Right now Badr Hari is sitting inside of his not-so-comfortable jail cell in the Netherlands facing a January court date where he’ll be tried for attempted manslaughter, and what’s funny is that Hari didn’t have to be in that jail cell. All Badr had to do was stay away from going to places that serve alcohol and not talk to any of the witnesses in his upcoming trial, and he did both, so he’s back in prison where he will stay until his court date. Badr Hari is a case of wasted potential and one of the sport’s biggest stars sitting on the sidelines due to his own terrible decisions and how no one around him took the time to explain to him the gravity of his bad decisions, that or he refused to listen.
The more I think about it, the less I’m not convinced that I’m not talking about the sport of Kickboxing as a whole. I’m not longer talking about just one fighter making poor decisions, what I’m talking about is the sport’s biggest up-and-comer pissing away his life to play gangster and tough guy. Badr Hari is the type of fighter that MMA pundits “ooh” and “ahh”ed at openly, citing his skill, demeanor and that “big fight feel” that he brought with him. He has that aura about him that most fighters can only dream of, that aura that is comparable to what Mike Tyson brought to the ring with him in the 90’s. Part of what made that was how unpredictable he was in the ring, and how he felt “dangerous,” because honestly, Badr Hari is a dangerous person.
Kickboxing itself has a lot of potential and could be a huge, global sport that is well-respected and well-received, I believe more so than MMA and the UFC due to the fact that it is less “brutal” and more in line with the Boxing aesthetic, only with its roots in the Martial Arts world. Kickboxing could be huge, and could is the key word, but for right now we are facing a very odd and rather bleak future for Kickboxing. It is hard to argue that K-1 is in anything other than its death throes and that it has been since 2009, possibly even as far back as 2006 when they almost melted down (it was just less public). Kickboxing has been marred by organized crime involvement, non-payment issues that became giant public debacles, giant egos of those involved who are all grasping at straws to consider themselves the king of the mountain and fighters who are stuck with it all.
You could argue that Glory along with Marcus Luer and Pierre Andurand’s respective pocket books and business experience are going to usher in a new golden age for Kickboxing, but it is still yet-to-be-seen as we know that Glory events have yet to turn a profit and they’ve been having issues selling tickets for events. If anything, those are the growing pains of branding and possibly not doing enough promoting for the events. Building a new brand from the ground up is incredibly tough, especially for a group who thought that in 2012 they would be walking around with the K-1 brand, instead they were faced with the long process of building their own. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, though, as the K-1 brand is very much a tainted one in the eyes of the fans, the media and those in power in the industry. Then again, claiming a stake in DREAM and running a DREAM event on New Year’s Eve is no less of a “tainted” event, is it not?
Remember when MMA rode on the coattails of Kickboxing in Japan to help bolster its popularity, where now Glory feel they need to use MMA to springboard a Heavyweight Kickboxing tournament that a few years ago would have sold out the Saitama Super Arena on its own?
Kickboxing doesn’t have to be in this mess, just like Badr Hari doesn’t need to be in his jail cell right now, but yet there he is and here we are. I’m not sure if Badr Hari’s career can be saved, can the sport be saved?