Anoop Hothi

Episode 42 – Anoop Hothi aka K1Anoop

In this episode of the podcast Vinny & Eric are joined by Kickboxing journalist Anoop Hothi, also known as K1Anoop. A blogger, writer, journalist, and avid Twitter user, K1Anoop has been covering the Muay Thai and Kickboxing scene in the UK and in Europe for quite some time. A huge fan of K1/Glory rules Kickboxing, we talk to Anoop about the recent Glory Collision card, Enfusion, how promotions can better broadcast their product, and so much more! We also talk a bit about how screwdrivers seem to be the weapon of choice in street fights in the UK, how Eric has never been to a strip club, and other such nonsense. We had fun with this one and lost track of time a bit! Enjoy!

Kieran Keddle on training Idris Elba for his professional kickboxing debut

Two days ago Hollywood actor, Idris Elba, posted an Instagram picture of himself in the sauna with the caption: “Cutting weight, two days before first fight, mind in the right place. Fear NO guy.”

As you can imagine, there has been a media frenzy worldwide and all sorts of reports and rumours about whether the British actor was actually having a professional kickboxing fight, or, if this was simply some kind of gimmick for an upcoming movie or not.

Left to right: Luke Whelan, Idris Elba, Kieran Keddle at Double K Gym

Left to right: Luke Whelan, Idris Elba, Kieran Keddle at Double K Gym

On the K1ANOOP podcast, Idris Elba’s coach, Kieran Keddle (a former three time world Thai boxing champion, Muay Thai Grand Prix promoter, head coach and owner of Double K Gym), confirmed that the reports of Elba fighting in a professional kickboxing fight were true and that the whole experience of Elba’s preparation and eventual fight, is being filmed by the Discovery network for, an upcoming documentary due to air in early 2017.

Idris Elba started training with Kieran Keddle in November 2015 but things didn’t get too serious until the start of this year. The fight is set to happen this October in Thailand under professional ‘K-1’ kickboxing rules which, includes: punches, kicks and knees to the head, body and legs with no head, body or shin protection (apart from 10oz boxing gloves and a gum shield).

Idris Elba’s training for his professional K1 rules debut takes the most recent Star Trek villain and his coach, Kieran Keddle, to various countries around the world, including: Japan, South Africa, Cuba, France, Netherlands, Australia and Thailand which, has all been filmed for the upcoming documentary.

Kieran Keddle spoke in-depth with Anoop Hothi about Idris Elba’s kickboxing ability and his fighting style:

“We’ve actually found that he’s a better kicker than a puncher…and he hits hard but his kicking ability is better than his punching ability”

“Everyone wants to be in thrilling fights but you’ve got then the other side of someone like Semmy Schilt. But let’s look at Semmy Schilt, a four time K-1 winner and a GLORY Grand Slam winner. Wasn’t the most exciting to watch but he got the results and he just used his strengths. You’ve got to weigh up your options. Whatever God gave you I suppose.”

Schilt def. Verhoeven

Semmy Schilt defeats Rico Verhoeven at GLORY 4

“If you’re tall like he is, the jab is everything we’re working off. The jab, jab, jab and of course if its a pepper jab or a strong jab its all leading for giving your range for your legs.”

Idris Elba’s background in marital arts was also cleared up by Kieran Keddle and he described how the two of them were introduced to one another via mutual friend Warren Brown (former Thai boxing champion now actor) and how the documentary came about:

“So what happened is he trained kickboxing 20 years ago and it was a very keep fit like gym and he enjoyed it. And the actual true story is, he did boxing training when he was a kid but his Mum wouldn’t let him do it. So they stopped him doing it and then he went into kickboxing when he was older.”

“It’s something he always wanted to do. He was working on Luther with a good friend of mine and a former world champion, Warren Brown. They got talking and they started training together a little bit…and they stayed in touch.”

Warren Brown and Idris Elba on Luther

Warren Brown and Idris Elba on Luther

“After No Limits series was finished, Discovery turned around to Idris’s production company and everyone around him and said: ‘That was a massive success with hundreds of millions viewers’, went to something like 235 countries, it was massive. ‘Let’s do another season, what else can we do?’ They came up with all these different ideas and Idris went: ‘No, I I want to fight’. The whole thing has been his whole idea.”

“He wants to do it. Guarantee you, hand on heart he wants to do it and to be honest with you, he can do it. He can fight. This is no bullshit or anything like that. Its nothing to do with like, ‘oh you’re getting paid to do it’…or for my ego or whatever that bollocks. It is mainly that he can fight and I want to se him to do well like any student that come into my gym, I want them to do well…He’s been training as much as possible and as hard as possible and I’m hoping the results pay off.”

“We don’t know who his opponent is exactly yet. Its a choice of a few. What’s gonna happen is Idris is gonna have a couple of amateur fights, we hope. I’m gonna gauge whether he’s to have this fight or not. Of course, Discovery and all the people behind us want the fight to happen. I do as well. I think in sparring and the way he’s trained he’s ready to fight but we need to put him in a couple of real life situations and he see how he deals with it.”

Idris Elba kicking the heavy bag with Kieran Keddle overlooking

Idris Elba kicking the heavy bag with Kieran Keddle overlooking

“Theres still 9/10 weeks away and we’ve got Australia and Thailand and I’m literally with him the whole way, give or take a few days. So, I’m hoping to get loads of rounds of sparring in – thats the most important. And that’s also how I think he performs best, with sparring. He likes pad work, he likes all the running. He prefers the real life, someone in-front of him, someone swinging at him…We’ve got a nine week camp ahead of us and I believe he can do it.”

“And the documentary, although its about fighting and thats the reason why myself as a fan would watch and you would watch and a lot of my friends would watch who, are fighters, I think thats only a little bit of it. This program you’re gonna see really what he’s like as a person and thats what I liked about the whole project. And what I’ve learnt along the way about this world that he’s in is crazy and you’ll see it as well.

“And like I said, its not just about the fight. Its about him, you’ll meet his family. You’ll see parts of the world that we go to together but the reasons we go there are not that we go there randomly, we go there for a reason. There’s a story behind everything as well and you’ll get to know his history and he’s open about things because theres a camera there, he’s not holding back.”

David Haye on the wrong end of a playful right hook from Idris Elba

David Haye on the wrong end of a playful right hook from Idris Elba

David Haye (former WBA world heavyweight champion and undisputed world cruiserweight boxing champion) is a friend of his, came to watch him and didn’t think it wouldn’t be real. And then when he started training and hitting pads and things he realised, fuck! This is no WWE thing. This is no put in against someone whose not trained before. He’s going to fight someone who has had fight experience before.”

“He’s going to be 44 when he fights…I’m preparing [sparring partners] now [for Australia]. He goes this weekend [to Australia] and I go the following. So. I’m going to bring in four or five guys. I’m hoping in-between 80 to 100 kgs because he’s about 90kg, he’s a big dude. So, I’m going to sort that all out in the next couple of days but he has been sparring with my boy, Luke Whelan. He’s been sparring with Jack Mason, John McGuire, former UFC fighter. In South Africa he sparred Francois Botha (former IBF world heavyweight champion and K-1 veteran)…and then there’s various other people in the program that you’ll see he spars with. When we go to Thailand we’re going to be bring some people with us as well…it’s exciting.”

Francois Botha defeated K-1 legends, Jerome Le Banner (pictured) and Peter Aerts

Francois Botha defeated K-1 legends, Jerome Le Banner (pictured) and Peter Aerts

“There’s things that have shocked me and been quite controversial and theres an amazing amount of drama. The whole thing which Ive appreciated about is, nothing, nothing has been scripted and its been eye opening. And I think that the most important thing for me is, its going to open up fans to the sport.”

“If a 44 year old man can fight, whether he win, lose, draw or even gets knocked out and commit this kind of training then its going to inspire a lot of people. He does inspire a lot of people anyway, you know. He’s a man that has come from nothing and made himself a Hollywood actor and you’re gonna find out all about that as well so thats pretty cool. So, he’s an inspirational person.”

Watch the full K1ANOOP interview with Kieran Keddle below about Idris Elba training and making his professional kickboxing debut:

Is China the future of world kickboxing?

Over the last couple of years, China has emerged as a regular destination point for international combat sports, especially kickboxing.

However, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when taking into consideration two main factors: Firstly, the ageless history of martial arts tradition and knowledge that has originated from China; and secondly, the fact that the Chinese economy has grown tremendously over the last decade and a half (despite any uncertainties it may currently face).

The two main Chinese fight promotions that are well known outside of China are Kunlun Fight and WLF. Both have the ability to attract international kickboxers to fight in China and have had the likes of, current GLORY heavyweight champion, Rico Verhoeven and former GLORY featherweight champion, Gabriel Varga fighting in China.

Recent events by both Kunlun Fight and Wu Lin Feng (WLF) have included the following match-ups:

Kunlun Fight 43 (15th April 2016):

Artur Kyshenko vs Murthel Groenhart

A rematch between two titans from their previous encounter in the, K-1 Max 70 kg Tournament Final in 2012 which Groenhart won by KO, and the two of them had been training partners at the time at Mike’s Gym. Kyshenko would get the better of Groenhart this time via unanimous decision (UD) after an extra round.

Sittichai Sitsongpeenong vs Mohammed Hamicha Moojte

This was the 4-man (qualifying) tournament final on the night, which for the winner, would secure a place in the 8-man Tournament later in the year. Sittichai is widely regarded as the best kickboxing /Thai boxing lightweight in the world right now and has given plenty of elite kickboxers in his weight class a torrid time. However, Moojte, who is based in the Netherlands, gave Sittichai a rough time and even knocked him down in the first round with an uppercut. Sittichai would secure the win eventually after an extra round by UD, but Moojte’s profile has significantly increased since then (his name was spelt differently by Kunlun as ‘Mohammed Mezouari’).

WLF – Glory of Heroes (2nd April 2016):

Isreal Adesanya vs Alex Pereira <==CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO OF FIGHT

Adesanya is from New Zealand and is a very skillful and exciting kickboxer to watch who, is also pursuing a career in MMA as well. Pereira is a Brazilian kickboxer who, made the transition from boxing to kickboxing in recent years. Both have fought for GLORY in the past and have come a long way since then. The winner by unanimous decision was Pereira, which did surprise me at the time.

Enriko Kehl vs Yi Long <==CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO OF FIGHT

Yi Long is probably the most famous Chinese kickboxing monk in the world and Kehl is the K-1 World Max 2014 Tournament winner (as a result of Buakaw leaving the ring when an extra round was called for) and is from Germany. Four of Kehl’s last six fights have either been under the Kunlun or WLF banner, however, Yi Long would get the win by unanimous decision.

Josh Jauncey vs Xu Yan

British Canadian kickboxer, Josh Jauncey, was the winner by delivering a devastating left head kick knockout in the third round. Jauncey has been on a recent run of good form since his loss (by unanimous decision) to Giorgio Petrosyan at GLORY 25 last year. As for Xu Yan, he is a multiple Sanhsou Chinese champion and was the more experienced fighter having fought in Japan for ‘K-1’ as far back as 2008.

Fabio Pinca vs Yinghua Tie <==CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO OF FIGHT

French-Italian Muay Thai legend, Fabio Pinca, who had previously won the Lion Fight welterweight title in 2013 by decision over Malaipet Sasiprapa, had been on a five fight win streak prior to this fight but lost by split decision to the home fighter.

Andrei Ostrovanu vs Zhang Dezheng

Ostrovanu is of Romanian descent (but if I am correct, has grown up in England) and won by unanimous decision. He is a young kick boxer who, I can recall was fighting on regional kickboxing shows here in the UK with some powerful performances not too long and then went onto fight Mohammed Jaraya in Enfusion (he lost that fight by stoppage but he certainly challenged Jaraya)

As for Dezheng (the home fighter), from what I’ve seen of him in his fight a couple of years ago with the explosive Australian, Brad Riddell, he’s a durable fighter and no pushover.

Here is his fight with Riddell:

From the above seven match-ups, 10 of the 14 fighters are known reasonably well in the western world by kickboxing enthusiasts.

The quality of international kickboxing match-ups by the Chinese has certainly been of a very good level – some may say that they have even managed to deliver better match-ups than GLORY at times.

It certainly is very interesting times for kickboxing in China and with regular shows throughout the year being hosted by the Chinese – especially Kunlun – it can only help the sport of kickboxing to develop on a global scale which has been a struggle in recent years since the financial crisis a few years ago that brought ‘K-1’ to its knees and the rapid growth and popularity of MMA.

Kunlun aren’t complacent with simply hosting events in China alone. They recently hosted Kunlun Fight 44 on the 14th May in Russia and their following event, Kunlun Fight 45, will be in South Korea on the 22nd May 2016, before they then return to China on the 6th June 2016.

Can the Chinese sustain a financially viable operation of not only promoting international kickboxing events and a spectacle of a show, while continuing to attract a wealth of fighting talent from around the world? Only time will tell but I know that I’m certainly not the only one that hopes that they will, for the sake of breathing long term life back into the world of kickboxing.