Superkombat Fighting Championship and Respect World Series are two of Europe’s better known kickboxing promotions, with the financial power to attract Heavyweights like Benjamin Adegbuyi and Ismael Londt. Despite this drawing power it has emerged that a number of fighters have recently come forward alleging non-payment from these promotions.
The time period over which the various non-payment allegations range from are: as recent as Respect World Series 2, July 2 in London but go as far back to, Superkombat World Grand Prix 3 which, was 17 months ago.
At Respect World Series 2, Jamie Bates suffered a nasty cut above the outer left corner of his left eye in his fight against Ciprian Șchiopu. The fight was stopped by the referee resulting in a TKO defeat for Bates who, required 45 stitches.
According to Bates, not only did he have to make his own way to hospital afterwards to receive further medical attention to his cut. He also alleged that he hasn’t been paid five months after the Schiopu fight. Also, Bates explained how he was last contacted by a representative of Respect who, is also a referee, ‘about a month ago’ with an update on when he can finally expect to be paid.
“They’re supposed to do an event in December and pay everyone from the profit from that. How much profit are they gonna make? They gotta pay [Arnold] Oborotov, Daniel Sam, the other Portuguese dude and me. People should know really, you know what I mean? They should know, they should know. Its not plain sailing getting paid from these promoters. He’s called, Isop Mihai Teodor [the referee from Respect], he rang us.”
“They knew they weren’t going to pay us before the fight so how can they let someone go through with it and not pay them?”
“I can’t see us getting it anyway. It would have been nice to have got me expenses. They did give me a hotel room like but I paid for all my food because they were taking the piss. I paid for another hotel room like for my other coach just for him to drive us back. It cost us you know but bollocks.”
Professional kickboxing doesn’t always pay the most rewarding purses to the majority of fighters. It’s usually the elite kickboxers with the added benefit of having celebrity status such as Badr Hari who, can command and attract more lucrative fighting opportunities and sponsors. The main reason for this is that kickboxing doesn’t yet have the mainstream media coverage that both pro boxing and MMA benefit from on a global scale.
Therefore, attracting a large volume of high revenue turning sponsors (for both promotions and fighters) that believe they would potentially make a worthwhile return on investment, is more challenging within kickboxing compared to boxing and MMA.
Also, ticket sales are the another stumbling block – ask any professional kickboxer if they had ever thought about the stress and strain selling (enough) tickets would cause them at times (before turning pro), to cover their overall training costs, treatments and travel?
Some might be fortunate enough enough to receive a decent purse whereby, if the number of tickets they sell are low they won’t severely diminish what they take home after the fight (from earring commission off ticket sales). However, the harsh reality is that this isn’t always the case for the majority of kickboxers who, are striving for that GLORY contract and payday to change their lives forever, like it did for Joe Schilling.
Due to the generally low levels of prize money throughout kickboxing (excluding the top prize money on the biggest promotions around the world e.g. Kunlun Fight) and the number of fights that one can humanly fight let alone be matched-up for at a time, the majority of kickboxers have to supplement their professional kickboxing career with a secondary source of income – just like Jamie Bates who, is a part-time falconer.
Most kickboxers that make-up the bulk up of fight cards you’ll come across online, need to hold down a regular job to financially support themselves and their families. For example, GLORY kickboxer and K-1 champion, Murthel Groenhart works as a personal trainer and fights on the world stage as a professional kickboxer.
So, unless you’re fortunate enough to have had the support to develop a worldwide public profile like Rico Verhoeven and attract global conglomerate sponsors, most kickboxers have to manage working a normal job whilst: training, dieting, resting and recovering as a full time professional athlete (and have some degree of a normal life too).
‘No rest for the wicked’ but above all else, professional kickboxing is an extremely demanding and challenging career; especially if you want to achieve the commercially viable rewards found only at the very top.
Arnold Oborotov fought on Respect World Series 2 and won by decision against Turkish kickboxer, Gökhan Gedik. Unfortunately, Oborotov is another kickboxer alleging that not only hasn’t he been paid by Respect; also, two of his fellow Bloodline Gym training buddies: Kaz Mwamba and Domink Matsuz who, both fought on the same show, haven’t been paid either. Any hope they had of eventually being paid has gradually faded away too.
“Yes, me Kaz [Mwamba] and Dominic [Dominik Matsuz] haven’t been paid too. You can add our names. I heard the December rumour… Really doubt its going to happen though.”
Gedik trains out of Mke’s Gym and everyone in world kickboxing knows that’s where the “Golden Boy” is currently preparing for his ‘Collision’ with Rico Verhoeven. Back in 2013, Oborotov fought Badr Hari as a very late replacement (with only a few days notice) in Dubai on GFC 2. The power and experience of Hari was too much at the time for a younger and less experienced Oborotov.
Although GFC ceased all operations as a short-lived and overly hyped kickboxing promotion, there weren’t any reports about them not paying their fighters or failing to look after them properly either.
Daniel Sam has been fighting professionally for almost a decade and has fought for two of the most established promotions in world kickboxing i.e. GLORY and Enfusion Live. He has also fought for both Respect and Superkombat and first fought for the latter when they initially emerged in the European circuit back in 2011.
“The Warrior” is yet another UK based fighter claiming that he too hasn’t been paid by Respect for his decision win over, Vladimir Toktasynov on July 2. He also last fought for Superkombat earlier this year when they made their US TV debut for broadcasting the first event they had hosted in Puerto Rico. However, the historic moment was overshadowed by alleged non-payment issues for Sam:
“With Superkombat it was a case of being fobbed off with excuses being given about the problem being with the Puerto Rican promoter. Although my contract was not with anyone in Puerto Rico so it’s on Superkombat to cover the the purse and honour the contract. I have fought on superkombat 6x and had never experienced any problems with them until the Puerto Rico event in March 2016 vs [Cătălin] Morasanu.”
“Respect World Series just didn’t pay and didn’t respond to anyone who I know in chasing up their fight money.”
Dutch heavyweight, Colin George who, trains at Mike’s Gym with Badr Hari, had fought on Superkombat World Grand Prix 3 which, was 17 months ago. When reflecting on his experience with Superkombat, George angrily lambasted the promotion with an expletive-laden tirade, alleging that he hadn’t been paid for his fight against Romanian kickboxer and politician, Cătălin Moroșanu.
Of all of the kickboxers that have come forward with their allegations of not being paid by either Superkombat or Respect, Colin George has endured the longest ordeal for non-payment amongst the various kickboxers. This would explain his anger, crude words and resentment towards Superkombat:
“Superkombat?! fu-k superkombat! Hell yeah! put my name in capslock, COLIN GEORGE!!!!!”
Last but not least, Michael Terrill recently announced his retirement from professional kickboxing in-favour of future bareknuckle boxing fights. One of the contributing reasons for making such a decision (apart from the obvious new challenge it will be for him) were the prolonged difficulties he allegedly experienced, in finally being paid a year after fighting for Superkombat.
“I kept emailing them over the Facebook messenger and they would say, ‘it’d be in next week, it’d be in next week’. Just it wasn’t coming. I’m sure there were a couple of lads from Romania as well, we were all emailing each other as well. From the Vos Gym, I think Francois [Lubbers] was having problems. I think there were a few. So, everyone refused to fight on their show. I never got paid for a year.”
“It was funny when I did get paid, I had to go into Ramsdens [Jewellers], to get my money through Western Union. Very professional.”
“The do give you a good platform to fight on. Its probably one of the bigger shows in Europe. Do get noticed but you still need to get paid for what you doing. Especially when you training two or three times a day. People don’t realise how expensive just eating is. Eating right is expensive and you’ve gotta train and then your waiting for your money. It’s disheartening. You get to the top and you’re waiting a year and it just puts you off the sport.”
There are always two sides to a story and prior to this article being published, MMA Plus did approach both Respect and Superkombat to comment on the accusations being made by various fighters. As of publishing, we have had no response.