts, Hoost, Bernardo, Hug, and Lebanner emerge as consistent victors and major international stars. But just as important as the star, the major K-1 tournament produced a holy place. Everyone wanted to one day fight in Japan, where there was borderline idol worship of elite combatants.
Along with this came the advancement of technology. Computers went from novelty to mandatory in homes across the world. With this brought the emergence of fight forums, where people from all around the world would weigh in on the events of their region, stars to look out for, and of course, long breakdowns of the major K-1 fight cards. European based Super League got some attention, but clearly, the leagues of note were K-1’s Heavyweight and 70kg Max divisions.
Flash Forward to 2011. K-1, due to multiple reasons, ran into financial trouble. They began to do less and less shows and eventually had to cancel their World Cup. They had no K-1 WGP that year. Interests down, the emergence of mixed martial arts and the UFC as the new leader in the culture of combat sports, and many proclaimed the end of kickboxing.
Then, the Glory group attempted to buy K-1. They decided against it after seeing the mess of contracts and debt they would be absorbing. But, rich people play the game of business best, and they were able to purchase Simon Rutz's It’s Showtime management team. Rutz had almost every major European K-1 star under his roster and they were pulled from K-1 and began fighting in Glory on a regular basis.
K-1 was also hit with a fantastic turn for the best. The K-1 Global Holdings Ltd. attempted to recreate the old flame of K-1s greatness. A failed attempt of an event in USA and a K-1 World Grand Prix that did not have the best fighters in the world ruined the brand more than helped it. The group that took over at the end of the K-1 Global run decided to focus on smaller weights and remain in the Asian Market of which they had great history.
In the last two years both companies have overcome rocky starts and have begun to have consistent success. Glory had the early mistake. A failed PPV event and the longest fight card ever on NYE did not push the brand. However, they signed major US television deals with Spike and now ESPN, something K-1 never accomplished. Just as important as being seen is creating stars. Nieky Holzken and Rico Verhoeven are Glory brand created stars. Sure a young Holzken fought in K-1 and lost to superstar Buakaw. That drained down version wasn't his best showing, though. Holzken, now fighting at 77kgs, is considered the must see guy in the sport. His combinations, body shots, knockout power, and fight flow are amazing. Verhoeven went from journeyman heavyweight with no punching pop, to the unchallenged best in the world and the KO power to match his awesome technique.
Improved K-1 too had some failure. A K-1 Max GP that ended in scandal as one of the fighters(Two time champ Buakaw) said that he was warned of foul play in the judges and refused to fight the extra round of a K-1 MAX FINAL MATCH. Since then they have focused on weight classes that have elite Japanese athletes. K-1 had their most success with Masato, a young, exciting fighter who the girls loved and had the skill to beat the elite. As many of Japan's elite combat sport athletes are shorter, focusing on weight classes like 65kgs, 60kgs, and now 55kgs has produced several athletes from Japan that create Japanese television interests. Masaaki Noiri, brothers Koya and Hirotaka Urabe, Japanese adopted Kimura "Phillip" Minoru and 55kg stud Takeru are their homegrown stars. K-1 puts on five solid shows a year and though they don't have the production value of events past, the crowd and ring action are excellent every card.
With the success of these two super powers, we have solid paychecks from China. Kunlun is hard to follow because it has a lot of fights, but not a lot of narrative. However they have put together some fantastic 4 man tournaments and super fights on their cards. Kunlun is also not exclusive, meaning that K-1 and Glory athletes are able to pick up a fight here and there and grab good paydays, as long as it doesn't conflict with their major promotions events.
As for women, this is also the best time to be in the sport. When I first fell in love with kickboxing and Muay Thai it was a three woman list at most. Names like Rijker, De Randamie, Kitchen, Rivera-Parr, and Elmont were amazing competitors, but got very little recognition. Thanks to Enfusion, Kunlun and now Bellator's kickboxing league. There aren't just good paydays out there. There are great exposure opportunities as well. Iman Barlow was the first woman pushed by Enfusion and after a reality show victory, they began pushing Anissa Meksen as well. Denise Keilholtz is an Enfusion champion who will now be fighting for Bellator's kickboxing company as well. Lion Fight was birthed on champions like American Tiffany van Soest. We are truly in a different age. Despite this, older fans are still missing the above improvements and continuing to think kickboxing remains in a down period.
The struggle with noticing the improvement is the old guard of kickboxing fans that misunderstood success in the kickboxing prime of 1994-2003. They judge today's athletes with old expectations. They recognize kickboxing as K-1, the way people recognize MMA as UFC. With no heavyweights winning tournaments in Japan once a year, they assume the sport is down.
They also struggled to grasp the movement of technology. I think a major reason why older fans feel the sport is dead is because it lived on fight forums. As "Lord Gaul" I was a 1000+ post man on several sites. We would talk about every punch in every fight for months before and after. With that being absent, people see the sport as dead.
What those fans have missed in these two examples is that K-1 was only good for the heavyweights and Max weight guys. Dimitri Shukuta and Joeri Mes were the elite 77kg fighters of their era. But they had no home. The moment Super League went away they were forced to look for single fights. Mes at the end of his career was able to lean down and take a few K-1 fights. But for the majority of those in-between the weight classes, this was a loss. Guys like Kamel Jamel, Anuwat, Liam Harrison were too small, and guys like Clifton Brown and Nathan Corbett were stuck in the middle. Imagine if they had a middleweight K-1 belt to battle for. Tyrone Spong moving up the weight classes would have gotten even more attention if he won the K-1 belt at every single weight on his way up to heavyweight. We are in a special time when the most prominent company has a home for the majority of the world's weight classes.
The technology evolved for the best. YouTube was pretty new when I got into kickboxing and it was actually looked down upon in kickboxing communities. People wanted links to download for their hard drives. Sendspace and Megaupload where the acceptable modes of sharing and those that didn't share were called "leechers." We are 10plus years past that now. YouTube is the heavyweight champ in the video world. Not only can you find most videos there, but the major promotions upload content for you to watch, as advertising money can be made with viewership. So of course the number of visitors to the fight forums would go down once access to the videos got easier. Twitter is another addition. We use to post and then press reload to see other peoples post. It is far easier posting on the ever scrolling wall of twitter. You can now watch a stream of the event on your computer and tweet on your phone...or vice versa.
Now I am not saying this changes cover everything we had in the prime years. I personally dreamed of the Japanese crowd when I pursued a kickboxing career. The K-1 tournament was indeed a special event exclusive to kickboxing, with its awesome white belt and massive trophy prize. Also all the cultural challenged aren't gone. Now stand up fighters see kickboxing and Muay Thai as something they do in preparation for MMA careers. However I can't help but be excited for the next generation of kickboxers. Enfusion and Glory do ten plus shows a year. K-1 and Yokkao do five plus, and Kunlun does fifteen plus. There are more opportunities to fight in front of large audiences, have access to more television and online stream exposure, make better paydays, and they can pursue kickboxing combat sports careers with more opportunities to compete than ever before.
You can't have a week without having some drama, and some drama we do have, as upcoming K-1 World MAX Final 16 participant Abraham Roqueni has publicly made a statement declaring that he's ending his relationship with his manager, Javier Rolo of Street Culture. If Street Culture sounds familiar to you it is because Street Culture worked as the local promoter in Spain for past It's Showtime events and is doing the same duty for the upcoming K-1 World MAX Final 16 in Mallorca. For promoter Javier Rolo this is not his only pressing issue, though, as there have been some issues with recent Enfusion Live events which he helped to promote.
Roqueni has severed his relationship with Rolo and Street Culture, which in turn has forced him to pull out of the K-1 World MAX Final 16. Before the lynch mob comes out, it's hard to see this as a reflection of K-1, really, and instead is an issue with their promotional partner. Some might be surprised at K-1 using a local partner, but it is pretty standard procedure for organizations, as even GLORY uses local promoters (Topuz in Turkey, DiBlasi in Italy, Neglia in New York, etc.). This is a loss for K-1, as Roqueni does have a solid name from his win over Andy Souwer back in 2011, but not a huge loss by any stretch of the imagination.
Iman Barlow is somewhat of a phenom in Women’s Muay Thai. The 21-year old from Melton Mowbray, UK, defended her 54kg Women’s Enfusion world title this past weekend with a decisive victory over challenger Iman Ghablou.
JS: So first off Miss Barlow, congratulations on another dominant victory this past weekend, how did you evaluate your own performance and what was your game plan coming into the bout?
IB: The fight went well, I thought I won every round convincingly. After the first round I felt in control and from there I just enjoyed the fight and was sampling different techniques. We (My Dad and I) knew Iman Ghablou was a good boxer so our plan was to utilize the teep a lot but apart from that was just to go out there and bring my title back home to England.
JS: It's interesting that you mention your usage of the teep as that was something I was going to ask you about. The vast majority of strikers look to utilize the teep to the body, in this bout you looked to throw it regularly to the chin of Ghablou. Is this a technique you specifically drilled for this opponent or is it a move we can expect to see from you more often?
IB: Yes, I looked to throw it but then I saw she was open a lot for straight shots, like down the middle with teeps and straight punches. I saw the gaps and went for them but also I heard my Dad in my corner and he had also seen the gaps.
JS: It was a fairly one-sided affair and was your seventh appearance with the Enfusion promotion. Are there any current fighters on the Enfusion roster or outside the organization, which you would like to fight next?
IB: Haha it was actually my 8th bout! Not really I am happy where I am at the moment, Enfusion have given me the opportunity of a lifetime to travel around the world doing what I love. I don't really like to call fighters out but all I will say is that I will fight the best to become the best slowly but surely. -54kg is dangerous division with me in for many years to come.
JS: You've already travelled to various different locations throughout your career, are there any other countries you wish to compete in?
IB: Yes I've seen some amazing places and the best thing about the whole experience is the people you meet along the way, I have friends from this sport all around the world it's amazing! Of course I've always said I'd love to fight in America that's my number one choice. Australia would also be pretty cool.
JS: I've read previously online that you were introduced to martial arts at the age of 2! Could you give us a brief insight on your introduction and the martial arts you have trained?
IB: Yes my Dad Mark Barlow and my Mum Maxine Adams run Assassins Muay Thai gym so when I was little I used to go and sit down while they used to teach and I started to join in when I was around 2 and a half. I used to hit the bag and the fighters used to mess around with me and take me on the pads. I had my first fight when I was 4. I've always been into Muay Thai and it's all I have ever known, I’ve struggled to get fights sometimes when I was younger so I have done a few kickboxing and K-1 rules fights to keep busy.
JS: Have you ever trained in other disciplines or would consider making the switch over to MMA?
IB: I've trained in Boxing before and a little bit of Judo. Apart from that I once had a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lesson with a friend but I don't think it's for me I much prefer to be a stand up fighter. I can't see myself going into MMA but I'd never rule it out.
JS: Last but not least, your hometown of Melton Mowbray is renowned for it’s pork pies and Stilton cheese. Now your fight is out the way, will you be indulging in either or do you have another post-fight snack of preference?
IB: Haha it sure is. They’re definitely not on my list of favorites to indulge in; my problem is that I love food of all kinds. I love pad thai and also a good Nandos after a fight makes me happy, I also drink a lot of tea so it's nice to drink that after a fight also. I'm not indulging too much as my next fight will be on Enfusion’s reality show victory The Vixen in September and to win you have to have four fights in the space of about 5 days so I'll have a few days off and get back into training for that; sixteen women and only one winner. It's going be one of the hardest things I’ll go through but that will make it even more rewarding when I win.
JS: Best of luck with your fights in September and thank you very much for your time Iman, is there anything else you wish to say, anyone to thank?
JB: Yes, I'd like to first thank my family for always being a great support system and for helping me follow my dreams, all of Enfusion family, Vinny Shoreman and my sponsors Gold standard nutrition, Fairtex UK, Booost oxygen, Dirty 3rd Clothing and thank you to everyone for their continued support and messages, they always means a lot.
Enfusion have branded themselves as one of the better European Kickboxing leagues in the past few years not only with their Enfusion Live series of Kickboxing events but their Enfusion Reality series. Enfusion Reality has been running for a few years now and this time around for Enfusion Reality Season Five, they'll be focusing on the women. Thus Enfusion Reality Season Five has been dubbed "Victory of the Vixen."
So check out the new trailer for Enfusion Reality Season Five and be happy that you'll be able to watch it on EnfusionLive.com when it airs across the world.
As those of us who’ve been around for a while might say, when it comes to the sport of kickboxing, no news is typically bad news. We’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about Glory in the past few months--from murky accounts of an organization on dire straits to assurances by some of our professional kickboxing journalist pals that they have the exclusive scoop on BIG NEWS which has simply been embargoed by Glory for the time being. The fact remains that we haven’t heard anything substantive from Glory since July. There was talk of more SpikeTV content and of an event to be held at the end of October--we’re still waiting for any of these things to materialize. This behavior is worrisome for those of us who followed the scene as recently as 2012, when K-1 made promise after promise of a big comeback that ultimately never took place. It would be sad to see Glory succumb to the same fate as its ambitious predecessors, with K-1 and It’s Showtime telling the tale of how unforgiving the fight business can be.
Kickboxing in particular is a very strange industry, one that appears very active at a glance but which tells a far more sobering story beneath the surface. If we judged the scene solely on the number of events held annually, we might think that things look pretty good, with organizations like LEGEND, Global FC, Top King, A-1, and SuperKombat making news on sites like this one with fight cards featuring big name talent. While the accessibility of this content is highly variable, from robust TV broadcasts to mislabeled camera phone footage posted on YouTube, there are nevertheless fights happening all over the world and subsequently news and results which we can report to you.
But the difference between offering you a survey of sundry action from around the globe and a developing narrative that you can follow and become engrossed in is the difference between Kickboxing as a mere curiosity and as a sport in its own right. There are plenty of Kickboxing and Muay Thai videos that show up on MMA sites, but as much as their readers might appreciate them, they will never get the same first person experience of being there when iconic and spectacular moments unfold--memories of being glued to your TV when Andy Hug landed that spinning back kick or when Joe Schilling knocked Simon Marcus out cold. These moments were real, and they made us believe in this sport and dream about the possibilities. Call it a pet peeve, but I find it a little heartbreaking when brilliant retrospectives of great kickboxing moments wind up on MMA sites under “look at what this might teach us about MMA technique!” headings.
No one in particular is to blame for how things have turned out for kickboxing. Ultimately the success of any venture depends on the convergence of talent, a solid product, proper promotion, and a receptive market at an opportune moment in time. Kickboxing had various combinations of these things at different points in time, but the times and circumstances changed. The downfall of K-1 had as much to do with its management as it did with evolving trends in the Japanese entertainment market. Many factors came into play, but unfortunately, things ended for K-1 in an ugly way, leaving fighters with substantial outstanding earnings which they may never be able to fully collect. However, let us not kid ourselves about what it takes to build a real professional sport league. We’ve seen plenty of flamboyant millionaire playboys from around the world blow their money to party with celebrities and to book their favorite kickboxers for an evening of entertainment. Some of these mysterious rich dudes will even slap a label on their “organization” and take lots of photos with kickboxing bigwigs to make things look legit, but we all know that trying to produce a sustainable sports entertainment venue for the masses takes a lot more vision and tenacity than that. No matter how flashy their shows get, the playboys are not going to save Kickboxing, and neither will the small promotions like Top King (although we’ll give it a chance, just like we always do--that’s the story of Kickboxing, right?) that seem to come and go every year.
We really hope that Glory will actually make it. It seems like the formula’s been there--Glory had enough money, the right talent, the right TV deal, and an ostensible understanding of the business startup process (God knows there are enough smart-sounding former hedge fund/venture capital people on board--how many of them does it take to screw in a light bulb?). Where do things stand now? We really don’t know. We do know that there have been no shows in three months, and if it is indeed true that Glory is coming to Oklahoma on November 7, then that will make four months since its last show. We really hope that the lights will stay on at Glory because as kickboxing fans, we’ve looked forward for a long time to not living in the dark of the sports world.