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K-1 feeling heat in South Korean media

By Zach Arnold | September 21, 2007

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By Zach Arnold

Famous Japanese blogger Gryphon pointed out a major negative TV story in South Korean media about K-1. Please read Gryphon’s post first.

After you read his post, you will notice that he had a site commenter named MD Han who said that he watched the show in question. He then sent Gryphon a summary of some of the claims made on the South Korean TV show.

Here is the show summary MD Han sent to Gryphon.

From: MD Han
Subject: Summary of TV documentary

I just finished watching the documentary.

The show is called “In-depth 60 Minutes”, and is basically the Korean equivalent of “60 Minutes”, the American show.

I just gave you some brief information about the show in case you wanted to send it to American bloggers like Zach Arnold so they can get an idea.

The documentary’s topic was “K-1 and their lies”

They discussed 4 problems with K-1 and FEG. I’ll try to make it as specific as possible.

1. Questions regarding Hong Man Choi’s health

When the media questioned Choi’s health after being denied fighting in the Dynamite USA show, Choi and his camp insisted that his health was not a problem and that he was tested normal in Korea and the US. They blamed the media of spreading false rumors about his situation, but when the reporters asked his doctors about his condition, all of them basically said that he needed medical attention and was NOT “normal.” Choi’s camp said that he recently got tested in the US, but it was found that he didn’t go to the US and just made a phone call to his doctor to schedule an appointment.

2. Hong Man Choi’s medical record problem in the 2006 Las Vegas show

The California State Athletic Commision (CSAC) questioned the authenticity of Choi’s MRI reading when K-1 submitted it to the Nevada State Athletic Commision (NSAC.) The reading specifically states that Choi’s “pituitary structure is normal” but in the past, K-1 publicly stated that they knew he had a tumor in his brain. Why did the MRI reading say that his pituitary structure was normal when it was known that Choi had a tumor before he even joined K-1? The CSAC and the Korean media believe the MRI results were fake.

Keith Kizer and Armando Garcia were interviewed and also raised questioned the authenticity of these documents.

Also, the doctor who did the MRI reading (Dr. Kenji Nakayama) was an orthopedic surgeon. In other words, he wasn’t qualified enough to evaluate MRIs of the brain. Dr. Nakayama declined an interview with the reporters.

3. K-1’s salary and contract structure

The next topic discussed the “myth” of K-1 being a high paying organization. Several fighters in Korea alone have been rumored to receive around $1 million (one fighter was offered up to $3 million.) But managers and fighters (they interviewed Mu Bae Choi and some other anonymous fighters and managers) said that K-1 never pays that much money in reality. Only fighters like Hong Man Choi get paid that much, but other Korean fighters don’t. But the fighters who were interviewed were reluctant to discuss this issue. It turned out that their contracts had a nondisclosure agreement that fined the figher 10 times his contract money (I’m not 100% sure if it was 10 times the CONTRACT money… But it was 10 times something…) if he discloses his contract details. Other “unfair” clauses included in their contracts were:

a. The company was not responsible if the fighters don’t get insurance.

b. Any problems must be solved under Japanese law in the Tokyo Regional Court (Sorry I don’t know the exact name of the court.)

4. K-1’s treatment of Korean fighters & other issues

The last part of the show discussed the way K-1 treated Korean fighters. Basically, they were talking about how FEG matched up the relatively inexperienced Korean fighters against top Japanese/foreign fighters for popularity and that these Korean fighters end up being abandoned by K-1 for their poor performance. Personally, I don’t know what they’re complaining about. It’s obvious that this is a business, and the Korean media should know this.

Another issue they went over was K-1’s possible ties with organized crime. Mr. Funakawa (I’m not sure if I got the spelling right) from Shukan Gendai was interviewed and discussed the PRIDE situation and said that K-1 was no different. He said a lot of the money K-1 makes goes into Japanese organized crime gangs. The show briefly mentions the tax crimes and cases charged against K-1’s founder Mr. Kazuyoshi Ishii, and other shady aspects of K-1.

Lastly, it talked about the way FEG worked to gain sponsorships and TV rights, which are the biggest source of their revenue. The show found out that K-1 handed out 4,000 free complementary tickets in an event that totalled 10,000 2 years ago. A similar thing happened in 2006. It was said that K-1 specifically ordered to do this in order to gain sponsorsip deals and TV rights.

Topics: HERO's, Japan, K-1, Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 18 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

18 Responses to “K-1 feeling heat in South Korean media”

  1. Grape Knee High says:

    I am shocked, SHOCKED that Hong Man Choi might have a tumor on his pituitary gland. Next thing you know, we might find out that Junior Silva suffers from the same thing! Neither one of these guys looks like they suffer from pituitary gigantism or acromegaly at all. Not at all.

  2. Jeff Comstock says:

    K-1 is shady? Say it isn’t so. they have always seemed so squeaky clean. I too am shocked, shocked I say! that K-1 has been accused of these things.

    Zach prepare to be throttled for pointing out a report that suggests organized crime ties to a Japanese MMA promotion.

    Will your reign of terror ever end?

    Oops, I accidentally hit the “Submit Sarcastic Comment” button

  3. cyphron says:

    It’s all Dana White’s fault!!!

  4. mdhan says:

    One thing I forgot to mention was a part where an anonymous interviewee(it may have been someone from a fighter’s management) told the reporter that K-1 “enjoyed” seeing the media reporting all these inflated salary figures.

  5. Dru Down says:

    It seems like they did a lot of unneccesary work on that report- they could have just gone onto the forums for twenty minutes and called it a day.

  6. PizzaChef says:

    Zach everytime I see you post about K-1 here it’s always been anti-K-1 You’re a pro PANCRASE, pro PRIDE, pro DEEP, pro Shooto, pro UFC, mark that wants to make love with Dana White!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111one

    Sorry I’m bored, lol.

  7. Great post. Its stuff like this that keeps Fight Opinion at the forefront of true MMA journalism

  8. Awesome work. This is much better MMA reporting than what we get from TV, newspapers, or major media sites.

    If I could make a request, I’d like to see you write an entry on the financial health/revenue/attendance figures for MMA orgs. It’s pretty hard to get a reading on how well our sport is doing without poring over the balance sheets.

  9. UFC says:

    Good stuff Zach.

  10. 45 Huddle says:

    Makes you wonder what stuff Pride was doing over there as well.

    Very good article.

  11. david says:

    Hello I am a korean guy. I just watched the show. according to the show, the fine, a fighter who violates non-disclosure agreement, must pay 10 times of his fight purse. sorry for my bad english : (

  12. white ninja says:

    well, well, well, now its K1’s turn in the spotlight and from Korea of all places

    stupid thing about the 10 times fine for breaching the non disclosure in K1’s contract, is that it is not enforceable. Although, k1 can of course drop a fighter who causes trouble

    funny thing is that nobody in japan will touch this story with a 25 foot pole

  13. sonzai says:

    This spells trouble for K-1 in Korea. Once Koreans get their collective backs up over something like this, especially the poor treatment of Koreans by a Japanese company, it’ll take a lot to fix.

  14. mdhan says:

    Thank you for clearing that up, David!!

  15. david says:

    I would like to mention one thing about the documentary. they put so much time and effort to report K-1’s shady contract procedure. and did great, indeed. but it seemed that they try to draw answers that they want to hear, to make whole story up, while interviewing fighters. for me, it looked like a evil lawyer badgered innocent witnesses with leading questions. that was one problem. beside it everyrthing came along with solid logic reasoning with facts.

  16. david says:

    I would like to mention one thing about the documentary. Everything came along with solid logic and reasoning, with facts. but when they interviewed their source incl korean K-1 fighters and guys worked before, I sensed something awkward. maybe weird. they tried to draw asnwers from sources what they wanted to hear. it looked me like a evil lawyer badgered innocent witnesses with leading questions.

  17. […] This week’s dirt is on K1’s shoddy treatment of Koreans. The article sums up all the facts … I just want to explain to you a bit about how things work with Asians. It’s not one big love in, let me tell you. Even though they’re all slanty eyed yellow skinned rice eaters, there’s a very clear racial hierarchy in effect over there. […]

  18. zenki says:

    K-1 is the new Pride thank god..


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