It’s 2019 December 21st a record paying attendance of 31.000 screaming Dutch fans are witnessing Glory Collision 2 Badr Hari vs Rico Verhoeven in the Gelderdome in Arnhem Holland.
The event broke all viewing records in the Netherlands with 3.5 million Dutch people watching the rating skyrocket during the Badr Hari vs Rico Verhoeven fight with over half of the country tuning in to see the Glory heavyweight title fight between the two titans!
The long awaited success Glory needed since it began, these ratings and record attendance is the turning point of the organisation into the positive numbers, Glory walked the same route as the UFC which lost 45 million and then came that fight on Spike “Stephen Bonner vs Forrest Griffin” this fight in the finals of TUF became the game changer for the UFC eventually turning the company into a 4 billion dollar giant which was sold to IMG.
It is the 16th of February 2000 (just after I founded Golden Glory and after I organized the first Cage Fight in the Netherlands) I have an interview with a magazine called Bizz in the Netherlands about the fight sports business. My prediction in this magazine was that MMA would become bigger then boxing or Kickboxing. Another prediction I made was that if there was an investor who would back me up, he was going to make a lot of money!
That investor came at the right time after the last K-1 GP in 2010 Tokyo Japan, which was won by Golden Glory fighter Alistair Overeem. K-1 had serious problems (it became the last heavyweight GP) and this was one of the reasons I started to concentrate more on our own promotion Glory World Series. Another problem the sport had was the bad press and involvement of shady types eventually lead to a special law in the Netherlands to get a promotor licence (BiBop law). As Golden Glory had many gyms around the world including in Russia, the Glory World Series event was planned in Moscow (to avoid promoters’ licensing problems with Bibop law in the Netherlands) the event was stacked with huge names and would take over the K-1, I was sure of it.
The event was a huge success, but the exclusive first PPV deal with Youtube became a disappointment as the planned world wide PPV became only a north American try out (live at 6 in the morning only in the US). On top of that the main sponsor Full Tilt got raided two weeks before the event. Both tournaments were won by Golden Glory fighter Gokhan Saki and Siyar Bahadurzada.
With the outstanding money from K-1 for all Golden Glory fighters and our own event having a huge first financial disaster I was at my wits’ end. I needed to do something, the details I describe in my book.
It is at this stage I am negotiating with two investors, Bruno Wu from China and Pierre Andurand from French but based England. On top of my headache’s I have a hernia operation in the Bangkok hospital while Alistair signed with the UFC without my presence which soon leads to a fall out. Now at this stage I have three lawsuits (bankruptcy K-1 in Japan, Alistair Overeem Vegas and Russia outstanding payments).
Picture: Bas Boon and Bruno Wu in China
An investor with courage ‘Pierre Andurand”
Pierre came to the rescue, I met him two years before when he came with Paul Hennesy to the K-1 and when we met again in Malaysia (I was introduced again to Pierre through Marcus Leuer and Scott Rudman TSA) two years later we got on well. I informed him about my current situation which was bad and not the right ingredients to make a great deal from the depth of the abyss.
Pierre advanced money I needed for the court cases and within a very short period of time he announced he would invest at least 30 million into the fight sports. Original plan was to buy K-1, but this was aborted 2 days before we could finalize buying the K-1 trademarks it was sold to a Korean guy named Mr Kim. I informed this could happen in advance but that I had more then 50% of K-1 talent under my management and had built our own platform in Glory World Series, Pierre did not have to think twice and put his money where his mouth was, it became Glory!
Photo from left to right: Cor Hemmers, Simon Rutz, Pierre Andurand, Bas Boon, Scott Rudmann, Raymond Daalder, Bert van der Rijt
Plenty of old headaches blocked the way of progress in the first Glory years (more about that in my book) but there were times like the UFC witnessed that investors (external investors were brought in) wanted to throw the towel. It is because of Pierre Andurand the organisation is alive and of course Scott Rudmann, distributor Marcus Leuer and old Glory world Series staff and it’s Showtime staff Cor Hemmers, Bert vd Rijt and Raymond Daalder ( Showtime was bought by Glory) all this and fighters like Rico Verhoeven and Badr Hari made the Glory Collision 2 in the Gelderdome to this huge success.
Where once the K-1 had world domination and all roads lead to Tokyo Japan it is now the Netherlands. The irony is that some of the first TV deals in the Netherlands I was involved in was with was Veronica. I even can remember that one of the first Muay Thai fights on Dutch national TV Veronica was filled with drama as the announcer John Haanen was knocked down by a fighter in the audience who entered the ring as this fighter could not take a bad joke from the Veronica employee. The classic remark after John picked up the microphone crawling up from the ring canvas was “so now I know myself how it is to be knocked down (John had an incredible high doses of dry humor R.I.P), the broadcast was tape delayed and the incident was cut out from the broadcast and video tapes (I did this myself), but the 4000 spectators saw it live! I love the fact that it is Veronica now 30 years later having this huge success with our beloved kickboxing sport!
More attempts for promoting the K-1 in the Netherlands were made by several promoters in the Netherlands but the big break thru came by the contract I made with SBS6 director of sport Lex Mueller. For five years the sport could be seen on national TV broadcasting the K-1 shows live as well as Glory World Series. This is when the fighters got really popular and the sport became mainstream in the Netherlands.
Seven year after I sold Golden Glory and Glory World Series to Glory Sport International, Glory arrived at the turning point and I am convinced they are becoming a billion dollar franchise (my interview with the magazine Bizz in Holland spooks through my mind). Pierre Andurand you deserve this, all the respect and thank you for what you did for me and the kickboxing sports, you are an exceptional human being with the patience of a saint!
(c) Bas Boon www.basboon.com