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For other uses, see K1 (disambiguation).
K-1 Global Holdings Limited
Industry Martial-arts entertainment planning and promotion
Founded 1993
Headquarters Unit A, 3/F, Queen’s Centre, 58-64 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Key people

Mike Kim, Chairman/CEO
Alin Hălmăgean, Director Operations

Ned Kuruc, Director Operations
Owner K-1 Global Holdings Limited
Slogan K-1 Rising
Website K-1 Global
K-1 World GP

K-1 began in 1993 and is a kickboxing platform and martial arts brand well-known worldwide mainly for its heavyweight division fights. On January 2012, K-1 Global Holdings Limited, a company registered in Hong Kong, acquired the rights to K-1, and is the current organizer of K-1 events worldwide.


The letter K in K-1 is officially designated as a representation of words karate, kickboxing and kung fu. Nevertheless, some reports suggest that it represents the initial K found in competing disciplines such as karate, kickboxing, kung fu, kempo, kakutougi (the generic Japanese term for "combat sports"), and [tae] kwon do.[1] Yet another theory claims that the K simply comes from kakutougi and the "1" component pertains to the single weight division (in earlier competition) and the champion's unique position.[2] Nevertheless, the promotion held several tournaments under K-2 and K-3 banners from 1993 to 1995.


Main article: History of K-1

K-1's predecessor Seidokaikan Karate was formed in 1980 by Kazuyoshi Ishii, a former Kyokushin karate practitioner who had formed his own organization to help promote the best stand-up martial artists.[3] Seidokaikan arranged several successful challenge events against other martial arts organizations, originally using rules based on the Kyokushin Knockdown karate rules, but gradually adapting and changing closer to kickboxing rules. In 1993, Mr. Ishii founded the K-1 organization exclusively as a kickboxing organization, closely cooperating with, but independent from Seidokaikan.[2]

Financial Problems[edit]

Starting in 2010, multiple stories began to surface regarding the financial troubles of K-1 and their parent company FEG.[4] Simon Rutz, the owner of the Dutch-based kickboxing promotion It's Showtime, claimed in January 2011 that some fighters from It's Showtime had not been paid for fights in K-1.[5]

In early 2011, FEG publicly announced that they were facing financial problems and that the organization would take some months off to restructure. A seemingly endless list of fighters and managers spoke out against FEG due to unpaid fight purses and objections to the direction that its owner was taking K-1. From outside speculation, it appeared that financial problems are severe, FEG could potentially lose ownership of K-1.[6]

The entire K-1 brand, along with most of its trademarks, with the exception of, 'K-1 Koshien', 'K-1 MAX' and 'Dream', were sold to Japanese real estate firm, Barbizon Corporation Limited, on July 28, 2011.[7]

There was yet to come even another change in ownership of K-1 brand. It was reported on February 1, 2012 that EMCOM Entertainment Inc. purchased K-1 from Barbizon.[8]

K-1 Global[edit]

In March 2012, It's Showtime announced that EMCOM Entertainment established a new company K-1 Global Holdings Ltd. in Hong Kong. K-1 Global Holdings, Ltd., became the new official owner of the K-1 brand. K-1 Global's agreement with promotion required that certain fighters signed under It's Showtime appear in upcoming K-1 Global events.[9]

A number of events were already planned and scheduled for the 2012 calendar before new K-1 ownership took complete control of the company. It's Showtime was the promoter of the first event presented by K-1 Global Holdings Ltd., the K-1 World MAX Final 16. It took place on May 27, 2012 at the Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid, Spain.

After the event, controversy and rumors circulated over the fact that once again, fighters were not paid for their performances. Problems were compounded due to unpaid financial obligations of FEG, and the complete transfer of ownership of the K-1 name was not yet complete. As a result, the K-1 World Grand Prix scheduled for 2012 would be cancelled if these issues were not resolved.[10]

Unfortunately, K-1 Global Holdings, Ltd., was blamed for the failure of an event they did not promote. They were also accused of not paying fighters when in fact, the promoter and FEG shared responsibilities in ensuring fighters were paid. The Chairman of the new K-1 resolved the matter by paying fighters what was owed and including a 50% bonus.[11]

It was announced in June 2012 that It's Showtime was purchased by Glory Sports International, eventually to be merged in their new promotion GLORY.[12]

On August 10, 2012 K-1's co-promotion agreement with Romanian-based kickboxing promotion SUPERKOMBAT was announced.[13] Eventually it was ended. Early next year SK president Eduard Irimia stated that its company will be independent in 2013 but will still continue to have cooperation with any interested promotion including K-1 by offering fighters.[14]

List of K-1 events[edit]

Main article: List of K-1 events

Every year there are dozens of other K-1 qualifying tournaments and preliminaries all over the world.

K-1 has held events in many countries around the world.

The following is a list of countries that K-1 has held events in chronological order:

Tournament format[edit]

K-1 Qualifying System 2009

K-1 Grand Prix[edit]

Main article: K-1 World Grand Prix

Original K-1 Grand Prix was a single event tournament held in Japan where competitors participated on invitation. By 1998, K-1 introduced the K-1 World Grand Prix format composed of K-1 Regional Elimination Tournaments (theoretically amounting to six), which qualify fighters for the K-1 World Grand Prix Final, along with licensed K-1 Fighting Network events designed to hold national preliminaries for regional qualification. However, given the fact that K-1's popularity differs greatly among six K-1 regions, which may limit the number of actual elimination tournaments or change locations. For example, K-1 attempted to gain popularity in the United States by holding two GPs, however only a few Americans have ever qualified for the Finals. In 2006 one of the American GPs was relocated to Auckland. Additionally the K-1 Paris GP lost its qualifying right in favor of Amsterdam. Eventually Amsterdam lost it in favor of Łódź, and then Łódź in favor of Bucharest.

K-1 World Grand Prix Final Eliminator ("Final 16") is an event where 16 participants compete for the final eight spots in the Final ("Final 8"). Eight participants from the Final Eliminator meet at the K-1 World Grand Prix Final that was traditionally held at Tokyo Dome. It should be noted that lesser elements in the tournament format have been significantly modified in years. The 2012 final took place for the first time in history outside Japan, in Zagreb, Croatia.

K-1 World MAX and other[edit]

By 2002, K-1 started the K-1 World MAX ("Middleweight Artistic Xtreme") tournament for 70 kg (154 lb) Middleweight division, following a similar scheme to K-1 World Grand Prix (with theoretically four regional eliminators). In 2007, K-1 introduced two new Title belts separate from K-1 World GP Champions, Super Heavyweight World Title for fighters over 100 kg/220 lbs and Heavyweight World Title for fighters under 100 kg/156–220 lbs.


  • Each match is three or five rounds in duration, with each round lasting three minutes.
  • The match can end by Knockout, Technical Knockout, Decision, Disqualification, Draw or No Contest.
  • Both the referee and the ring doctor have full authority to stop the fight.
  • The fight is scored by three judges on a ten-point must system (The winner of each round receives ten points, and the loser receives nine or less. If the round is even, both competitors receive ten points).
  • If there is a draw after three rounds, the judges' scores are thrown out and one or two extra three-minute rounds are contested. The judges' decision will then come from the scoring of each extra round only. If, after the extra round(s), there is still a draw, the judges will decide a winner based on the flow of the entire match, considering even the slightest difference. A fight can only end in a draw if both fighters go down at the same time and cannot get up, or in the case of accidental injury in the late stages of the contest.
  • The three-knockdown rule is in effect (three knockdowns in a round results in a technical knockout).
  • The mandatory eight count is in effect (the referee must count to at least "eight" on all knockdowns).
  • The standing eight count is in effect (the referee has the right to declare a knockdown on a fighter who appears to be in a dangerous condition to continue in the match).
  • A fighter can be saved by the bell only in the last round.

In K-1 single elimination tournament matches:

  • Each match is three rounds in duration.
  • The three-knockdown rule becomes a two-knockdown rule for all matches except the final.
  • One or two reserve fights are held prior to the single elimination matches. If for any reason a fighter who wins and advances through the brackets is unable to continue, a reserve match competitor, or the fighter's opponent from the most recent match, takes his place. There are certain exceptions to this rule (i.e. a fighter who lost a match by knockout might not be eligible to replace another fighter).


The following actions in K-1 are considered fouls:[15]

  • Using the head or elbow to deliver a blow
  • Attacking the opponent in the groin
  • Delivering wrestling or judo throwing or submission techniques
  • Thumbing, choking or biting the opponent
  • Punching the opponent in the throat
  • Attacking the opponent while he is down or in the process of getting up
  • Attacking the opponent after the referee calls a break
  • Holding the ropes
  • Using offensive language to the referee
  • Attacking the back of the head with a punch
  • Attempting to cause the opponent to fall out of the ring
  • Voluntarily exiting the ring during the course of a match
  • Attacking an opponent who turns around and shows his back (if the opponent loses his will to fight)
  • Delivering a backspin blow in an unauthorized area
  • Charging inside the opponent's arms with the head held low (inducing a head-butt)
  • Fighting in a passive manner (without attacking), including continuous holding and clinching
  • Attacking more than once while holding the opponent's kicking leg, or while holding the opponent's neck with both hands

A fighter is penalized as follows:

  • Caution – verbal reprimand by the referee
  • Warning – fighter is shown a yellow card
  • Point Deduction – fighter is shown a red card

Two cautions result in one warning. Two warnings result in a point deduction, and three point deductions in one round can result in a disqualification.

A red card is shown automatically if a fighter commits a foul with malicious intent.


The sport is very popular in Japan, South Korea, Brazil, and in Europe in countries such as the Netherlands, Croatia and Romania but recently enjoys only limited popularity in the United States.

The events are frequently shown on Tokyo Broadcasting System and Fuji TV[16] in Japan, XTM in South Korea, Combate and SporTV in Brazil, Spike (before HDNet Fights[17]) in the United States and on Eurosport in Europe. .

List of K-1 champions[edit]

Main article: List of K-1 champions

Current champions[edit]

Division Champion Since Title defenses
-70kg Armenia Marat Grigorian July 4, 2015 0
-65kg Thailand Kaew Fairtex November 3, 2014 0
-60kg Japan Koya Urabe January 18, 2015 0
-55kg Japan Takeru April 19, 2015 0

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tashiro, H., & Tyrangiel, J. (2001): Turning the martial arts into mondo mayhem TIME (September 3, 2001). Retrieved on March 4, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Maylam, J. (2001): K-1 hits the spot: Ultimate fighters pack a punch The Japan Times (October 21, 2001). Retrieved on March 4, 2010.
  3. ^ "K-1 |  FIGHT! Magazine – Archives". fightmagazine.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  4. ^ "The Showtime May Arena event would possibly be delayed, due to K-1's financial problems", January 21, 2011, Sports Navi – Yahoo! Japan (Japanese)
  5. ^ "What is happening with K-1!? It's Showtime owner Rutz talks about the rumor (1/2)", January 21, 2011, Sports Navi – Yahoo! Japan (Japanese)
  6. ^ "K-1 could be purchased after a financial problem!? Like Pride?", January 23, 2011, Livedoor Sports (Japanese)
  7. ^ "K-1 Sold to Japanese Real Estate Firm Barbizon", July 28, 2011, MMAFighting
  8. ^ K-1 announces agreement with SuperKombat, February 1, 2012, Liver Kick
  9. ^ It's Showtime Closes Deal with the New K-1 Organization, March 6, 2012, It's Showtime
  10. ^ Simon Rutz: "K-1 World Grand Prix Canceled, FEG 'Technically Bankrupt", October 17, 2011, mmafighting.com
  11. ^ "Daniel Ghita gives us insight into K-1's future and a fragmented kickboxing world". 
  12. ^ GLORY World Series Acquires Kickboxing Competitor ‘It’s Showtime’
  13. ^ K-1 announces agreement with SuperKombat, August 10, 2012, Liverkick.com
  14. ^ Liverkick's Exclusive Interview with Superkombat President Eduard Irimia, February 19, 2013, Liverkick.com
  15. ^ http://www.k-1.co.jp/en/what/rules.html
  16. ^ "Bad Left Hook, Global Boxing News and Commentary". headkicklegend.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  17. ^ "K-1 to Air on HDNet". 

External links[edit]