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Remembering Mike Bernardo: The Greatest Rivalry

  • Written by Dave Walsh

The kickboxing world was jolted last year, February 14th, when news of K-1 fighter Mike Bernardo's death emerged from Muizenberg, South Africa. 

Bernardo had a reputation as one of the most fearsome heavyweights to ever compete in K-1. He compiled a list of devastating knockout wins over Peter Aerts, Francisco Filho, Glaube Feitosa, Stan Longinidis, Jorgen Kruth, Mirko Cro Cop, and Sergei Gur. But perhaps Bernardo's most memorable encounters were those with the 1996 K-1 Grand Prix Champion, Andy Hug.

From 1995-1997 Bernardo and Hug had a series of 4 awesome fights, with both men picking up two victories along the way. Only a single match out of the four went to a decision. Without a doubt it was one of the most storied kickboxing rivalries of the '90's. 

Bernardo often found himself in the role of the villian when squaring off against Hug, and he certainly could look the part. Large, imposing, and bald- Bernardo's signature ferocity in the ring ran directly counter with that of Hug's. Bernardo frowned, Hug smiled. Bernardo entered in a black boxing robe, Hug entered in a white karate gi. The two men naturally played off the personalities and ringmanship of the other, and Mike Bernardo soon became an internationally known, larger than life K-1 superstar because of it. 

In honor of "Beru-chan's" historic achievements within kickboxing, and his contribution to the development of the sport as a whole, let's take a moment to look back at K-1 Revenge II in 1995, when Bernardo faced off against Hug for the second time. Earlier in the year Bernardo had shocked Japan by KO'ing Kyokushin's golden boy in the second round of the '95 Grand Prix Opening Battle. This fight was set to be Hug's "revenge" as the name of the show implied, but Bernardo had different plans.


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