After a year of speculation about if and when the revered kickboxing and MMA promotion would pack it in, it appears that the financially troubled organization may be living on borrowed time.
IT’S SHOWTIME president Simon Rutz shed some light on the current state of the former Japanese kickboxing powerhouse who has made more headlines the past couple years due to the fact that it hasn’t paid many of its champions like Alistair Overeem and Bibiano Fernandes.
According to Rutz, K-1 officials are scrambling to find potential investors an/or a buyer for the struggling franchise, which he says has run out of money. As such, they have decided to cancel the finals of the K-1 heavyweight grand prix after reportedly telling fighters a week ago that they would only be paid a portion of money owed to them and that their participation in the tournament would have to come at a reduced price.
Check out Rutz’s state of the K-1 union address below:
Because there is no information regarding the new start of K-1 coming from Japan, I will clarify the situation for everyone.
FEG, the parent company of the former K-1 brand, is technically bankrupt. The name K-1 lays now at the Japanese company Barbizon. There are 2 serious parties now, which try to pull the K-1 brand name towards themselves and place this in a new company.
The first one to find an investor is FEG’s president, Mr. Tanikawa. He has found a Korean investor who has big plans with the K-1 label. This investor claims to have a verbal agreement with Mr. Ishii and Barbizon regarding the takeover of the K-1 label. Details were already discussed and agreed upon, but the only missing thing is the necessary signature of Mr. Ishii.
The second one to find a potential investor is Bas Boon. He has found an American company which also has big opportunities to bring the K-1 brand to high levels. However, also this company needs the signature of Mr. Ishii.
In the meanwhile, even a third potential investor has reported itself to take over the K-1 label, but this investor has presented itself only a couple of days ago.
All three companies have big plans to bring the K-1 label back to the place where it belongs and therefore make sure that the brand of K-1 has a healthy future.
All investors understand that a good cooperation with IT’S SHOWTIME is essential to prevent future conflicts of interest and to make sure that in the future all world elite fighters will participate to the tournaments; that means the fighters of both IT’S SHOWTIME as the ones of Golden Glory. We from IT’S SHOWTIME support the plans to make the K-1 label a strong brand again, because this is in the best interest of the sport, the fighters and the millions of fans around the world.
• This year there will be no K-1 Final Elimination and K-1 World Grand Prix Final for the following reasons:
• It’s currently unknown which investor gets Mr. Ishii’s signature
• There’s not enough time left to organize such a big event
• The visas for the fighters to travel to China haven’t been arranged and these are essential to be able to fight there
• The decision to not rush into crazy things is a wise one, because severe mistakes that could cause more unnecessary damage to the K-1 label are being prevented.
From next year there will be a new and healthy company that will work on the worldwide brand of K-1.
For the fighters who were already preparing to fight on October 29 in China this will be a hard pill to swallow, but on the other hand, these developments offer enough perspective to positively look ahead to the future.
I hope I have answered the many questions and to have clarified these matters.
Looking at the situation from an objective opinion, things don’t look good for K-1, especially when many of its stars like Overeem, Badr Hari and Gokhan Saki have recently decided to leave the kickboxing world in favor of MMA and boxing. Without big name stars, kickboxing may suffer the same shift in popularity of fans over to MMA that boxing has experienced in recent years, which is too bad for those of us who enjoy the sport and having some variety.