Glory Kickboxing is a Billion $ franchise in the making. The Netherlands has become the new Japan of fight sports.
It’s 2019, December 21st, and 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. The heavyweight title fight between the two titans!
This event is the long-awaited success Glory has needed since it began. These ratings and attendance records are the organization’s turning point into positive numbers.
Does history repeat itself?
Glory walked the same route as the UFC. In the first years, the UFC lost 45 million, and that fight came on Spike, “Stephen Bonner vs. Forrest Griffin.” This fight in the finals of TUF became the game changer for the UFC. Eventually, the company became a 4 billion dollar giant. IMG buys the company not long after that.
It is February 16th, 2000 (just after I founded Golden Glory and 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. This magazine predicted that MMA would become more significant than boxing or Kickboxing. Another prediction I made was that if there were an investor who would back me up, he would make a lot of money!
That investor came right after the last K-1 GP in 2010 Tokyo, Japan. Golden Glory fighter Alistair Overeem just won that tournament. But K-1 had severe problems, becoming the previous K-1 heavyweight GP.
K-1, in financial trouble, I create the alternative.
The financial problems of K-1 are 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 the involvement of shady types eventually led to a particular law in the Netherlands to get a promotor license (BiBop law). Golden Glory has many gyms around the world, including in Russia. The next Glory World Series event is in Moscow (to avoid promoters’ licensing problems with Bibop law in the Netherlands. I was sure that the event was stacked with huge names and would take over the K-1.
The event was a huge success, but the exclusive first PPV deal with Youtube became a disappointment as the planned worldwide PPV became only a north American tryout (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.
Billionaires to the rescue.
With the outstanding money from K-1 for all Golden Glory fighters and our event having a substantial first financial disaster, I was at my wits’ end. I needed to do something. I am writing about the details in my upcoming book.
At this stage, I am negotiating with two investors, Bruno Wu from China and Pierre Andurand from French, based in England. On top of my headaches, I had a hernia operation in the Bangkok hospital. The result is that Alistair signed with the UFC without my presence which soon led to a fallout. Now, I have three lawsuits—Bankruptcy K-1 in Japan, Alistair Overeem Vegas, and Russia’s outstanding payments.
Billionaires think and handle on a different level. Their goals and way of thinking are a billion or more. These are long-term business plans with an exit strategy (like when the UFC sold its brand to IMG). It was the best learning process in my life! Making Kickboxing Great Again.
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. Marcus Leuer and Scott Rudman from TSA introduced me two years later to Pierre Andurand. We got on well. I informed him about my situation, which was terrible and not the right ingredients to make a great deal from the depth of the abyss.
Pierre advanced the money I needed for the court cases within a brief period. He announced he would invest at least 30 million into fight sports of Kickboxing. The original plan was to buy K-1. But two days before we could finalize buying the K-1 trademarks, a Korean guy named Mr. Kim purchased the license. I informed them this could happen in advance.
The New Glory.
I had more than 50% of K-1 talent under my management and had built our 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 when the UFC witnessed that investors (external investors are necessary) wanted to throw out the towel.
Because of Pierre Andurand, the organization is alive and, of course, Scott Rudmann. The distributor Marcus Leuer and old Glory World Series staff. It’s Showtime staff Cor Hemmers, Bert vd. Rijt and Raymond Daalder (Glory buys Its Showtime). All this and fighters like Rico Verhoeven and Badr Hari made the Glory Collision 2 in the Gelderdome this considerable success.
Where once the K-1 had world domination and all roads led to Tokyo, Japan, it is now the Netherlands. The irony is that some of the first television deals in the Netherlands I was involved in were with Veronica. I even can remember one of the first Muay Thai fights on Dutch national T.V. The Veronica Tv broadcast started with drama. A famous person in the fight business knocks out the announcer, John Haanen. He suddenly entered the ring, a spectator in the audience. This fighter could not take a bad joke from the Veronica employee.
A ring announcer gets knocked out.
John instantly produces a classic remark. He picks up the microphone crawling up from the ring canvas, “so now I know how it is to be knocked down. John had incredible high doses of dry humor (R.I.P John Haanen).
The Kickboxing event broadcast was not live. The producer cut out the incident from the broadcast. I gave the orders to cut the scene from the video production (I did this myself). But the 4000 spectators saw it live! I love that it is Veronica, 30 years later, having this massive success with our beloved kickboxing sport! Not a Billion $ franchise yet, but it has all the ingredients to achieve this now.
Bas Boon, Thanks, Pierre Andurand. You have the patience of an angel.
There are several attempts to promote the K-1 in the Netherlands. But the big break thru came with 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 and Glory World Series. This Tv deal is when the fighters got famous, and the sport became mainstream in the Netherlands.
Seven years after, I sold Golden Glory and Glory World Series to Glory Sports 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!
Golden Glory, a winning team, UFC sold for 4 billion.
(c) Bas Boon www.basboon.com