K-1 comments on Open Tryouts & 2012 events
In the wake of an incredibly successful K-1 Open Tryouts event, Doug Kaplan, Chief Executive Officer for K-1, poured through the scorecards ranking all the Hopefuls who showed up that day. He sifted through them one by one, looking at the numbers and notes.
“We have to do these Callbacks as soon as possible, there are some guys here who could fight in our US Grand Prix Championships September 8 at the LA Sports Arena,” Kaplan says to Masato, Executive Producer for K-1.
Kaplan was the man sitting front and center amid the row of judges at the tryouts. He watched every participant try out for the organization that day. He is the man in charge of it all, and the one who intends to bring K-1 kickboxing back to the fans and make it as popular in America as it is in Japan, China and across Europe.
As he watched each fighter take the stage, he was filled with respect. Every Hopeful gave it everything, some to the point of sheer exhaustion.
“It was an incredible display of physical and mental fortitude,” said Kaplan. “Just taking the stage meant they had to endure the heat. Some were already to the point of exhaustion, but they stood up when they saw the pads and trainer in front of them. I just had the most incredible sense of awe for these men.”
The day started early and, as with any group of fighters, they eventually started talking to each other. In their red K-1 T-shirts, they introduced themselves across the warm up courts. They shared their stories of what it took to be there in LA at that moment.
Kaplan moved around among them, and when he heard that a number of guys had slept on the beach just to make it there that day, he realized once again the power of K-1.
“To each individual there that day, K-1 stood for something far beyond themselves, a standard of greatness and a destination where everyone had to be,” said Kaplan. “It was humbling, and it is something I will remember each day I wake up and go to work.”
It seems Kaplan wasn’t the only moved by the days’ events.
One Hopeful who took the stage spoke quietly into the microphone. He explained it was his dream to perform in K1 and to have the opportunity to try out in front of Alistair Overeem, one of the best warriors of all time, was already a dream come true.
“After I heard that I glanced at Alistair and I swear I saw tears,” he said. “I think when K-1 gets inside you, it stays there no matter what.”
Kaplan is heavily focused on the US Grand Prix Championships at the LA Sports Arena. The event takes place on Saturday, September 8. Tickets go on public sale this Friday, July 27 through Ticketmaster, and he is determined to fill the arena and give fight fans in America the iconic K-1 experience.
“We will do Callbacks for the Tryouts in a couple of weeks, and then everything is about the September US Grand Prix Championships,” he remarks. “I can’t wait for these fights on September 8. We will be announcing all the fighters and matchups this week and next week. I think everyone is going to be blown away by our lineup.”
Kaplan mentioned a few other things he’s working on including finalizing deals that will help K-1 to broadcast its events to fans and fighters around the world.
“We have been approached by major broadcasters and have been in talks for a while. There is huge interest in K-1 from the television side and we are very excited by this response.”
He adds, “Looking at October, we decided to have the World Grand Prix Final 16 in Tokyo. It is a done deal. The World Grand Prix Final 16 will be held at the Sumo National Stadium on October 14, and it is going to be just incredible because this is a historic venue and Tokyo is where K-1 was born. The fans in Japan have been begging us to bring K-1 back to where it started.”
Kaplan is referring to the first ever K-1 held in 1993 inside Korakuen Hall. A mere 2,100 people gathered to watch the event, unaware that they were witnessing a sport that, at its height, would fill the Olympic Stadium with nearly 100,000 people.
“When you look at the history of K-1, and the following it had for years and years around the world, it is impossible not to love this sport,” said Kaplan. “This is truly history in the making, all over again.”