Press Release by Monty DiPietro
Fight For Your Right to K-1
LAS VEGAS, August 11, 2006 — It’s one o’clock in the afternoon, and guests at the Bellagio Hotel are either pumping coins into slot machines, baking in the sun poolside or stuffing themselves at the sumptuous buffet. But not Alyssa Pockell. In the midst of a huddle of other fighters’ wives, girlfriends and buddies, Pockell is sitting on the floor of the Bellagio Convention Center, anxiously waiting.
“My boyfriend Gary and I saved up for this trip because we love K-1,” says Pockell. “We live in New Hampshire get all the television pay-per-views, but wanted to see these fights live. When we heard about the tryouts, we flew in early!”
Continuing its commitment to developing American fighting talent, K-1 is holding open tryouts in advance of this weekend’s Las Vegas World GP tournament event. Over 100 fighters have answered the call, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Patrick Barry and Dan Green, who earned spots on K-1 cards by impressing the organization at previous tryouts.
When Bonnefort emerges from the sparring room, a thin coat of perspiration covers his arms and legs and a smile covers his face.
“I fight professionally,” he says, “but I was still a little nervous trying out for K-1, sparring with people I didn’t know in front of strangers. But I got a few straight punches past my opponent’s guard, and an inside round kick in on one guy, so I’m happy!”
Stretching against a wall beside Bonnefort is Camrann Pacheko, a trim 24 year-old who made the six-hour drive down from Salt Lake City and is staying on the cheap at a motel on Fremont Street.
A fighter with a jiu-jitsu background, Pacheko works at a fighting gym back home. He is here to try out for K-1′s World Max (70kg/154 lbs) class. “My mom loves my interest in K-1,” he says, “but my dad, he’s different — I think he wishes I’d got into construction, like him. But this is my dream!”
Veterans Gary Goodridge, Tom Erikson and Akira Maeda are helping K-1 evaluate the talent. During a lunch break, Goodridge describes his criteria. “I’m a heart and power fighter,” he say, “so that’s what I’m looking for here. Anyone can learn skills, but you can’t learn heart.”
Jokes Erikson, “I’m also interested in seeing some technique as well as power, it’s kind of scary watching some of these guys stumbling round trying to throw punches without having their feet in the right place!”
Sven Bean is K-1 America’s Director of Fighter Development, the guy who, along with trusty sidekick Scotty McHugh, holds these tryouts together. Bean has an uncanny ability to transform a roomful of pumped-up fighters into something resembling a Sunday school class — quiet and respectful, punctuated only by the occasional “Yes sir,” and “I’m sorry.”
“We’re not expecting someone who will jump right in and win the Grand Prix,” says Bean, “we’re looking for diamonds in the rough, guys who can get in and fight in a tournament and work their way up through the ranks. There are a couple of guys I like so far, it’s going well!”
After all the notes are compiled and compared, K-1 will be contacting those who made the grade.