Wednesday, March 11, 2009

K-1 to start women's division

The hybrid kickboxing MMA company K-1 held a press conference yeaterday to announce that they are starting a women's division. And to herald this announcement, K-1 producer Sadaharu Kanigawa announced that the first women's match will be on the Mar. 20 show in Seoul, Korea. Kanigawa said they haven't decided what the women's division will be called or the start date but it will start in 2009. The decision to do this was influenced by the popularity of women's kickboxing and by the celebrity status of amateur women's wrestling champs Saori Yoshida & Kyoko Hamiguchi and Kanigawa's recent encounter with them. The match in Korea will have 23 year old Korean Lim Su Jeong (pictured) against 17 year old shoot boxer REINA. Lim has a 19-5 Muay Thai record with 8KOs and has been a South Korean Bantamweight Champion. She is also an actress and recently appeared in the 2008 film Ong Bak 4: Chocolate. REINA is a regular in Shoot Boxing. So obviously they are playing to the Korean fans. Kanigawa said this is just the beginning and K-1 has ambitious plans to bring in fighters from all over the world. This could be a significant move in the Japanese fight business. K-1 was likely influenced by the success that the similar company M-1 has had with their women's division. It is also fueled by the popularity of women's kickboxing companies like J-GIRLS & Shoot Boxing. Also there have been rumours in the past about MMA companies like DREAM looking to start a women's division but maybe K-1's involvement could encourage those companies to pull the trigger. This could be a very positive development for the women's fight business in Japan.

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