K1 Kickboxing, Saturday 2nd October 2010, 3pm

Jen spotted this one on a poster somewhere and so we thought we’d go along and see it. The tickets ranged from twenty two thousand won for seats towards the back to over a million won for the VIP ones at ringside. I decided to go for the cheap seats as five hundred quid for sitting at the front seemed a bit excessive.

The venue for the event was the Olympic Park Gymnasium in Seoul. I googled it to find out if it was the place where Lennox Lewis won his Olympic Gold in 1988 and where Roy Jones was robbed of his, but it wasn’t. It was however, as you may have guessed, the place where the gymnastics was held.

I hadn't been here before. It's worth a wander around.

We got in at about half past two and took our seats in the outer tier. I reckon the place was probably about a third full, although I’m not sure how many people the place held, perhaps about five or six thousand I suspect. The posters hadn’t mentioned kickboxing, just K1 and I wasnt really sure what to expect. I wondered if it might be that MMA stuff that seems more like a scrap in a pub car park, but it turned out to be kickboxing, with more emphasis on the boxing than the kicking. There was an initial bout that didnt really seem part of the main event. It was between a couple of Korean blokes and one of them laid the other out within a few seconds. We then had a half hour wait before the event proper started.

There were three big screens to the side of the ring and we couldn’t really see them properly from where we were sat so we moved further round and then down into the next section closer to the ring. Most people in the outer section were doing the same and as there was plenty of room nobody seemed bothered.

All of the fighters were introduced one by one at the start, lining up alongside some quite impressive flames. They were all heavyweights and each of the fights was to consist of 3 x 3 minute rounds.

I wouldn't argue with any of them.

Before each fighter did his ringwalk there would be a video reel with footage of his background and of his previous fights shown on the big screens. It was a very handy thing to do, particularly as I had no idea about any of the boxers and it provided a bit of interest between bouts.

Just in case anyone forgot their glasses.

The fights were worth watching as the short format meant that they had to get about each other from the start, a bit like boxing’s ’Prizefighter’ events I suppose. We saw a few knockouts and stoppages, whilst other bouts went the full three rounds. At the ends of rounds 1 and 2, the scores were shown on the big screens, so the boxers and the crowd knew exactly what was required in the remainder of the fight. A couple of the contests ended in draws and I was surprised to see that the solution was to fight an extra round to determine the winner.

One other notable difference to boxing was that they didnt allow fighters to box whilst they had blood on their faces. The clock was stopped and they were cleaned up before continuing. I don’t know what would have happened if the doctor or second had been unable to stop the bleeding.

The crowd was fairly quiet. With a few odd exceptions I think most people had come to see the event as a whole rather than to support a particular fighter. There didnt seem to be much difference in quality between the early fights and those at the end of the afternoon, so everyone bar the typical Korean latecomers watched all of the bouts rather than staying in the bar until the main event, as happens so often at the boxing in the UK these days.

The lads in front of us seemed to pick fighters at random and then support them as if they were family. They rarely managed to pick a winner though, perhaps they had a liking for the underdog.

By 7pm we had seen all twelve bouts and we headed off to Gangnam for something to eat and drink. The early finish being a bit of a bonus to what had been an enjoyable afternoon.

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