Monday 23rd of July 2018
K-1 Las Vegas 2006 2006-04-29

It was great meeting my old friends Shihan Dave Jonkers and Sem Schilt at the Amsterdam Airport. I had not met them for a few years and I was very happy to see that time and success has not changed them. They were accompanied by Sem's Manager Bas Boon and his sparring partner Jelle Waringa. Jelle is a real tough guy, whereas most fighters “only” have to face Sem for 3 rounds Jelle does this all the time and considering Jelle is 49 years old, this is a great achievement.

After a cramped flight with KLM we arrived at Las Vegas. When we came out of the Airport at 23.00 and I saw the taxi line I could not believe my eyes, there must have been between 200 and 300 people in the line. However the line kept moving and after about 20 minutes we were in a taxi. There must be an enormous number of taxis in Las Vegas and there needs to be because the line was even longer by the time we were in our taxi.

The next day, Thursday, the administrative procedures started and also the first Press Conference and the first of many Interviews. The interviews were with American, Japanese and European Newspapers, Magazines and TV.


 The main press conference  Sem getting ready for an interview for Japanese TV.

On Friday there was the Weigh-In and Rules Review. This took more that 3 hours and was nicely rounded off by yet another interview and two different photo sessions. I thought that it must be difficult for the fighters to stay focused during all this. However most of the fighters seem relaxed and quite used to all the things going on around them.


One of the photo sessions   More Japnese media.
Sem was continually being asked for autographs and to have his photo taken with fans. To his credit he always obliged with a smile on his face.

I also bumped into Omar Bouiche who was there with the Swedish wrestler Martin Lidberg who was there to tryout for the K1 - MMA. It was nice meeting him again after about 4 or 5 years. Sometimes time goes unbelievably quickly.
   Sem with Stefan Leko at the weigh in. Soke, Shihan Jonkers and Shihan Sem outside the hotel.

An interesting observation that I made is that apart from the Superstars of this world most people are only famous within their own field of endeavour. At the weigh-in, a former heavyweight boxer Jeremy Williams was there and nobody seemed to know who he was. He held various titles and was a very entertaining and great boxer and in boxing circles at a similar function everybody would have known who he was.


There were 4 preliminary fights and none of them were that interesting. One of them was a fight between two girls and although the fight itself was not that good, most men appreciated the 10 sexily dressed girls who followed LaTasha Marzolla up to the ring.
    Entrance to the tournament.

The first tournament bout was between Kengo Watanabe 193 cm 100 kg and Gary Goodridge 190 cm 112 kg. Gary dominated the fight right from the first bell and knocked out Kengo with a big right hand punch after 40 seconds of the first round.

The second fight was between Scott Lightly 188 cm 105 kg and Dewey Cooper 185 cm 93 kg. Dewey was the favourite to win this fight but Scott fought a smart fight and beat Dewey on points.

Pre-fight presentation.The third fight was between Carter Williams 185 cm 110 kg and Yusuke Fujimoto 178 cm 100 kg, Carter, the favourite to win the Tournament bided his time and saved his energy. He knocked Fujimoto down once and won on points.

The fourth fight was between Sean O’Haire 196 cm 115 kg and Chalid Die Faust 178 cm 94 kg.

Chalid knocked his much bigger opponent out in 23 seconds of the first round with two beautiful right uppercuts.

In the first semi-final Scott Lightly lost to Gary Goodridge on a TKO in 30 seconds of the first round. The crowd booed the referee when he stopped the fight but I thought he did the right thing. Gary was just too strong for Scott.

In the second semi-final Carter Williams fought Chalid Die Faust. This was a really tough fight and although Chalid was knocked down by Carter he chased him all round the ring when he got up, connecting with numerous punching combinations and he had Carter hanging on to survive. One more round and Chalid would have won instead of loosing a close decision on points.

The final should have been between Gary Goodridge and Carter Williams but Carter was too injured to fight and according to the K1 rules Chalid was back and in the final. This was a really exciting fight. Chalid is in the same fighting stable as Sem, Bas Boon’s Golden Glory. Once again Chalid who was one of the smallest fighters in the Tournament was knocked down but he hurt Gary 3 or 4 times with punching combinations. However it looked as though Chalid was going to loose but then at 2 minutes 30 seconds of the 3rd round he hit Gary with a tremendous right hook and Gary went down, out cold and he stayed on the canvas for about five minutes.


Well the entire Golden Glory team of about 15 to 20 people, the largest stable there, went crazy. We were all standing under a big screen watching the fight and I am sure that everyone felt that Chalid was going to loose, then bang and it was all over. Everyone including Sem and Dave and myself were very excited about the dramatic finish.

Even if Chalid had not won he would have been the fighter that impressed me most. He was great under pressure and when he had an opponent hurt he went after them in a very cool and professional way. I am always impressed by a fight that gets hurt and then comes back and dominates his opponent. He is a great fighter!

The first Super Fight was between Stefan Leko 188 cm 100 kg and Ruslan Karaev also 188 cm and 100 kg. These were two evenly matched fighters and both of them have very good technique. Ruslan seemed a little sharper than Stefan. Stefan was down twice but the second knockdown came from a punch to the back of the neck, which is a foul, so Ruslan should have been deducted a point instead of winning a point. In the 3rd round Stefan caught Ruslan with really powerful right hand punch at 2 minutes 30 seconds of the round, this put Ruslan on the canvas. He was clearly shaken but he managed to get to his feet and hold on to the end of the round. Ruslan won on points but if the 2nd knockdown by Ruslan had been counted as a foul the result could have been different. This was a good fight and it could have given Golden Glory and Stefan’s trainer, who is also the trainer of Chalid, a perfect night. Their renowned trainer is Cor Hemmers the step father and trainer of the Dutch Mauy Thai legend, Ramon Dekkers.


Shian Jonkers -  
Shihan Jonkers - Cor Hemmers (Trainer and Mentor to Ramon Dekkers) - Soke Cook
The second Super Fight was between Musashi 185 cm 102 kg and Semmy Schilt 211 cm 135 kg. Sem had lost a disputed decision to Musashi in his first K1 fight in 2002 so Sem was out for revenge. It was a difficult fight for Sem because Musashi was there to survive and not to fight and I can’t blame him for that because Sem is a very intimidating fighter. Musashi did a lot of holding and although he received an official warning and lost a point in the 2nd round, he persisted with his holding and came very close to being disqualified.

Actually this was a good tactic for Musashi because had he stood and fought Sem he would have been knocked out, which is what Sem wanted to do, so he was a little disappointed with his points victory.

The last Super Fight was between Sylvester Terkay 200 cm 140 kg and Hong-Man Choi 220 cm 160 kg. Although Sylvester is a very big man he looked small beside Hong-Man. Although this was not a technically impressive fight it was an exciting fight and Hong-Man looked better than I had seen him before and he won a close points victory. Both men succeeded in repeatedly shaking the other with heavy punches.
 Shihan Jonkers, Sem, Soke and Jelle watching the fights.   Sem and Peter Aerts
Many of the fighters have held Titles here is a summary of some of them.

Gary Goodridge:
- K1 World Grand Prix 2005 in Hawaii Tournament – Champion
- Former IVC Heavyweight Champion

Stefan Leko:
- K1 World Grand Prix 2001 Semi Finals
- 1999 K1 “Dream” Tournament Champion
- 1998 K1 Europe Grand Prix Tournament Champion
- 1987 World Muay Thai Association Heavyweight Champion

Dewey Cooper:
- WKF World Heavyweight Muay Thai Champion

Yosuke Fujimoto:
- Monster Challenge Heavyweight Champion

Carter Williams:
- 2003 K1 USA Tournament Champion
- 2001 Muay Tai National Champion
- WKA North American Super Heavyweight Champion

Ruslan Karaev:
- 2005 K1 “Mayhem at the Mirage” Tournament Champion
- 2003 Amateur World Kickboxing Champion
- 2003 Amateur European Kickboxing Champion


- Four time Grand Prix Japan Tournament Champion
- Former WAKO World Heavyweight Champion

Semmy Schilt:
- 2005 K1 World Grand Prix Finals Champion
- 2005 K1 World Grand Prix in Paris Champion
- DaiDo Juko World Champion
- King of Pancrase

There are quite a few other titles and impressive fighting records among these fighters.

As always there are rule changes. The Japanese have once again changed the rules on holding and knee kicking and punching. Now the fighters are not allowed to grab with both hands and pull the opponent’s head down into a knee kick. I wonder if they had Sem in mind when they came up with this rule. However the American referees were not as strict on this as the referees would have been in Japan and I prefer the American way of interpreting the rules. I feel that the Japanese referees disturb the flow of the fights with their continual stopping the fights to give over exaggerated warnings, instead of keeping the fight going. This results in the complete opposite effect than what was the original meaning of the rule on holding i.e. to make the fights flow and exciting.

Ray Sefo, Soke and Sem
On the other hand the 3 round idea is very good. It makes for very exciting fights because the fighters have to go full out from the first bell. This results in a higher number of knockouts.

On Sunday we took it easy and did a little shopping and took some photos in the area of the Mirage Hotel where we were staying. On Monday it was back into a cramped KLM plane for the journey home. Bas Boon stayed on in Vegas to do some business. There is talk of Sem fighting Hong-Man Choi in Korea. It was a sad moment saying goodbye to my old friends Dave and Sem and my new friend Jelle.

Soke David C. Cook
Copyright © 2008
David C. Cook, All rights reserved.