In case you missed it, there was big news this weekend in the kickboxing world, as Glory World Series announced that they had acquired the long-standing It's Showtime organization. The news came during It's Showtime's big show, and was announced online and as part of the show. As part of the deal, Glory will now take over all aspects of It's Showtime, including administrative duties, bringing two of the world's top kickboxing organizations together under one banner.
The initial announcement was met with a lot of questions regarding the future of Glory, It's Showtime, and K-1. Now, we have some of those answers, largely thanks to an official statement by It's Showtime founder Simon Rutz. Here are the questions I asked on Saturday, along with what we now know:
What does this mean for the future of Glory?
There's not really a definitive answer just yet, though clearly big things are in the works. Here's Glory managing director Marcus Luer:
GLORY will soon announce a new series of events and a modernized tournament format for the rest of the year and for 2013.
"The matchmaking possibilities will create some amazing fights and fans will truly see the best competing against the best across all weight classes. We are changing the landscape of this global sport."
That's a bit vague, but the message is clear - Glory is the new top dog in the kickboxing world, and they plan to show it. As a fan, that's a very exciting thing.
What does this mean for K-1?
That's still a bit unknown, but the new K-1 is definitely in a bad spot. Simon Rutz and It's Showtime helped them organize the Madrid event that debuted the "new" K-1, but it turns out that the new K-1 wasn't much different from the old, right down to the issues with fighter pay.
Here's Rutz on their work with K-1:
In February of 2012, we have made agreements with Mr. Mike Kim of K-1 to help him bringing the K-1 back to the top of the game, and we would get paid for this help. We also helped the K-1 to sign fighters and we have introduced them to a local promoter in Madrid in order to set up the K-1 event last May.
Of all the daring plans Mr. Kim told us, nothing became reality. The fighters of the event last May still haven't received their money. Once again, the fighters won't get paid (only Badr Hari and Mirko Filipovic demanded to be paid in advance). The local promoter in Madrid disbursed money for the K-1 and even this company won't get that money back after hundreds of emails. Therefore, the local promoter will take these matters to court.
Also, but less important, K-1 again didn't live up to the financial agreements they have made with our company, so they breached the contract.
So, there you have it. One show into the tenure of the new K-1, and already, fighters are not being paid. This is one of the key factors in the bankruptcy of FEG and closing of the old K-1, and it's a shame to see it repeated here. I've tried to stay positive about K-1 through all of this, but to me, this is the final nail in the coffin. They may limp on for a few more shows, but without money and without the support of It's Showtime, K-1 is dead.
Is this the end of It's Showtime?
Probably. As Rutz says: "The take-over means that from now on, all personnel of IT'S SHOWTIME will use its knowledge to help bringing Glory to where we think it will go." That includes Rutz himself who now stays on as an event producer for Glory. He notes that there may still be shows branded as "It's Showtime," but I don't see that happening. Why confuse the market with two brands? Clearly, Glory is the flagship now. The IS July 21 show in Spain will still happen, though it may be rebranded as a Glory show now.
Why did It's Showtime sell?
I'll let Rutz answer this one in his own words:
There were different reasons for us for this sale. First of all, for a long time we had been regretting the fact that not all good kickboxers were in 1 league, and for that reason, the kickboxing fans didn't get to see a lot of potential great fights. At IT'S SHOWTIME, we were also deeply impressed by the positive plans of Glory Sports International to give our sport a massive impulse. Their very open and positive attitude towards us have brought our companies closer to each other in the past months.
The financial injection which Glory Sports International wants to give to our sport is historical, and no obstacles are left which could prevent Glory from being the absolute number 1 in the kickboxing industry. In fact, Glory could even set or raise the bar on various other areas.
While the future of kickboxing remains a bit unknown, it definitely looks the best it has since FEG began crumbling two years ago. Let's hope that Glory follows through on the promise they have created with this deal, because if they do, we could once again see kickboxing back in a position of prominence in the international combat sports scene.