Press Release by Monty DiPietro for K-1
OSAKA, December 30, 2006 — It is early afternoon, and 26 kickboxers, judo and karate masters, boxers, wrestlers, Olympic medalists and television personalities sit at a two-tier table stretching the width of the Osaka Imperial Hotel’s ballroom. There are hungry up-and-comers and seasoned veterans and revered champions, hailing from 10 different countries. Today they are gentlemen, dressed in suits, posing for the cameras and politely answering reporters’ questions. Tomorrow they will be warriors, stepping into the Osaka Dome ring to fight in front of a live and television audience numbering in the tens of millions. The countdown to New Year’s Eve has begun, and with it comes the K-1 Premium Dynamite — the most widely-watched martial arts extravaganza in the world.
Like mochi rice cakes and temple bells, Dynamite has become an integral part of the New Year’s Eve tradition in Japan, appealing equally to martial arts purists and dabblers, appealing even to grandma and grandpa. The 13 bouts will be fought mostly under Hero’s mixed martial arts rules, with a quartet to be contested under K-1 rules (3min x 5R).
The main event will be a 85kg/187lbs showdown between Japanese fighters Yoshihiro Akiyama, who has brought a judo background to mixed martial arts to capture this year’s Hero’s Light Heavyweight Championship; and Kazushi Sakuraba, whose tremendous achievements in mixed martial arts, not least of which his success against the world-famous Gracie clan, have made him into a living legend.
Sakuraba, still known as “The IQ Wrestler” for the strategies he brings to the ring, surprised the assembled media by making his remarks in what sounded like Portuguese. Pressed by reporters to clarify, he joked “Well, it was Portuguese, but, just the words I know, like ‘fried egg’ or ‘piece of chicken’ and that sort of thing.” Both he and Akiyama said they were delighted to be in the main event here and would endeavor to make a great fight of it.
Of special interest to K-1 fans, there was a surprise addition to the card announced today — Defending K-1 World Grand Prix Champion Semmy Schilt of Holland will step in against Aussie kickboxer Peter Graham.
Schilt is a big man of few words: “I’m glad to be the champ, and will show a great fight.”
Said Graham: “It is an honor to fight champ, I have been training with Nicholas Pettas and am thankful for all the support, and I will do my best!”
That same Nicholas Pettas, the Danish karate great who has not competed in K-1 since breaking his leg in a bout with Sergei Gur back in 2002, will make his long-awaited return tomorrow in a K-1 rules bout against Dutch bad boy Badr Hari.
“It’s been a long time, glad to see everyone again,” said Pettas in Japanese. “In the spirit of the ‘Dynamite’ theme, I want to really show my worth as a fighter tomorrow.”
Said Hari: “I had some good and some bad this year, I learned a lot and grew a little! I know that after tomorrow’s event, half the guys here will be happy, and half will be crying in their beds because they lost. I plan to be among those celebrating!”
In other K-1 rules matchups, it will be 2003 World Max Champion Masato of Japan fighting hard-hitting compatriot Satoru Suzuki; and Japan’s best heavyweight, Musashi, taking on the power-first Randy Kim of South Korea.
Hero’s bouts will of course be the focus. Featured fights include a couple of contests featuring the Ologun brothers, who hail from Nigeria and have carved out a niche on Japanese television shows. Andy, the younger, will tango with another television personality, Ken Kaneko of Japan; while Bobby, who has had remarkable success in the last two Dynamite events, dispatching Cyril Abidi and former Sumo Grand Champion Akebono, will face another big challenge in behemoth Hong Man Choi in the Korean K-1 fighter’s mixed martial arts debut.
Explained Ologun in the broken Japanese that has become his shtick: “My opponent is big and strong, so my strategy is to eat as much as possible so I can get strong as well!”
Said Choi: ‘It’s my first Dynamite and first mixed martial arts fight, I will make a good start.”
Speaking of behemoths, Akebono will be back at it tomorrow, lumbering in against the 224cm/7’4″ Brazilian Giant Silva. Who knows what will become of this one.
Those looking for technique over brawn will be watching the bout between explosive Japanese fighter Genki Sudo and Jackson Page of the USA; and the match between Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto of Japan, currently in training for the ’08 Beijing Olympics, and Hungarian Istvan Majoros, who won the Olympic gold in Greco-Roman Wrestling at the ’04 Games.
Said Majoros, who will be making his mixed martial arts debut: “I know Kid is excellent in these rules, so I will do my best!”
The Kid told the media he wanted to “win fast, then get home to my daughter.”
Royler Gracie will represent Brazil’s foremost fighting family in a match against the aggressive Hideo Tokoro of Japan.
Tokoro: “It’s an honor to be part of this event, I will try to make my fight the best of all!”
Gracie: “I don’t like to spend too much time in the ring, I want to win then go out and celebrate the New Year!”
Also on the card, the masked Japanese pro wrestler Tokimitsu “Kendo Kashin” Ishizawa will face Seidokaikan fighter Taiei Kin, also of Japan; Katsuhiko Nagata of Japan will meet countryman Shuichiro Katsumura; and Korean Dong Wook Kim will take on Yukiya Naito of Japan.
The K-1 Premium Dynamite event will be broadcast live on New Year’s Eve on the TBS network in Japan, and in South Korea on MBC-ESPN. Delayed pay-per-view broadcasts will be available in some 50 countries, check with local providers for scheduling details. As always, find comprehensive post-event coverage on the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp)