In less than a week, K-1 superstar Badr Hari will make his return to the world of kickboxing after an extended layoff which was borne of troubles both in and outside the ring. Our series highlighting important moments in the career of Badr Hari continues with Hari's in-ring transgressions, beginning with his blatant fouling of Remy Bonjasky at the 2008 K-1 World Grand Prix.
By the end of 2008, Badr Hari had established himself as one of the most dangerous strikers actively competing. Three years into his K-1 career, Hari had earned the distinction of being K-1's inaugural heavyweight belt holder by defeating Yusuke Fujimoto in Hawaii in 2007. He went on to avenge an earlier loss at the hands of Peter Graham, eventually earning his way into his first World GP that December. Hari advanced to the quarterfinals before being bested by Remy Bonjasky by decision.
Remy Bonjasky is a rather tragic story these days - I consider myself lucky that I got into combat sports (more MMA than kickboxing, obviously) in time to see The Flying Gentleman do his thing. Remy, at 35 years of age, was inactive for the whole of 2010 after undergoing eye surgery and opened a large gym up in Almere, a new and growing city in the Netherlands (Remy is originally from Paramaribo, Suriname, as are Tyrone Spong and a number of other humans that could induce polio by kicking your leg). Before contemplating retirement, participating on the Dutch version (or, as Bas would tell you, the best version) of "Skating with the Stars" or sleeping with so many prominent Japanese models that Wikipedia felt it necessary to create a list, however, Bonjasky was widely recognized as one of best kickboxers on Earth.
Bonjasky's K-1 career began well before Hari made his debut with the organization, as Remy, having participated in the very first It's Showtime card way back in 1999 (at 23 years of age), made his debut with K-1 in 2001, losing his inaugural bout. Despite this setback, Remy took on the then-murderous Ray Sefo later in 2001, defeating him via corner stoppage. Bonjasky really hit his stride beginning in 2003, when he won his first of three World GP titles. He's defeated Badr Hari, Gokhan Saki, Errol Zimmerman, Alistair Overeem, Stefan Leko and Ernesto Hoost (before Hoost turned 40, no less). If it weren't for my eternal love for Semmy Schilt - and Remy's 0-3 record against the Supersized Samurai - I'd be tempted to call Bonjasky the best HW kickboxer of the last decade.
So in 2008, Hari and Bonjasky are competing to be King Shit of Fuck Mountain, and Fuck Mountain just happened to be the 2008 K-1 World Grand Prix. The two met in the finals, Hari after having bested Hong Man Choi, Peter Aertsand Errol Zimmerman, and Bonjasky fresh off of defeating Junichi Sawayashiki, Jerome Le Banner and Gokhan Saki. The bout represented Hari's first shot at a GP title - never mind the ridiculous >100kg belt he was gifted the previous year - and Bonjasky's third GP final.