Ignashov, Schilt, LeBanner Lead K-1’s Return To Paris and Pay Per View

May 16, 2005
Russian knockout artist, Alexey Ignashov (71-8 (38 KO’s), and 6 foot 11 inch, 287 pound Dutch giant, Semmy Schilt (52-9-2 (41 KO’s), highlight the lineup of eight martial arts fighting champions who will vie for the K-1 “World Grand Prix 2005 in Paris” single-elimination tournament crown at Paris, France’s Paris-Bercy arena on Friday, May 27th.

The event, which will air live on Pay Per View television in The United States, will also feature a three-round “Superfight” between K-1 veterans, Jerome LeBanner (52-9-2 (41 KO’s) and Cyril Abidi (25-14 (17 KO’s).

The victor of the annual Paris playoff two years ago, the 6 foot 5 inch, 260 pound Ignashov will make his first start of the year after piecing together another solid season of action in 2004. Known best for his punishing knee strikes, the 27-year-old will take on Japanese kickboxer, Noboru Uchida (14-6-1 (9 KO’s) during the tournament’s quarterfinal round of battle.

The second contest in Ignashov’s end of the tournament draw pits the wiry and dangerous Aziz Khattou of Belgium against Chalid “Die Faust” of Germany.

Schilt will be put to the test during the tournament’s opening round by one of the sport’s more extraordinary physical specimens in Czech Republic native, Petr Vondracek (44-18 (23 KO’s). A kickboxer by trade, the 28 year-old Vondracek made a splash debut in “The New Fighting Sport” three years ago by defeating three consecutive opponents in Milan, Italy to take hold of the K-1 Grand Prix tournament crown there. At 31 years of age, Schilt, the largest documented athlete in combat sports, has made a mark in K-1 by claiming victory over the likes of three-time K-1 tournament champion, Michael McDonald, and reigning K-1 World Grand Prix king, Remy Bonjasky. A member of the famed, Holland-based martial arts fighting squad, Team Golden Glory, Schilt has also dabbled in the world of professional boxing where has earned wins in all five of his starts.

The other bout in Schilt’s tournament bracket will see Japan’s Nobu Hayashi square off with France’s Freddy Kemayo. A stocky powerhouse who has been schooled in both traditional martial arts in his homeland as well as in Muay Thai in Thailand, the 27-year-old Hayashi has ascended to the top echelon of Japanese martial arts fighters during his six year stay in the world of K-1 by defeating nearly every rival contender that shares his heritage.

LeBanner’s return to the squared circle will come two months after he pulverized Japan’s Yoshihiro Akiyama during the main event of the highly-publicized K-1 “Hero’s” event in Saitama, Japan. A two-time runner-up of the “World Grand Prix Finals” tournament staged annually in Tokyo, Japan’s 70,000 crowd capacity Tokyo Dome, the 32-year-old International Sport Karate Association (ISKA) World Superheavyweight Muay Thai champion has long been a favorite of martial arts fight fans around the globe.

The winner of the quarterfinal round matchup between Ignashov and Uchida will meet the victor of the bout between Khattou and “Die Faust” during the event’s semifinal round while the winner of the matchup between Schilt and Vondracek will face the victor of the bout between Hayashi and Kemayo during the semifinal round. The survivor of each semifinal round contest will face one another during the tournament’s championship round.

The live Pay Per View television broadcast of K-1 “World Grand Prix 2005 in Paris” will commence at 9:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (6:30 PM Pacific Standard Time) on Friday, May 27th. K-1 is a martial arts fighting sport that derives its name from its inclusion of a wide array of combat disciplines, including Karate, Kung-Fu, and Kickboxing (“K”), and its intent to determine one champion in one ring (“1”). After being staged for the first time in Japan in 1993 under the direction of founder Master Kazuyoshi Ishii, it later evolved into the country’s most popular sport and achieved popular culture status there as its athletes turned into larger-than-life celebrities.
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