Kaoklai Takes K-1 Asia GP; LeBanner Also Wins in Seoul
SEOUL, July 17, 2004 -- Muay Thai fighter Kaoklai Kaennorsing of Thailand dispatched three opponents to capture the K-1 Asia Grand Prix 2004 Championship. The tournament featured eight fighters from five different Asian countries, and was held at the Jamsil Olympic Complex in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Kaoklai is both the youngest (20yrs) and lightest (78kg) fighter ever to win a K-1 World GP tournament.
All Fighters Ready to fight
K-1 World GP in Seoul Press Conference
SEOUL, July 15, 2004 -- The fighters in the K-1 World Grand Prix 2004 in Seoul met the media today in a press conference at the Lotte Hotel Jamsil in the Korean capital. Set for this Saturday July 17, the 8-man tournament will determine the K-1 Asian Grand Prix Champion, who will go to the GP 2004 Final Elimination in September to fight for a spot in this year's Tokyo Dome Final.
Saturday's Asian GP tournament will follow the signature K-1 elimination format -- four quarterfinal bouts advancing four fighters to a pair of semifinals, the two winners there meeting in the final. Thus the Champion will have to win three fights in one day.
The eight tournament fighters hail from five different Asian countries. In the first quarterfinal matchup, American-Japanese Akebono will meet 18 year-old Chinese Sanda fighter Zhang Qing Jun. A Former Sumo Grand Champion, Akebono has dropped his first two K-1 matches (although these came against Bob Sapp and Musashi) and the big guy will try to use his 122kg weight advantage over Qing Jun to turn things round here.
The second bout will pit Mongolian Dolgosuren Sumiyabazar against Shingo Koyasu. Sumiyabazar is a two-time freestyle wrestling Olympian, a brother of current Sumo Yokozuna (Grand Champion) Asashouryu; Koyasu meanwhile is a Seidokaikan fighter with five years of K-1 experience.
Tsuyoshi Nakasako of Japan will step in against Lee Myeong Ju in the third quarterfinal. Nakasako has struggled as of late, dropping seven of his last eight bouts. Ju has a record of 21 wins in 24 Muay Thai fights, and is one of two fighters who will be representing Korea here.
The second, Korean-Canadian MMA fighter Dennis Kang , will step appear in the last quarterfinal against Muay Thai fighter Kaoklai Kaennorsing of Thailand. The Korean media has adopted the photogenic Kang as a hometown favorite -- a TV crew met him at the airport and he has been the subject of numerous interviews. "This is a patriotic country and I love the attention," said Kang, who speaks fluent French and English but little Korean. "I accept the challenge, I have been working on boxing [with former Canadian Champ Tony Pep] and I will give 110% on Saturday!"
There will also be three Superfights on the Seoul card:
In the first, Defending K-1 World GP Champion Remy Bonjasky of the Netherlands will meet hot Belgian Aziz Khattou. Bonjasky has been victorious in nine of his last ten K-1 fights, while Khattou is on a four-bout winning streak of his own, so this promises to be an exciting matchup.
TOA of New Zealand will bring a 35 kg weight advantage to his Superfight against Brazilian Kyokushin fighter Glaube Feitosa; and Seoul will host the return of one of K-1's fiercest fighters -- Jerome LeBanner of France. After taking a year off to recover from a broken left arm, LeBanner will step in against American fighter Mariano, who will make his K-1 debut in this Superfight.
The K-1 World Grand Prix 2004 in Seoul kicks off at 1:00 pm local time on Saturday July 17, at the Jamsil Olympic Stadium. Check back here for complete coverage soon after the final bell.
Special thanks to Monte Dipietro and K-1 for this write-up.
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