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Training Diary: March 18

As I looked to begin my Muay Thai training, I realized I was somewhat underprepared from a gym attire standpoint. As someone who hasn’t worked out in a few years, I knew I needed a few things before I started. So, prior to class #1 I hit the store and bought... shoes. Why did I do this? I have no idea. I’ve watched plenty of Muay Thai. I understand the rules of Muay Thai. And shoes? Not exactly Muay Thai gear. And yet there I was, shiny new workout shoes in hand. It took about 5 seconds of being in the gym to realize what a stupid purchase that had been.

But my purchasing journey had just begun. At class #2, we got a quick talking down about coming to class unprepared – it’s a Muay Thai class, you need Muay Thai gear. Which is correct. My only problem? I’m not rolling in money, so needed to find things that were inexpensive, but still effective. I made a list: Gloves, Shin pads, Mouth guard, Hand wraps, Head gear, Cup, Muay Thai trunks, Ankle braces.

After some deliberation, I decided to put head gear, trunks, and ankle braces on the back burner and focus on the rest. Now, the trouble is, there are an unbelievable amount of options out there in cyberspace for these things. Where do you turn? How cheap can you go before you are getting something worthless? And is that $99 pair really so much better than the $59 pair? Here’s what I ended up with:

Gloves Shin Guards Hand WrapsGLOVES – I started searching for these at the local used sporting goods store, which quickly revealed itself to be a mistake. Partly because the nice, enthusiastic salesman had no clue what he was talking about and told me emphatically I did NOT want a boxing glove for Muay Thai, but instead some sort of large, fingered glove? I still don’t get what he was talking about – those weird Bruce Lee gloves no one ever uses? But the bigger problem is that you can’t buy boxing gloves used, because once they’ve gone to the used store, the padding is shot, and your knuckles will be too if you use them. Of course. So, off to the Sport Authority to try on their stock. Lots of options here, most of them uncomfortable, and many of them felt downright unsafe. None more so than the Muhammed Ali signature line – maybe it was just the way it fit my own hand, but I felt like using those would result in both broken knuckles and a broken wrist. The Greatest deserves better. I tried on everything they had, threw some punches at the nearby heavy bag, and in the end I settled on a pair of Everlast 16 oz. MMA Sparring Gloves (pictured). They fit well, they’re comfortable – I’m happy. Cost: $40.

SHIN PADS – This was the toughest one, as I found no stores with any in stock that I could try out (Although Mr. Eager Used Goods Clerk suggested soccer shin guards. No thanks.), which meant I would have to order online and hope for the best. I scouted and scouted, comparing tons of stores, prices, reading reviews – it’s exhausting, particularly when shopping for a product you’ve never once used before. I ended up ordering from MMAStop.com, partly because they are local, based just outside of Chicago, and I like supporting local if I can. Turned out to be a bit of a process as the first pair I ordered were out of stock, and the replacement was out of stock too. I exchanged a number of e-mails with the folks there, who were extremely nice and accommodating. They ended up recommending a slightly more expensive pair, but giving it to me at the original price since it had been a hassle. Very nice customer service, and a thumbs up to MMAStop.com from me. I ended up with a pair from RevGear (pictured). Have not yet used them, but they feel very sturdy and well constructed, and they fit me nicely. Cost (with shipping): $32

MOUTH GUARD – Just a basic $10 molded version. Covers just the top teeth, but it will do for now. I hope.

HAND WRAPS – Picked these up on the glove trip. Various options here, but I went with the Everlast 180 (pictured). Biggest difficulty so far is trying to get them on correctly – still not sure I’m getting the absolute best protection from them, particularly around the thumb, which is very hard to wrap. Cost: $10.

CUP – There are a ton of very expensive options for supporters and cups, but frankly, I don’t see the need to spend so much when you can get a perfectly fine, basic version at Target for $10. That’s what I got - it fits fine, supports fine, no complaints.

So there we go. Total cost for gloves, shin guards, mouth piece, cup, hand wraps: $102. Head gear, better shorts, and ankle sleeves are yet to come. Did I make good purchases? Well, the only way to find out is to get in there and start using them. We’ll give that a go next week and report back on the findings.

This is an area where I really want to hear from you. What gear do you use? What works for you and what have you had a bad experience with? It would be great if those starting off could have some good info on this rather confusing area from those of you who have been at it.

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here.  I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL www.convictionfitness.com.

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Simon Rutz Interview Part 2

Simon RutzAmidst all the bad K-1 news, Europe’s top fighting organization, It’s Showtime, has been a hot topic of conversation lately. As plans for 2011 come together, we’re seeing more and more events announced by the company, who find themselves constantly expanding their product throughout the world. But in the middle of all the positive news came an unfortunate announcement last week – due to a planned co-promotion with K-1 falling through, It’s Showtime would not run their big annual show at the Amsterdam Arena in 2011.

Between this latest news, all the rumors swirling around K-1, Badr Hari’s return, and various other stories, now seemed like a good time to speak to the always forthcoming It’s Showtime president Simon Rutz. As always, Mr. Rutz offered plenty of insight into their dealings with K-1 and so much more.

If you missed part 1 yesterday, click here for the story on exactly what happened with the canceled Amsterdam Arena event and the state of affairs for K-1 and It’s Showtime.

LiverKick.com Exclusive Interview with Simon Rutz Part 2

LiverKick.com: It’s very exciting to hear Badr Hari will return in May in Lyon. Is that fight confirmed?

Simon Rutz: It is not confirmed yet because the contract is not signed, but I think we will have the contract signed in 2 weeks.

LK: Any news on his return opponent?

SR: At this moment we are talking with possible opponents.

LK: Where do his legal troubles stand?

SR: Nobody knows what will happen in the future with this case! This case was big in the news in The Netherlands, but from what I understand, the police still don’t have any witnesses.

LK: So do you have concerns about Hari’s reputation considering the trouble kickboxing recently had with the government in Amsterdam?

SR: Of course it doesn’t help! But these are two totally different cases. Amsterdam wants to have big sports events in their city, but with one of the biggest events (It’s Showtime), they make it difficult. When we don’t run show in the future in Amsterdam, it will be a shame for the city, but not for It’s Showtime. We will survive with or without Amsterdam.

LK: Remy Bonjasky is working with It’s Showtime now. Have you discussed him having a retirement fight with you?

SR: Yes, I discussed a retirement fight for him, but the money he asked for I don’t want to pay! Of course he can ask, but believe me, nobody will pay him that much money!

LK: How did you feel about K-1’s response to the protest regarding the Hesdy Gerges vs. Semmy Schilt fight?

SR: What they said and did was bullshit. They say that the corner for Schilt was wrong, and they punished the judges? I understand why K-1 did this, because last year they didn’t get Badr Hari and Remy Bonjasky, so they needed the 4 time K-1 winner Semmy Schilt in the final. I think if Hesdy Gerges was in the final, it would have been a totally different final.

LK: You had an unfortunate falling out with Cosmo Alexandre last year. Why couldn’t that situation be worked out?

SR: Because it was the second time he did something wrong. But for me there’s no problem. He is a nice guy and a good fighter, but I don’t use him anymore.

LK: I understand your clause regarding fighters taking fights before It’s Showtime shows – is that written in to their contracts?

SR: It’s always written in their contract, but with Cosmo, we didn’t write the contract because, stupid as I am sometime, a word from me is more important than a contract. But don’t misunderstand me, in 99% of the cases we have a contract!

LK: Tyrone Spong is no longer the 95kg champ. Any idea when there will be a fight for that title, and who might fight for it?

SR: Yes, I am working on that and I think that 2 fighters are fighting for this title on March 6 in Amsterdam. Soon I will let everybody know.

LK: Melvin Manhoef said on twitter that he likely won’t fight for It’s Showtime this year. Might he be stripped of the 85kg belt?

SR: If he doesn’t fight for his title, yes I will strip him of the belt because those are the rules! But Melvin is Melvin, one day he says that and the other day he thinks differently. Also, if he doesn’t fight this year for It’s Showtime and K-1 is broke, who else can pay him? Last time Melvin was disappointed because K-1 didn’t treat him well and that’s the case.

LK: What are your personal favorite fights in It’s Showtime history?

SR: Badr Hari vs. Sem Schilt, Mootje Khamal vs. Chahid, Ivan Hipolyte vs. Rayen Simson, Rob Kaman vs. Alexei Ignashov, and almost all the fights from Gago Drago.

LK: Last year when I spoke to you and asked who we should watch for in 2010, you brought up Aussi Ouzgni, who then had a great year. So, who should we watch out for in 2011?

SR: Marat Grigorian is one of the biggest talents in the world. Watch him.

LK: Anything else our readers should know?

SR: A lot of people think that It’s Showtime is happy that K-1 is broke, but believe me we hope that K-1 survives. That’s really better for the sport. Also personally I like the people from FEG like Mr. Tanikawa, but in my opinion they do a lot of strange things. For many years I have said to them that they must do things differently but every time they do the opposite. I think that they were afraid of It’s Showtime, but that is totally not necessary. The world is big enough for two good and big kickboxing organizations. Also, I want to say that life is beautiful! Carpe Diem!

 

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Exclusive Simon Rutz Interview

SimonRutzAmidst all the bad K-1 news, Europe’s top fighting organization, It’s Showtime, has been a hot topic of conversation lately.  As plans for 2011 come together, we’re seeing more and more events announced by the company, who find themselves constantly expanding their product throughout the world.  But in the middle of all the positive news came an unfortunate announcement last week – due to a planned co-promotion with K-1 falling through, It’s Showtime would not run their big annual show at the Amsterdam Arena in 2011.

Between this latest news, all the rumors swirling around K-1, Badr Hari’s return, and various other stories, now seemed like a good time to speak to the always forthcoming It’s Showtime president Simon Rutz.  As always, Mr. Rutz offered plenty of insight into their dealings with K-1 and so much more.

Read on for part 1 of this 2 part exclusive LiverKick.com interview, as we get the story on exactly what happened with the canceled Amsterdam Arena event and the state of affairs for K-1 and It’s Showtime.

LiverKick.com: It’s a shame you may not run in the Amsterdam Arena this year. When did you begin to think this show might not happen?

Simon Rutz: We have already known for many years that K-1 has big problems, but a few months ago they said to me that they have a new investor.  That was the reason why I agreed to cooperate on the Amsterdam Arena event in May this year.  Around Christmas I felt that there was something wrong with their situation because they didn’t answer my requests anymore.

LK: What were the plans for the show? Did you have fighters already lined up?

SR: When It’s Showtime and K-1 cooperate I always give my suggestions, and most of the time they use them.  My suggestions for this year were: Badr Hari vs. Gokhan Saki; Peter Aerts vs. Tyrone Spong; and Hesdy Gerges vs. Alistair Overeem, Errol Zimmerman, or someone else.

LK: We’ve heard a lot about K-1 not paying fighters, and I know Giorgio Petrosyan had problems with that last year. Are there It’s Showtime or Black Label fighters who are waiting to be paid by K-1?

SR: Yes, the following fighters have not been paid for a fight: Melvin Manhoef, Tyrone Spong, Daniel Ghita, Hesdy Gerges, Gago Drago, Pajonsuk, Dzevad Poturak, Chahid, and Giorgio Petrosyan still needs his win bonus from the last K-1 MAX tournament.  It is a lot of money! I never let our fighters fight before they are paid for their last fight.  I hear that some other fighters haven’t gotten their money for 4 fights.  It is a sad situation for all the fighters.

LK:  Given all these problems, what, in your opinion, does K-1 need to do to survive?

SR: They need a lot of money, and they must ask my advice (and do something with that advice) because they do a lot of stupid things.

LK: If they don’t get that money, and they don’t survive, what will it mean for kickboxing and for It’s Showtime?

SR: If they don’t survive it is very bad for the sport and for many fighters.  For It’s Showtime, it would mean that we are the number 1 kickboxing organization in the world and everybody will look to us.  We are getting busy like never before.  We have already seen a movement from K-1 to It’s Showtime.  Almost every day I talk with people around the world who want to organize an It’s Showtime event in their country.

LK: Would you ever consider buying out K-1?

SR: Why should I do that?  I have my own brand and company who is healthy and is going very well.  Also, what am I buying then?  Only a lot of problems!  The [K-1] name is very strong, but I already have a good name.  I will keep my money in my pocket!

LK: You said you are talking with people around the world, and this looks like a huge year for you with new events in England, Germany, and Spain. Any details on those shows?

SR: Our schedule for the year is now: March 6 – Amsterdam, Holland; March 26 – Brussels, Belgium; May 14 – Lyon, France (not signed yet); May – Manheim, Germany (not signed yet); June 11 – Warsaw, Poland; July 23 – Sochi, Russia; August 27 – Sarajevo, Bosnia; September 18 – Amsterdam, Holland; September 24 – Manchester, England (not signed yet); October 8 – Geneva, Switzerland; End of December in Amsterdam for the It’s Showtime Christmas Edition again.  We are also talking about It’s Showtime events in Spain, Ukraine, and Australia.  As you see, we are really busy.  We have at least 10 big events this year, maybe 12.

LK: You know I have to ask – any further info on possibly running in the United States?

SR: I am getting more and more interest for It’s Showtime events in the US.  Last week, one of the TV stations from the US bought our It’s Showtime events, so that is starting.  I also am speaking with several people to see what the possibilities are in the US.  But when we start, we will start slowly with events for 2,000 people.

LK:  With all this expansion, where do you want It’s Showtime to be in 2 years?

SR: Pff......... 6 months ago I said that in 5 years It’s Showtime would organize between 15 and 20 events a year, but we are going so fast, maybe next year we will already be doing 15 events a year!

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of this interview as we discuss Remy Bonjasky’s retirement, Cosmo Alexandre, the Hesdy Gerges/Semmy Schilt controversy, and of course, Badr Hari.

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LiverKick.com Exclusive Andy Souwer Interview

Andy Souwer (C) Susumug.comThere aren't many kickboxers in the world that are as decorated as Andy Souwer is. Andy Souwer is a three time Shootboxing champion and a two time K-1 World MAX Champion, which in the world of Middleweight kickboxing is tremendous. Souwer is one of the few dominant fighters of the division, with his name forever etched in stone alongside the likes of Buakaw Por. Pramuk, Masato and most recently Giorgio Petrosyan. LiverKick caught up with Andy Souwer to discuss his relationship with K-1, what his future plans are in kickboxing and if he has his sights set on the world of MMA at all.

A big thanks to Team Souwer's manager Eddy Coutinho for setting up the interview as well as helping with the translations.

LiverKick.com: Have you ever had issues being paid by K-1?

Andy Souwer: K1 has paid everything they owed me. There are rumours about K1 not paying me, but that is not true. There was some delay in payment, but it happened.

LK: Were you surprised not to be invited to the MAX GP this year and how do you feel about K-1's future?

AS: I was very surprised not to be invited by K1. I won it twice and fought 4 finals. Very strange.

LK: What are your thoughts on his recent Pajonsuk fight?

AS: The fight was not exciting for the spectators. I was not totally recovered from my back injury and I had the feeling Panjunsuk did not really want to fight.

LK: How do you feel about facing Aussie Ouzgni?

AS: Aussie is the darkhorse in this fight, but he is very, very dangerous. He is very tall and has good knees and kicks. Aussie is not my favourite opponent, but to be the best you have to beat every opponent.

LK: How has your putting on mass in the past 3-4 years affected the way you train and prepare for fights? In particular, is it a large weight cut?

AS: Normally I walk around at 75 kg., so I only have to drop 5 kilo's. I am used to losing weight without losing strength, so it is no problem for me. I have a good team who helps me with training and advice.

After the break Souwer discusses his roots and future...

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