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LiverKick Throwback: Buakaw vs. Masato K-1 World MAX Finals 2004

  • Published in K-1

The world of kickboxing has a rich history to fall back upon so we here at LiverKick figure, why not? Why not give a glimpse into some of the fights from the past that have made up this wonderful sport and tie it all in to the present. The kids on the Instagram and Twitter like to call Thursdays "Throwback Thursdays," I'm just going to say that this is a LiverKick Throwback.

Let's travel back in time now, all the way back to 2004. Yes, 2004, almost exactly ten years ago to the day, on July 7th, 2004. The K-1 World MAX Finals were the hottest ticket in town since Masato's win in the first ever tournament back in 2002 and Buakaw Banchamek (formerly Por. Pramuk) vs. Masato was the fight that everyone was clawing to see. They were the best of the best; Masato representing the Japanese bushido spirit and Buakaw the best that Thailand had to offer (regardless of your opinion, he was the best in kickboxing at the time). 

This fight was everything that K-1 was meant to embody; Japan vs. Thailand, the foreigner vs. the hometown hero and it delivered in spades. We can look back upon this fight and marvel at the display, the heart and fortitude shown and how K-1 saw Buakaw as a threat to their Japanese-centric MAX brand. This fight was the poor kid from Thailand against the groomed mega-star of Japan and it is beautiful. 

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Sung-Hyun Lee Isn't Afraid of Buakaw Banchamek

  • Published in K-1

K-1

This weekend Buakaw Banchamek will square off against Korea's Sung-Hyun Lee in the K-1 World MAX Final Four event. This event is scheduled for February 23rd and will air on http://www.k-1.tv via a free stream. No doubt that this is a huge fight for Sung-Hyun Lee, who was competing at 65kg previously before deciding to move up to 70kg in 2013 and enter the K-1 World MAX tournament. Now he has reached the coveted Final Four and will fight the legendary Buakaw Banchamek, but don't color him scared, because he's not. [source]

"In a lot of ways Buakaw is a fighter with basic patterns. He has a lot of power but his combinations are easy to predict. He does not have the technical ability or combination punching of European fighters like Andy Souwer. I feel my style matches up better with Buakaw than those fighters.

I am not that worried about his power. In 2009 I fought a Thai fighter named Ping Poongkwa. I remember his body kicks felt like being hit by a steel pipe. I fought a lot of other Thais but none of them had that kind of serious power. I feel people are just afraid of Buakaw because of his “name”."

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K-1 Postpones World MAX Show in Thailand

  • Published in K-1

If the only news that you pay attention to is fighting sports you might not have known that there is currently a bit of political upheaval in Thailand right now. In fact, there was a military coup that went down just days ago, leaving some areas of Thailand under strict military presence. Not all, though, some areas are untouched. Pattaya, where K-1 is planning their K-1 World MAX Finals event, happens to be one of the places under strict curfew. 

K-1 has been monitoring the situation and along with their partners in Thailand have decided to postpone the event for the time being. It might not be until July, but two months for a nation to get itself in order after a government is overthrown is a bit quick and they will wait out the situation before booking another event there. Kind of a bummer, we know, but it seems like the right call for this one. 

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K-1's Ned Kuruc Talks Amateur Open and K-1 World MAX Finals

  • Published in Interviews

Since the formation of K-1 Global there have been some ups and downs for the K-1 name, but we’ve definitely all come to a consensus that under K-1’s current management they want the best for the brand and for the sport. K-1 is set to continue pushing forward over the next few month with a few events that will look to solidify the brand’s place in the current market for kickboxing. The first is in September in the UK, being touted as an open amateur scouting event. We’ve spoken with Ned Kuruc of K-1 a few times before and he’s spoken about how important they feel that an amateur system is for the future of the sport and this Amateur Open is just further proof of that. The second event is, of course, the K-1 World MAX Finals, where Buakaw Banchamek will compete against Enriko Kehl and other great fights.

We caught up with Ned Kuruc to discuss both of these events as well as the future of K-1. The first thing is that K-1 will be holding an Amateur Open on the 13th and 14th of September in the UK, which has attracted a lot of attention thus far. “As of right now we’ve had 500 inquiries and 50 countries have shown interest. We don’t really have hard numbers on this yet because the deadline is September 2nd. Tons of interest shown already, though.”

How does it play into the future of K-1, though? K-1 has always been the home of the top level of fighters, so it is an interesting turn to shift some of their focus to the future. “There is a bit of a generation gap -- or a generation loss -- and I believe that through the amateur system that it’s the best way to get the K-1 brand associated with kids that are coming up and for all martial arts. K-1 isn’t just about kickboxing, it’s about martial arts and it’s a platform for those involved to test their skills and see who is the best in the world. With that being said, the amatuer system is, what I feel, is the best way to get the brand associated with those up-and-coming fighters and kids who don’t remember K-1 like you or I do.

“Not only is this a good way for us to raise brand awareness across generations right now, but there are a lot of fighters out there who want to test their skills. K-1 is a high, high level, it’s the pinnacle of standup sports. There are amatuer groups out there that already have K-1 rules and make champions in these weight classes. K-1 is okay with that, because it is a sport unto itself. Our brand is its own sport,” he explains. “In the past no one has wanted to venture into amatuer sports. Just like when K-1 was founded, we want this to be an open tournament where we really are able to find the best fighters from across the world to compete under the K-1 banner.”

It’s a point that will ring true for fans of K-1, where the K-1 concept originally started under the premise of pulling all of the best fighters from across the world together under one banner and to have them compete against each other. As with anything else, though, it was a business and building stars became the main focus. So the scene began to only host the top few names year-in and year-out, which was exciting, but may have led to excluding other talents who were coming up through the ranks of amateur and professional leagues but couldn’t break into K-1 because fans in Japan wanted to see the names that they knew and loved.

“We want to give opportunities to the best fighters out there. The old K-1 was a bit of an old boys club where if you didn’t have the right management or the right trainers you’d never get that opportunity to compete in K-1. I’m not saying that it was a bad system,” he adds. “They were the best managers and trainers in the world and they produced some of the best fighters. But now we have Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and all of that with the internet and a fighter can post a video of themselves and send it to us and some doors might open up for him. This Amateur Open is for my team and myself to be able to physically see some of these fighters and get them involved with K-1. It’s a direct feeder system. We’re also willing to work with professional fighters who haven’t had a chance before, if you look at our cards we’ve given a lot of young, up-and-coming talent a chance on a bigger stage. Some have done really well and others haven’t, this is how you can really find the best fighters in the world.”

K-1 understands that their brand, name and rules are important in the world of kickboxing and have been adopted throughout the world. They aren’t looking to strip that away from anyone, because they feel that the sport of K-1 has taken on a life of its own, which they are willing to use to their advantage in promoting the brand of K-1. They look at K-1’s rules and see so many amateur events and championships around the globe that even see a possibility for K-1 to be considered an Olympic sport at some point, although not in the near future. This, looking towards building up a strong amateur feeder system, is a good first step. K-1 wants you to know that they aren’t just a brand, but they are a sport.

K-1 is now focused on Thailand, though, where K-1 will present the very first K-1 event on Thai soil in October. The show is the K-1 World MAX Finals where Buakaw Banchamek and Enriko Kehl will fight for the K-1 World MAX Championship, a title that the winner will wear proudly and defend as K-1 moves away from the yearly tournament format. 

“A lot of things had to fall in place for this to happen,” Ned explains. “First was Buakaw fighting for the championship. It’s a lot more evenly-matched fight than people think that it is, but when the officials from Thailand were talking with us, we understood how important it was to have a star like Buakaw on the card. It would mean a lot to Thai fans to see Buakaw win a K-1 title in Thailand, if he can get by Enriko, that is. We had to be creative in making this show happen. Everyone who works in this sport only tries to work with other people who work within the sport, which isn’t always the right way to do things.

“From what I’ve seen in my time with K-1, they generally aren’t the best business people. When I try to work with people I try to work with people who aren’t just in fighting and promoting. We try to work with entertainment companies and legitimate businesses. The group, people that I’m working with on this show aren’t in the fight game. They are from the business world in Thailand, so I had a different approach and it’s worked. This should be a very, very exciting show.”

The topic of the direction of the sport of kickboxing came up after last week I wrote about a growing movement among fans to err on the side of negativity for the outlook of the sport. “In my opinion, at this certain point, it’s gotten the most exposure that it has. We’re in the age of the internet, which helps. As far as K-1, it’s no secret that we are in a rebuilding phase. That’s my job, to rebuild it. Some people might think that it’s been a slow process or that it’s taken too long, but we’re in a very definite transition phase in kickboxing and the sport of K-1. You have K-1, who is still in the game, but yeah, we are a bit slower. Time will tell how my strategy unfolds. 

“Then you have other organizations, you have GLORY who have been putting a lot of money into their shows. They have a lot of talent, great production, but it’s not much of a business plan. Am I a fan of their product? Absolutely. Would I do things the way that they are doing it? Absolutely not, it just doesn’t seem like it’s a viable business plan that can go on for years. I just wouldn’t do it that way. You have other promotions like Enfusion that are doing a good job, you have SuperKombat, Rise, KRUSH. There are a lot of organizations out there, the problem that I have is that I have a massive brand and that I have to do it properly,” Ned explains. “My ideology is to not keep throwing millions of dollars into a show to generate small revenue. I think that there are a few organizations that are playing monkey-see, monkey-do with the UFC and I don’t think that is the proper way to do things.

“Kickboxing doesn’t sell PPVs. We know that, I feel like we’ve always known that. People have tried, but it just won’t work. That means that you can’t copy the UFC model because they are all about PPV. That’s where their revenue comes from. My idea is that it has to be done in steps, it has to be built, you need a foundation. If you look at the brands that have existed for years and not just a few before going away. That’s how K-1 has existed for so long. I feel that kickboxing is in a good state, generally, I would just hate to see some of the organizations make mistakes and go away. The way I see it, the more the merrier, the more that the sport is built up. It only helps all of us in the long run.”

The K-1 World MAX Finals takes place on October 11th in Pattaya, Thailand and the K-1 Amateur Open takes place on September 13th and 14th in the UK. For more information visit http://www.k-1.tv/

 

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Video: Watch Buakaw Banchamek Dismantle Zhang Chunyu

  • Published in Video

If I were to describe Buakaw Banchamek's 2014 it would probably be in one word; active. Buakaw fought for the fifth time this year yesterday in Belarus at the Top King World Series event in the first part of a huge 70kg tournament. He fought Chinese fighter Zhang Chunyu in the first round of this tournament and pretty much dominated him, as you'd probably expect. Check out the video below for all of your Buakaw squashing dudes needs.

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K-1 Announces World MAX Final Card for Oct. 11th in Pattaya

  • Published in K-1

On October 11th in Pattaya, Thailand, K-1 will present their K-1 World MAX Finals event. The event will crown a K-1 World MAX Champion, who will serve as K-1's king of the 70kg division and defend the title in the coming years. The tournament began last year with a strong group of sixteen fighters from across the world before coming down to two-time K-1 World MAX Champion Buakaw Banchamek and German up-and-comer Enriko Kehl. Kehl will be facing Buakaw for a second time now, the first fight happening in December and Banchamek getting the better of him in Thai rules. 

The show also features the debut of Paul "Semtex" Daley, best known for his runs in UFC and Bellator, but who has made a huge impact on the kickboxing world this year with four huge KO wins over top competition. This is one of the better K-1 cards that we've seen in a while and should be pretty exciting.

K-1 World MAX Final: Buakaw Banchamek vs. Enriko Kehl
Paul “Semtex” Daley vs. Mohammad Ghaedibardeh
Rungravee Sasiprapa vs. Dennis Puric
Andrei Kubelin vs. Lee Sung Hyun
Maximo Suarez vs. Tural Bayramov
Andre “Dida” Amade vs. Li Yankun
Artem Pashporin vs. Petmongkol Thor. Thesputin
Xei Lei vs. Yoshimoto

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K-1 World MAX Final Gets New October Date

  • Published in K-1

Legendary kickboxing promotion K-1 has announced a new date for their K-1 World MAX Final event in Pattaya, Thailand. Originally scheduled for July, K-1 ran into issues due to the recent political coup in Thailand. Part of the issue was being a foreign promoter looking to enter into a climate that is not usually friendly to outside promoters during a period of turmoil and so many internal changes. K-1 has worked with the local Thai government to acquire the proper licensing and the K-1 World MAX Finals will happen on October 4th, 2014 in Pattaya, Thailand.

The event will feature the K-1 World MAX Finals, crowning a new champion in their 70kg MAX division between Buakaw Banchamek and Enriko Kehl.

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