GLORY Ambassador Cor Hemmers Sees Opportunity to Make Kickboxing “The Biggest Sport (in) the World”
As NYE Show Arrives, “I’m Happy That DREAM is Coming Back With Us”
By Kelsey Mowatt
After a year that has been plagued by cancelled shows and high profile injuries, Glory Sports International is doing its part to add another highlight for the year, by presenting DREAM 18 on New Year’s Eve. Of course, just a few months ago, it was widely believed that the Japanese based promotion had also followed the suffered the same fate as its historic predecessor PRIDE. While it remains to be seen what the growing GLORY organization has planned for DREAM, for now at least, fight fans can look forward to a promising NYE card.
“I think it’s great that we came up with DREAM,” renowned kickboxing coach and Glory Sports International ambassador said on Full Contact Fighter Radio recently. “If you look at the MMA side, I’m coming from the kickboxing part of course, but I have some experience in the MMA world when I was in Japan in the PRIDE time…I’m happy that DREAM is coming back with us.”
The December 31st card will feature several well established fighters and match-ups, some of which include Shinya Aoki versus Antonio McKee, DREAM bantamweight champ Bibiano Fernandes versus Yoshihiro Maeda, and Melvin Manhoef versus Denis Kang, among others.
“It’s a good opportunity certainly for the future,” said Hemmers, who during his accomplished career has trained striking stars like Alistair Overeem, Bas Rutten and Ramon Dekkers . “We have some great MMA fighters under our management and I think that it’s big. It’s great.”
Of course, the NYE card will also feature GLORY’s Heavyweight Grand Slam kickboxing tourney, which will see the winner collect $400,00 in prize money. Some of the highly regarded kickboxers scheduled to compete include Semmy Schilt, Gokhan Saki, Remy Bonjasky, Peter Aerts, Sergei Kharitonov and Errol Zimmerman.
“The GLORY part, the kickboxing part, that’s my world and I think that we’ve contracted the best fighters of the world and we’re doing a new concept called the Grand Slam,” Hemmers said. “This means that 16 of the best heavyweights in the world will fight in one evening. It’s a great tournament and we have a winner the same evening, so it’s huge.”
While many throughout the MMA world debated the perceived loss of DREAM earlier this year, and more recently the demise of Strikeforce, it wasn’t long ago that the kickboxing industry was hit with even more dire speculation. After news that K-1–the promotional leader of kickboxing for some time–had lost its parent company FEG to bankruptcy, the future of the sport didn’t appear bright.
Since then, however, K-1 has been revived under new ownership, and Glory Sports International made headlines throughout 2012 by announcing considerable plans for expansion, signing many of the sport’s biggest names and acquiring competing promotion, It’s Showtime.
“We are very happy of course, because we saw that period with FEG, and everyone was thinking that the sport would go down,” said Hemmers. “I never lost my faith. I’ve been in the kickboxing world for a long time and we had some difficulties before. In the early 80’s, we had a bit of a down period, and in the early 90’s it came up again, but then went down again, but I never lost faith.”
“As the big promoter like FEG had some really serious problems, we’re very happy now to try and collaborate with some good investors, together with I think the best, most serious people in the sport,” Hemmers furthered. “For me it’s a dream. A long time ago I started of course as a fighter, trainer, coach, promoter, manager, and I always had a dream to make this the biggest sport of the world, and now finally with this back-up this opportunity is there.”
In an effort to promote kickboxing around the globe, Glory Sports International has already announced plans to help grow the sport in North America and host shows in the U.S.
“We are planning some big events in the United States, and we will bring our biggest stars over there, but in the meantime it’s very important that American athletes are participating,” Hemmers relayed. “So we will start in February our “Road to Glory” events, it’s a kind of scouting selection tournament…only American fighters, also Canadian fighters can participate, will be there to participate in our Slam events.”
DREAM 18 and GLORY’s NYE show will be hosted by the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.