by MMAWeekly.com Staff
AAA Kickboxing Academy, the Modesto, California-based martial arts training ground that plays home to 2003 K-1 USA champion, Carter Williams, will pose a strong presence in Hawaii when it brings Williams as well as a pair of new prospects in Marcus “XL” Royster and Dustin Hanning to the K-1 “World Grand Prix 2005 in Hawaii” mega-event will take place at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium and premiere
on Pay Per View television on Sunday, July 31st.
Williams and Royster will make their respective starts on opposite ends of the card’s eight-man, single elimination tournament draw. Hanning will take part in a tournament reserve bout that injects its winner into the event’s main draw should an injury prevent one of the original eight contestants from re-entering the ring after earning a
victory in a previous round.
“I want to get back on top of things,” said the 26-year-old Williams, whose tournament win in Las Vegas, Nevada two years ago represents AAA’s first K-1 trophy to date. During the opening tournament round in Hawaii, Williams will face the winner of Japan’s 2004 K-1 Grand Prix tournament, Hiromi Amada. “I want us all to do good. I’ve been training well for this fight and I’m pretty much on key.”
For his part, Royster, a 6 foot 8 inch, 318 pound, monstrous physical specimen, will take on another powerhouse in famed boxing novelty, Eric “Butterbean” Esch. Royster’s background in professional sports includes a stint with the New England Patriots during the 1997-1998 NFL season. He was discovered by the K-1 organization last year during its first-ever open fighter tryouts.
The 23-year-old Hanning made his K-1 fighting debut during the April 30th “Battle at Bellagio IV” fight card in Las Vegas. On only a single day’s notice, Hanning, who had originally traveled to Sin City to provide moral support to tournament contestant Williams, accepted a spot in reserve bout competition after one of the original reservists withdrew immediately beforehand. “I jumped at the chance
because, sometimes, it never comes twice,” said Hanning. “I realize I was fresh, but still gave it my all, which I now realize should have been more. But that comes with experience.”
The unique scenario of having three of his protégés compete in the same tournament leaves AAA owner and head trainer Gene Fields susceptible to a possible meeting between two of them at some point in the event. The risk, however, is one that both he and the fighters are willing to take.
“It’s all business in the ring and (everyone else) knows that too,” explained Royster. “Our coach, Mr. Fields, always reminds us that it could happen some day. Everyone understands that and we’re still bros outside and there’s never any animosity amongst the ranks.”
The Honolulu tournament will be stacked with an abundance of other knockout artists, including K-1 “Battle at Bellagio IV” tournament runner-up, “Big Daddy” Gary Goodridge, and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Rumble On The Rock veteran, Wesley “Cabbage” Correira.
The Pay Per View event will also see former UFC welterweight crown holder, B.J. Penn, take on Renzo Gracie in a featured mixed martial arts rules bout. Two K-1 rules “Superfights” will pit four-time Japan “Grand Prix” tournament winner Musashi against Sweden’s Richard Nordstrand and sumo wrestling legend Chad “Akebono” Rowand opposite
K-1 “World Grand Prix 2005 in Seoul” tournament winner, Hong Man Choi, respectively.
K-1 “World Grand Prix 2005 in Hawaii” will premiere on both InDemand and DirecTV at 9 PM Eastern Standard Time (6 PM Pacific Standard Time) on July 31st and will air for a period of three hours.
K-1 is a martial arts fighting sport that derives its name from its inclusion of a wide array of combat disciplines, including Karate, Kung-Fu, and Kickboxing (“K”), and its intent to determine one champion in one ring (“1”). After being staged for the first time in Japan in 1993 under the direction of founder Master Kazuyoshi Ishii, it later evolved into the country’s most popular sport and achieved
popular culture status there as its athletes turned into