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Reports of Heavyweight Kickboxing’s Demise Have Been Exaggerated, Greatly

Badr HariThe news about Badr Hari, Gokhan Saki and Tyrone Spong’s imminent departures from the sport of Kickboxing behind to pursue other interests in the combat sports world has had the world talking about Heavyweight Kickboxing, but most of the discussion has not been complimentary, instead it has been gloom and doom. It is understandable to be upset over three big stars departing the world of Kickboxing; Saki and Hari for Boxing and Spong for MMA, because over the past few years they have been the golden standard of “young fighters” and shown a strong future for the sport. Yet the talk is that the well has gone dry, that there is no money in Kickboxing because of K-1’s financial distress and that elite talent will no longer look to Kickboxing as a viable career.

This is incredibly inaccurate and echoes a lot of the same sentiments that were heard about Boxing when MMA began to rise into prominence. Many were quick to declare Boxing as a dead sport or at least on a steady enough decline to where within a matter of years Mixed Martial Arts would completely over take it and no more young talent would turn to Boxing. Instead we’ve seen Boxing continue to march forward, new stars being developed and dominant fighters like Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, the Klitschko brothers and more steal headlines and attract more and more fans. MMA enthusiasts will argue that there are so few big Boxing PPVs that of course the big fights drawing in the million buys or more range makes sense, that UFC’s business model is to get consistent buys for lesser fights. Boxing fans would note that no UFC fighter outside of Brock Lesnar has the ability to draw mainstream interest or PPV buys like a Floyd Mayweather or a Manny Pacquiao can.

The truth is somewhere in the middle, where both sports are entirely different sports and can easily co-exist with there still being a wealth of talent in each sport. For Kickboxing the same is true. There is no doubt that as MMA grows it will attract some talented fighters who could have otherwise made a successful career in Kickboxing, Boxing or Muay Thai, but that does not mean that any sport will be run out of business or talent because of it. Each sport is distinctly different and some fighters find their calling and stick with it. Not every fighter has a passion for grappling like they do for stand up fighting, why would they jump to a sport like MMA where in the United States traditional wrestling dominates a lot of where the fights take place and how they are paced?

In Europe and Asia there is still strong support for Kickboxing and Muay Thai, with it built into the culture much like in the Midwestern United States strong wrestling programs are built into the culture and in urban areas of the United States youth Boxing programs are there. Children grow up learning how to Kickbox in the Netherlands, UK, Australia and many other countries, it is hard to imagine a sport like Kickboxing simply dying off because of a predominantly American sport like MMA is finally starting to create “millionaires” as Dana White has gone on record stating.

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K-1 Final 16 Update: K-1 Brokering Deal With Fighters for Half of Money Owed

K-1 WGP Final 16The K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16 is just over two weeks away now and there has been no card announced and from reports inside of fight camps from managers and fighters, there are no finalized contracts for the fights. It's Showtime's Simon Rutz made a deadline for K-1 to pay up, which was last Friday, when this came and went the deadline was apparently extended to Wednesday of this week. We've been in contact with Simon Rutz and other employees of It's Showtime who could confirm that were some financial problems and disagreements and were still waiting for their payments before they could move forward. There has been no word over the past two days from the It's Showtime camp, though. LiverKick.com reached out to some K-1 officials who had no further details for us other than thanking us for our patience and telling us just to wait a little bit longer and there should be an update.

Now there are reports coming out of the Netherlands that K-1 has been offering a "deal" that reads a lot like a settlement to fighters who would like to participate in the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16. The deal is for fighters to sign a contract by tomorrow, and that the contract waives a certain degree of K-1 and FEG's liability to fighters for past financial obligations. Signing this contract being offered by FEG assures the fighters a spot in the Final 16, but waives the fighter's right to half of the money that FEG owes the fighters, which in some cases will be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Only if those contracts are signed with FEG pay fighters any of the money that they owe, which begs the question of what happens to fighters like Ray Sefo and Alistair Overeem who are not looking to participate in the World Grand Prix this year but are owed a lot of money?

These reports line up with information that sources have told to LiverKick.com over the past few days, and it is not yet clear if this offer was extended to all fighters who were owed money, to just certain fighters or just to certain fighters that are part of management teams or fight camps that work with K-1. We'll provide more updates when they are available, but we could finally be getting some answers within the next few days.

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Badr Hari on Naazim Richardson: "Can't Wait to Work With Him"

Badr HariBadr Hari is steadfast in making his transition to the Heavyweight Boxing world, and it seems like Naazim Richardson has been chosen to be his main trainer by Mike Passenier and Hari himself. Yesterday we looked at an interview with Naazim where he talked about looking forward to working with Badr Hari, and it appears that FightHype has been busy working all sides of the spectrum as they put up an interview with Badr Hari himself. In the interview with Badr they discuss his yearly trip to Morocco, which is where he has been recently -- not with Brock Lesnar -- and how important his Muslim roots are to him. Badr also has a rather enlightened view of religion saying that it is a very personal thing that has been pushed upon other people and started wars.

Hari is looking forward to working with Naazim Richardson, though, and talks about how Naazim was selected as his trainer.

PC: When you come over to boxing, you are looking to work with Naazim Richardson. It was important to Mike Passenier that you trained under another Muslim as well as a guy like Naazim, who works with another guy with a street background. How important was that to you?

BH: That's not what he said. He said that it is an extra because he knows all the rituals etc. for being a Muslim. It is important to him that I have a trainer who is there for me, who can motivate me, and bring me to the top level; a trainer who brings out the best in me. And that is important to me too. I want to be number one. I don't come for second place; not in fighting and not by a trainer.

Hari also discusses his last fight in kickboxing with Gokhan Saki and dodges a lot of personal questions, read the rest of the interview here. Ominous by its absence is any discussion about fighting for K-1 again.

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Semmy Schilt; Possibly Not Invited to the World Grand Prix

Semmy SchiltWe are just two weeks away from the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16 and are still without any definitive announcement from K-1, including fight card, participants and possible television deals. If FEG were known to conduct business in any other way this would be incredibly alarming, but K-1 has always been known to make major announcements at the last minute, leaving everyone from the media, fans, managers and even fighters hanging, waiting for word.

An article came out today about Semmy Schilt, the four-time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion and currently LiverKick.com's #1 Ranked Heavyweight/Super Heavyweight Kickboxer. Our choice of Semmy Schilt has raised some questions, but with Alistair Overeem under a Zuffa contract and the one year mark rapidly approaching for Kickboxing inactivity it seems only fair to not include him, and Peter Aerts had stated that 2010 would be his last World Grand Prix, while Sem Schilt has made no public announcement about even considering retirement. If Peter Aerts does indeed participate in the K-1 World Grand Prix and Semmy Schilt does not, then we will indeed need to re-evaluate the Heavyweight/Super Heavyweight field, but until then it is up in the air.

This article stated that the four-time champion was not invited by K-1 to participate in the World Grand Prix, which for a fighter of his value would be a first. This is not news after seeing the leaked list of possible participants in the event, and the article does insinuate that It's Showtime's assistance might be a cause for Sem Schilt not being involved, with Golden Glory being his management, but there have been reports that Bas Boon and Golden Glory have been in talks with FEG since the event was announced, although nothing between the two parties has yet to materialize.

Sem Schilt would add instant credibility to the tournament and be one of the favorites to win the entire tournament if included, but as of press time it is not clear if we'll see Sem fighting for K-1 again or not. Odds are Schilt is on the long list of fighters yet to be paid by FEG, which could be causing some problems. [source]

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