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What's happening with K-1 attendance?

     Watching the last K-1 events I noted a lot of empty spaces in the crowd. The are no more full stadiums in the gratest stand-up event of the world. The official K-1 site informs that the attendance of the Qualifying GP in Tokyo were just 4.137 people. In the past, events in Tokyo brought more than 70.000 people to the events. Whats happening with K-1 audience?

Not only the qualification GP's are suffering of a little number of people on the crowd, the WGP FINAL is showing the same "problem". I made a research and here follows the list of the attendance of  5 WGP finals of the last years. You will see what I'm talking about:

2001: 65.000 people (Tokyo Dome) (Hoost, Leko, Lebanner, Hunt, Ignashov, Pettas, Filho, Aerts)

2002: 74.500 people (Tokyo Dome) (Sefo, Aerts, Sapp, Hoost, Hunt, Leko, Musashi, Lebanner)

2005: 58.213 people (Tokyo Dome) (Bonjasky, Choi, Sefo, Lebanner, Aerts, Musashi, Karaev)

2007: 17.667 people (Yokohama Arena) (Schilt, Choi, Lebanner, Feitosa, Hari, Bonjasky, Aerts, Sawayashiki)

2008: 17.823 people (Yokohama Arena) (Aerts, Hari, Bonjasky, Teixeira, Saki, Zimmerman, Lebanner, Karaev)

Three years before = more than 55.000 people on Tokyo Dome, nowadays = just about 18.00 people on Yokohama arena. How is it possible?

The top level fighters (Bonjasky, Lebanner, Aerts and others )are still there, so what has changed?

. Was K-1 wrong when changed the Final from Tokyo Dome to Yokohama Arena?

. Is the new generation of fighters not meeting the expectations of the japanese public?

. Has the Schilt era as champion made the public lesse xcited than before?

. Is the world crisis and the lack of money making people think about other priorities?

. Is the TV stealing the audience, who prefers to watch the events home?

I was very excitted about the Qualifying Gp in Tokyo: A lot of talented fighters, a tournament remebering old times, K-1 back in Tokyo. And wath I saw was a lot of empty places in the middle of the audience. and just 4.137 people there.

I have no money to go to Japan, but if I had, I would go to all the GP's. The love for K-1 is not the same of the last years? Or are there a lot of factors contributing to make k-1 less brighter than before to be watched alive in Japan?



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Rodrigo Mello (53 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-14 at: 08:25
I hope you enjoy my first arcticle. If somebody has an answers to the low attendance of the last years please post it.
Kim, Editor (1548 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-14 at: 10:25
@Rodrigo Mello

Hi and welcome as an active member of FansOfK1.com!

Interesting data you put togheter. I don´t live in Japan or have any good explantions but I hope 2007 was all time low, and from now on it only gets bigger. Cheers!
(40 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-14 at: 10:39
The capacity of tokyo dome was 55k while yokohama has only 17k, i think they could sell more tickets if it would held in another stadium. But i think as u right said that K1 has lost a bit of attention thats why they changed to yokohama..maybe. But maybe the japanese public is missing a good japanese fighter like musashi who was in the k1 finals where most people watched as i see in 2002 you posted! K1 needs a revolution, something like the Final grand prix held somewhere else than in japan, maybe in europe or the best place holland, because there are a lot of great K1 fighters from, a full stadium would be garanteed. Maybe this would bring more people in europe to K1 or make japanese missing K1 so the need for it will grow for the next year there! hehe :D
Alex Evdokimov (138 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-14 at: 10:44
@Johnny Snickers

True, true. Holland would be a great venue.

Alex Evdokimov (138 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-14 at: 10:49
Hi Rodrigo,

I noticed that as well last time - lots of empties. Don't know why actually, surprised me as well. I usually see a packed place on such events. I don't think it's the lack of Japanese fighters - the quantity of Japanese has been similar throughout the years, about 1 per GP, so that's probably not it.

Maybe the Japanese are simply losing interest? Same champions again and again, same top fighters for the last 10 years... Maybe they need a Japanese champion to boost the interest?

Anyway, interesting article, thanks,


Chrzan_ko, Video editor (749 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-15 at: 06:29
I've been asking this question myself for a long time. I think some of the reasons are:

1. Late 2002 - Ishii was arrested for fiscal fraud (it was something to deal with the infamous ficitional contract with Mike Tyson)

2. 2003 - after Ishii's blunder K-1 was touched by financial troubles and some top fighters left organization (Cro Cop, Hunt, Filho).

3. Hunt and Cro Cop switched to MMA for good and turned out to be the new icons of PRIDE FC, which grew to be the premiere fighting promotion in Japan and raised its own superstars like Fedor, Nogueira, Silva, Gomi or Saku - in consequence many original K-1 fans followed them and got more into MMA.

4. After 2002 the level of competition in K-1 generally decreased. Ask people who followed K-1 for some time which period in K-1 they regard as the most exciting. Many of them will tell you it was before 2002 or 2003.

5. 2005-2008 Schilt's total domination made K-1 WGP a bit boring, the core of top fighters was every year the same: Le Banner, Sefo, Aerts, Bonjasky, no new blood, more fans lost interest in K-1 again.

And I'm affraid that's not all. If you consider for a bit longer you'll maybe find more answers.

Now things have started to change. Hari and some other fighters brought the winds of change and K-1 MAX is more and more exciting every year. There's hope.
davcol (311 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-15 at: 09:37
the worldwide financial trouble is also a factor. i noticed that dynamite 2007 had twice as many in attendance as 2008. FEG seem more interested in their mma company at the moment which is frustrating for k-1 fans to say the least.
Daniel, Sweden reporter (2501 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-15 at: 02:14

I think you make a very good here, lets hope that Badr truly is the new "Jesus" of K-1 and brings back the fans to the sport hehe
Ali (322 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-15 at: 05:58

very sicely said, I hope it gets better
ThisIsDan (36 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-15 at: 08:23
How does WGP numbers compare to Max? Could it just be a transition?
Pablo (795 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-17 at: 02:31
Maybe it's just a 'natural' issue, everything has its ups and downs. I'm impressed and very much agree with the complete analysis by Chrzan_ko, trying to ascertain the main causes which may have affected in any way, with historical perspective. I honestly think there's not much to worry about, for new blood keeps entering the K-1 sphere and thus it's only a matter of time for them to consolidate their position and their attire to public attention, thus possibly leading to a good effect on the box office.
By the way, real invaluable posts by Rodrigo Mello!
Cdn Mongoose (1425 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-18 at: 05:41
Poor marketing eventually has caught up with K-1. No global tv deals. Poor online merchandise stores.

Add poor marketing to aging superstars and the increase of mma and you have a recipe for problems.
Perhaps a poor economy in Japan has slowed sales, but you can not deny the bad reputation FEG deserves. Look at how long it took to announce this years tournaments.

K-1 needs more events. The UFC runs monthly events. K-1 need more exposure of its brand in order to grow.
Chrzan_ko, Video editor (749 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-18 at: 10:24
@Cdn Mongoose

Oh yeah, I forgot about marketing. When they held K-1 WGP in Lodz this year, there was almost no coverage in Polish mainstream media. Hence there was no surprise that the biggest kick-boxing event in Central Europe had only 4000 in attendence.

As to more events: Don't you think there is not enough tallented fighters to organize events every month (especially in WGP)? They have already problems to find decent participants for regional GPs.
Rodrigo Mello (53 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-18 at: 08:28
In 2006 when we were still in the Schilt era the numbers of the final event were 54.800 people. The first year in Yokohama brought just 17.667. The numbers sharply fell. So I just cant undestand why FEG still organize the final in Yokohama. This year the final is goning to be there again.

Dan asked if it was not just a transition to K-1 Max:
I don't think so... look at the numbers:
2005: 17.720 people
2006: 16.918
2008: 15. 231

(K-1 world max who never had a enourmous attendance is still having lower audiences through those years.

Take your own conclusions.
Cdn Mongoose (1425 posts)
Posted: 2009-08-18 at: 08:48
Remember you do not need 6 main events like the WGP or Max final 8. All you need is two big names for the main event some semi popular for the fight before the final fight and some interesting undercards.

An event like Badr vs Remy as the main event.
Petro vs anyone as the next to final fight.
and 6 other fights mixing both max and WGP fighters would be a good example.

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Rodrigo Mello

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