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« | Home | »

The financial troubles & image blows won’t stop for K-1

By Zach Arnold | July 13, 2011

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Image of Tokyo Sports newspaper (July 10, 2011 edition) uploaded online by Ray Sefo. Copyright: Tokyo Sports shimbun.

Ray Sefo was booked this past weekend for Antonio Inoki’s IGF event at Tokyo Dome City Hall. Sefo, along with former K-1 fighters like Jerome Le Banner & Peter Aerts, are now booked in high-profile positions for Inoki.

Kazuyoshi Ishii’s former fighters continue to make claims in the Japanese press (in a rather aggressive fashion) that K-1 owes them a lot of money. Mr. Sefo claims he is owed $700,000USD. Tokyo Sports ran an article on Ray’s claims, including further claims of up to 20 big named fighters who are allegedly disgruntled with K-1.

Before we approach the politics of Inoki & Ishii, I think there is one (unfortunate) observation that needs to be pointed out in regards to all the fighters who are crying foul right now about K-1. You knew who you were working for and you knew the politics of the Japanese scene there in terms of declining business and just who is involved. Your claims of financial harm may very well be justified but those same claims are also tempered by who you were doing business with.

Take note of recent reports about Kazuyoshi Ishii claiming that he will run a non K-1 event next year with ‘new backers.’ K-1 is still his baby, so for him to say he’s going to run a separate event is basically shifting from one deal to another in order to avoid the image baggage.

As for Antonio Inoki, Inoki never does anything without political consequence. He’s not booking Ray Sefo, Jerome Le Banner, Peter Aerts, and other former K-1 fighters because he’s a benevolent man looking to burn through someone else’s money. Mr. Inoki and Mr. Ishii go way back, decades, in terms of business dealings. Remember, Inoki is backed by Tatsuo Kawamura, the entertainment agent/broker who used to go to school with the late Hiromichi Momose (the original backer of PRIDE). It’s a small world.

Le Banner is set to face Josh Barnett in the main event of Inoki’s 8/27 Tokyo, Ryogoku Kokugikan event. He is running this as a protest event to the multi-promotional Tokyo Sports event in Tokyo at Nippon Budokan featuring NOAH, New Japan, and All Japan. That show is supposed to be a charity show, although I don’t know how much of a charitable mood All Japan is in given their recent dust-up with Tokyo Sports.

Right now, the political scene in the Japanese fight game is becoming more derisive as the pool of money shrinks. The claws are out everywhere.

As for the DREAM event this weekend in Tokyo at Ariake Colosseum, there has been zero mainstream media coverage for the upcoming event this weekend. (Tim Leidecker event preview here.) I can’t fathom how many paid tickets they will be for that event. The misery never stops.

Topics: Japan, K-1, MMA, Media, Pro-Wrestling, Zach Arnold | 21 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

21 Responses to “The financial troubles & image blows won’t stop for K-1”

  1. sam says:

    “Your claims of financial harm may very well be justified but those same claims are also tempered by who you were doing business with.”

    I find this criticism to be wholly ridiculous. The guy is trying to make a living. Is he really going to turn down $700K worth of fights?? Where else can he make that much money?? Talk about blaming the victim!

    • Wonderjudas says:

      So, you can’t be blamed if you get your pedo uncle to baby-sit your children if you really, really needed a baby-sitter?

      I’m an independant contractor.I’m sometimes short on contracts. I can then accept contracts from employers whom I don’t entirely trust to come through money-wise. I’m well aware of the consequences. Sometimes they come through, sometimes they don’t. When they don’t, I get screwed, but I never include the money from those types of contracts in my budget before I see the cheque.

      • sam says:

        So fighting for K1 for a total of $700K is like letting your pedophile uncle molest your daughter?

        Not sure I see a parallel. But nice try.

        Also, Ray Sefo fighting for K1 in 2010 after 10 years of fighting for them and expecting to get paid his $700K is the same as you agreeing to fix the plumbing for a shady old lady and not getting paid? Again, I think not.

        • Phil says:

          it kind of is.

          It sucks that they didn’t get paid, but they honestly can’t say that they didn’t see it coming. There are countless stories about how bad they were doing business wise and of fighters getting screwed out of pay.

        • Sam says:

          The fact of the matter is regardless of K1’s track record Sefo and others still have a 100% legitimate “claim of financial harm.” It isn’t “tempered” by anything in my mind. It is easy of you people to criticize but he was a fighter trying to make a living. If you haven’t noticed, fighters don’t have the luxury of choosing to work only with squeeky clean characters. The fight business is shady. Always has been always will be. If you think the fertittas (a mob family) are above the shadiness then you are naive. Sure they pay their fighters. But the way fertitta used his political position to buy the ufc was shady. And they also shake down their fighters for a cut of their sponsorship money, force them to sign over lifetime rights to their likeness and take a way oversized chunk of the profits from the name fighters who are actually driving ppv sales.

        • Chromium says:

          These people helped build the organization and drew steady paychecks doing so for a decade or more. Stop making stupid comparisons to hiring some guy to fix the sink.

          To complete that equation, you would have to be a self-employed individual where you yourself made most of your money off demonstrating your amazing Rube Goldberg-esque sink to the public, a sink so amazing that only a handful of people in the world could properly repair it, and in fact the repairs became the centerpiece of your business over the course of 15 years. You make tons of money off of this until your mounting expenses including mafia protection for your wonder-sink force you to start bouncing checks to these highly skilled repairmen you depend on for money. They’ve been with you as your loyal sink repairmen for all this time and you all became very well off together, so they trust you and continue on for a bit but in the end they have their own expenses and can only work for so long before they have to move on. You could hire lesser talent but their repairs would be inferior and without your stable of highly trained sink repairmen you end up losing your tv contract with TLC for Phil’s Amazing Alchemy Sink. You’re still able to showcase your sink with live shows but the repairmen who made you rich are all doing other things elsewhere on other home plumbing shows or in tangentially related fields that combine other home repair disciplines with plumbing, or possibly in “staged” repair shows but where the public generally knows it’s fake. In the end though you still screwed those guys, you still legally owe them money, and they were exceedingly nice about it.

          tl;dr: so yeah, any analogy comparing this to someone fixing someone’s sink is completely retarded.

    • Michaelthebox says:

      I guess you haven’t seen Clerks.

  2. Dave Ditch says:

    I wondered whose money was being lost on IGF.

  3. edub says:

    Tito-Rashad now. I love the match up. Tito’s probably gonna get 7 figures out of the event.

  4. Zach Arnold says:

    The fact of the matter is regardless of K1’s track record Sefo and others still have a 100% legitimate “claim of financial harm.” It isn’t “tempered” by anything in my mind. It is easy of you people to criticize but he was a fighter trying to make a living. If you haven’t noticed, fighters don’t have the luxury of choosing to work only with squeeky clean characters. The fight business is shady.

    Try floating that to the trustee overseeing the recovery of money in the Bernie Madoff scandal. See how that flies.

    The fact is, Ishii got convicted of tax evasion and destruction of evidence when the process started in 2002 and extended into 2004-2005.

    • sam says:

      There is a difference between receiving massive profits from a convicted ponzi schemer and earning money from actual labor.

      Plus K1 is not failing to pay Sefo because their assets have been seized as part of a criminal investigation into a crime. Totally different.

      I see your point, but the two scenarios are not comparable.

  5. Ajax says:

    Wow nostalgia time. I’m having visions of when I randomly rented The Smashing Machine back in 03′ from Blockbuster, not knowing it would send me on a journey of being an MMA fan till this day. I remember Mark Kerr trying to get his money from the PRIDE brass backstage, and them hiding behind the language barrier leaving him with a frustrated look on his face. I see both sides of the story. Shame on the fighters for dealing with a fading K1, and shame on K1 for screwing the legends that made the company so many years ago. (Aerts, really?!?!!)

    • edub says:

      I used to watch smashing machine daily (along with the Renzo Gracie movie) all the time when i didn’t have cable back in 03-04.

    • Mike Kerr says:

      I’m mark kerr’s older brother, and i also remember him trying to get his money back stage. i was there with him, but all of the sudden they could not speak english.

      Mike Kerr

  6. Chromium says:

    Zach, really interesting and informative piece here. Also, damn if I wouldn’t wanna watch Josh Barnett and Jerome Le Banner in a wrestling match. Considering Inoki’s love of wrestlers with legit fighting credentials he must love the fuck out of Barnett.

  7. [...] K-1 Faces Steep Uphill Climb on Business Front (FightOpinion.com) [...]

  8. Marley's Ghost (Not That Marley) says:

    How many fights does K-1’s debt to Sefo entail? 700g’s that must be 2 or 3 bouts at least, surely?

    JLB is said to be K-1’s highest single fight earner, I wonder how much he is in the hole? I think he is owed for the Ishii fight on NYE.

    It’s Showtime claim to be owed $450,000 for a bunch of fighters (Badr, Ghita, Gerges, Petrosyan and more) Overeem is yet tob paid in full for the WGP win and I don’t think he’s seen a penny for his NYE fight either.

    I wonder if Semmy and the rest of GG are behind on pay too.

    And yet, Tanikawa claims to have big plans for a WGP event in October set in China or Macao. In-friggin’-sane.

  9. [...] Faces Steep Uphill Climb on Business Front – FightOpinion.com var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname="Friday Link Club – July 15, 2011"; [...]

  10. Bryan says:

    Zach, what is consensus of the Japanese public during this? Does anyone ever really care in the country at this point?

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Zach, what is consensus of the Japanese public during this? Does anyone ever really care in the country at this point?

      The public knows there’s trouble, but it’s a muted response.

  11. [...] time, usually six months, and cash up front. Now, juxtapose these advanced building bookings with guys like Ray Sefo saying they were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Peter Aerts & Jerome Le Banner are now working Antonio Inoki cards, for goodness sakes. So is [...]

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