It takes more than just passion to create a successful Kickboxing promotion, sadly. If all it took was passion, I'd be running a Kickboxing organization that is without rival and would leave people in awe. No, it takes more than just passion, it takes a lot of things, with one of the most important pieces of the puzzle being money. When Glory Sports International was announced, it was clear they were embarking on the daunting journey of creating a whole new brand in a sport that has been dominated by one brand for almost twenty years now. The organization is bolstered by members of the Golden Glory team as well as the Total Sports Asia team, with one other big piece of the puzzle coming into the picture in the form of superstar investor Pierre Andurand. Pierre not only brings with him success as an investor, funding and business sense, but he also brings with him pure passion for the sport.
LiverKick.com caught up with Mr. Andurand to discuss his move into the Kickboxing world as well as what fans should be on the lookout for from Glory.
LiverKick: So you are best known for running BlueGold, an oil-oriented hedge fund, and helping to run a Kickboxing empire is a vast departure from that. What prompted you to invest in the sport of Kickboxing?
Pierre Andurand: Yes indeed it is a very different project. But being good at investing/trading is mainly about recognising good opportunities and understanding risk and reward. I think the sport of kickboxing has a lot of potential, actually, more than the other combat sports (MMA, boxing, wrestling, etc.). It is fast, technical, and very exciting. So far no organisation managed to exploit its true potential. I closed BlueGold in April this year for other reasons, and right now I am 100% focused on getting the right vision, the right team, and the right partners in GLORY. I do believe by the end of the year GLORY will not need my involvement on a full-time basis anymore, and I’ll just take a step back and let the team run the organisation, even though I will still oversee it and make sure we go in the right direction. I will remain involved in major decisions to some extent, but I will not be running the company. I am I think the right person to understand the potential, and to put the right pieces together, but I would not be the right person to run it on a day by day basis. We are putting a world-class team together.
LK: We understand that you are a big fan of Kickboxing, tell us a bit about how you got into Kickboxing; like which event was the first one that really made you a fan, which fighters caught your eye at first.
PA: I started practising martial arts about 10 years ago when I was living in Asia. I did some Muay Thai, then Shaolin Wushu, and then Muay Thai again and kick boxing. I started watching it on TV actively in 2005. The first big event I watched was the K1 WGP final in 2005. I was then hooked. It was such a great event. I love the tournament format. I was very impressed by Semmy Schilt, the way he destroyed his opponents with such ease. I was scared for them. They really looked like they didn’t have a chance. People say he has an unfair advantage being so tall, but they don’t realise that he is incredibly fast and precise for his height too, and very technical. He clearly is the man to beat, still today. I also loved Remy Bonjasky’s style, in and outside of the ring.
LK: Who do you feel is the best Kickboxer of all-time? How about the best active Kickboxer right now?
PA: In Heavyweight, clearly Semmy Schilt, best active, and best of all-time. But Peter Aerts is also a legend, and one of the very select few who managed to beat Semmy. I am very impressed by his heart and longevity. He was at the top of the sport from 17 years old to 42 years old. He’s very unique in that way. I think he can still be one of the very best. Remy Bonjasky is also a legend. And in 70kilos max, Ramon Dekkers is I think the best of all-time. Right now the best active kickboxer in 70 kilos is Giorgio Petrosyan. He is so talented, precise, fast and technical, it is a real treat to watch him fight. He shows that this sport is an art. He makes a fight look like a dance.
LK: What is the one fight that you feel is the biggest in the Heavyweight division and in the 70kg division right now?
PA: I think Semmy Schilt vs Daniel Ghita in Heavyweight, and Petrosyan vs Van Roosmalen in 70kgs.
LK: So what exactly is your role/title and responsibilities within the Glory Sports International organization? Can you give us some insight into the organizational structure of Glory Sports International?
PA: I am the Chairman of the Board of Directors and I am the majority investor. My responsibilities are mainly to set the vision, help build the right team, find the right partners for GSI, and oversee things at a high level. It is already a large team, but it is still work in progress. So far Marcus Luer, CEO of Total Sports Asia is the Managing Director of GSI. The Golden Glory management team: Bas Boon, Cor Hemmers, Martijn De Jong and Bert Van Der Ryd are part of the team. Simon Rutz and Remon Daalder from It’s Showtime are also part of the team. Simon and Bert will work in production. Cor, Bas, Remon, Martijn will work on matchmaking, scouting, developing new talents, developing gym franchise, basically everything that has to do with the sport itself. We also have many other people involved in marketing, media etc…
LK: The Glory World Series has already started for the 70kg class, yet the purchase of It's Showtime and many of their fighters transferring to Glory puts you in an odd spot. Do you plan on integrating some of these fighters into the Glory World Series tournament somehow, or will they have to wait until next year?
PA: Some of them will be integrated in super fights events right away, and then in the next tournaments. We intend to do two tournaments per year per weight category, and 6 super fight events next year. We will also add other weight categories over time. So you can expect 10 events in 2013, and 13+ in 2014 onwards.
LK: Can you tell us what fighters that you know for sure have carried over into Glory?
PA: I can’t say it for now, as it’s still work in progress. But I’m confident we will end up with all the very best fighters in the world eventually.
LK: Do you feel that the US market is a viable one for Kickboxing and for Glory?
PA: Definitely. It is going to be about having the right approach, and using the right marketing strategy. I’m very confident in the product. I think it could become the most popular fighting sport in the US in 3 years time.
LK: Lastly, where do you envision Glory Sports International heading in five years?
PA: I envision GLORY becoming an iconic brand that most people will know about. The aim is to bring the sport of kickboxing to the next level, with fighters and fans from all over the world. We also want to broaden the fan base, and bring great entertainment and glamour to the sport. I could see it becoming a multi-billion dollars company within 5 years.