Something is stirring in the muddy waters of the K-1 kickboxing world.
A partnership has been formed between Golden Glory and Total Sports Asia to pay off the debts owed by FEG, parent company of K-1, to some of its biggest-name fighters. In exchange, the fighters have signed exclusive contracts with Glory.
Thus far the deals have been signed with four fighters who already owe their allegiance to Golden Glory - Semmy Schilt, Gokhan Saki, Errol Zimmerman and Sergei Chariton - and so the news does not at first glance seem so surprising.
But until now, Golden Glory had taken the stance that the monies owed by FEG were outside its remit and whilst the team had paid certain sums to its fighters to alleviate the problems of outstanding payments, it has now taken responsibility for the entirety of the debt.
In the process, the four fighters have now severed their deals with FEG and are signed exclusively to the promotion off-shoot of Golden Glory known as the ‘Glory World Series’. The four names will be competing on March 23rd at the first Glory event of 2012, taking place in Moscow, Russia and featuring bouts under K-1 rules.
Schilt and Kharitonov are already confirmed for the card, as is a match between Errol Zimmerman vs Jerome Le Banner. Rising talent Robin van Roosmalen, Igor Jurkovic (Croatia) and Maxim Vorovski all have K-1 rules matches while Denis Stojnic will compete under MMA rules.
The significance of Golden Glory/TSA paying off the outstanding debts to the four FEG fighters is that it is fully intended to act as a lure for other big-name fighters who are outside the Golden Glory camp but want to get back to earning good money for kickboxing.
According to Golden Glory managing director Bas Boon, the new partnership has a total of $1 million invested in this year’s Glory World Series. There will be 70 kilo and 85 kilo weight categories with a total of $300,000 prize money in each and a heavyweight category with a total purse value of $400,000.
“Putting up one million dollars for these three tournaments as prize money will spring new life into the sport of Kickboxing. The partnership believes that 2012 will be the rebirth for stand-up striking combat and the sport will take its deserved position alongside the ever growing sport of MMA,” Boon says.
“The partnership recently signed and paid the outstanding money to key fighters… As expected many other fighters have shown interest to sign exclusive deals in hopes to get reimbursed for their FEG outstanding payments as well as having future fights with this new powerhouse promotion.
“I’m sure Aerts, Petrosyan, Buakaw Por Pramuk, Jaideep, Texiera and others will soon follow and sign agreements so that Kickboxing can become an international force again and resurrect the history and glory of K-1.”
The open naming of Petrosyan and Por Pramuk is a subtle declaration of war by Boon. Petrosyan was signed to K-1 and Its Showtime, although his connection with the latter was severed recently due to monies owed. Por Pramuk is a mainstay of K-1 MAX and poaching him, or Petrosyan, would be a huge feather in the cap for Glory World Series.
K-1 has been on hiatus for much of 2011 because of the severe financial difficulties being suffered by its parent company FEG. Once the crown prince of the fighting world, FEG has been reduced to pauper status and has little in the way of assets bar the K-1 name and the goodwill associated with it.
There has been an internal battle going on at K-1 for a long time between the founder, Mr Ishii, and the company president Mr Tanigawa. According to Fighters Only sources, this battle will be resolved in the fairly near future. Ishii has thrown his lot in with Golden Glory while Tanigawa, who many fans blame for the decline of K-1, has sought the help of a Japanese-Korean figure known only as Mr Kim.
Golden Glory is well known in the martial arts world but Total Sports Asia will be a new name to many. Founded in 1997, it is a sports marketing agency with a focus on the Far East. It holds the Asia rights for the US Tennis Open, the world rights for AIBA international amateur boxing and the Asia rights for the French and Spanish top-tier soccer leagues.