Big news from the kickboxing world today - controversial fighter Badr Hari has announced his retirement from kickboxing. The news came via Hari's management at It's Showtime, stating that the K-1 veteran would be leaving kickboxing in order to move to the US and begin a professional boxing career. Hari will have at least one final fight, as he faces Gokhan Saki on the January 28 It's Showtime card in what will be Hari's last fight.
Known as "The Golden Boy", Hari has been one of the most polarizing figures in K-1 and kickboxing for some time. Hari's aggressive style earned him great acclaim and a legion of fans, but his uneven temper has also caused him troubles. In 2008, Hari was the first fighter ever to be disqualified in the K-1 World Grand Prix Finals as he stomped a downed Remy Bonjasky in an ugly scene. 2010 saw a near repeat of this incident when he kicked Hesdy Gerges on the ground in an It's Showtime event. Shortly after the Gerges incident, Hari became entangled in an incident involving the assault of a nightclub bouncer. He was wanted by police in Amsterdam, and left the country for some time. He would not return to the sport until one year later after finally getting these legal issues sorted out.
Despite these troubles, Hari remains a very popular fighter. He's had great successes in his career, including twice making the K-1 Grand Prix finals, and holding knock out victories over huge names like Alistair Overeem, Peter Aerts, and Semmy Schilt. His fights with Ruslan Karaev, Stefan Leko, and Errol Zimmerman are all classics for fans of non-stop action and huge KOs.
Hari has talked about the switch to boxing for some time, including an announcement that he would box for Morocco in the 2012 Olympics (though that seems to have passed). If he is serious about the move, his personality and heavy hands will make him an intriguing new Heavyweight, though he'll have to answer questions about his chin, defenses, and of course his temper.
One other note from this news - the Saki fight will be Hari's last, but he's also scheduled to take part in the K-1 Grand Prix later this year. However, It's Showtime, who is a co-promoter of the GP, stated that Hari may not take part, as the GP may not happen at all due to outstanding fighter pay on the part of K-1. If the GP happens, Hari will be in, but for now the event is in jeopardy.