Another side to the Bob Sapp Story
Written by Brett Atchley
Monday, 29 May 2006
There has been a lot of speculation going around about the current state of K-1 as an organization. With the recent incident of Bob Sapp walking out of K-1’s last event in Holland at the last moment, despite being in the main event with Ernesto Hoost rumors have been swirling.
What was shared with me over hours of conversation over days with a source that asked to go un-named was nothing short of unbelievable. The source is someone who is as close to the organization as one can get and the source conveyed, “If this is written accurately, K-1 will know it to be the truth and will have no doubt as to its origin,”
What this individual heard was that although the events that transpired were over a very long period of time he would agree to condense and provide me with the readers digest version. Two hours later and in the company of a very irritated wife, ( I went to see the DaVinci Code and she ended up watching it alone) I learned more than I ever expected, in terms of what goes on behind the scenes of the K-1 organization from this source, from his perspective. Maurice Smith also reinforced and substantiated much of what was shared with me as well, as he was and still is Bob Sapp’s trainer.
On May 13, 2006 a strange turn of events took place when much to the surprise and shock of some 25,000 unsuspecting fans, Bob Sapp initiated a very bold move and told Toru (K-1’s Attorney) he would not be fighting and walked out of the venue with his hands taped. What was reported on a website was that he walked out in an air of cowardice and false injury. What was also implied was that Sapp was doped up! How absurd is that, considering in Amsterdam narcotics are on many levels, not only an accepted part of society, but legal?
Bob Sapp was under a pre-existing fight contract with K-1 for a 20 fight contract, and he fulfilled that contract and his fight with Hoost, would’ve been his 22nd fight for the K-1 organization. His agreement with them was to renegotiate with K-1 on his 21st fight, with the promise of a substantial bonus, and the promise a new contract would be in place by his 22nd fight.
One week before the Hoost fight was to take place, K-1 and the promoter of the Holland event, (Simon Rutz) contacted Mr. Sapp, summoning him to Amsterdam to fight Ernesto Hoost in the main event. They promised in good faith that a new contract had been drawn up by the K-1 counsel and would be available for his review in Amsterdam, and that the money which was reported to be in the $500,000.00 range, would be deposited into his account or in escrow before his arrival to Amsterdam. When Mr. Sapp arrived in Amsterdam four days prior to the event there had been no monies deposited, or in escrow, so he contacted the organization in Japan with his concerns. Sapp told MMA Ring Report, “Japan is in opposition to Amsterdam in terms of time zone so it was the middle of the night and everyone was in bed, which was bullshit, it’s four days before the fight, I have no contract, and they are not getting their lazy asses out of bed to take care of this! We lose another day and the clock is ticking. We get a hold of K-1’s attorney (Toru) and the promoter (Simon Rutz) to find out what the skinny is. The promoter does not know, and the attorney says he is going to get it all taken care of.”
As days pass and the event approached, Sapp is of the climate that all will be worked out. The day before the fight, Mr. Sapp approaches the K-1 attorney (Toru) to ask him where the new contract is. The attorney was, in prior days, very personable, light-hearted and optimistic about the current situation. When Bob inquired further, he was told in no uncertain terms, that he did not know what was going on with the contract and to leave him “the fuck alone!” He further stated, “look Bob, I’m not your friend, this is not a friendship, it is business and that is just the way it goes. I will let you know when I know something.” Mr. Sapp was visibly and emotionally disturbed and insulted by the mentality that he just been exposed to. It was apparent to him that distance was being placed between himself and the organization. Mr. Sapp always felt that his relationship with K-1 was more than just a business relationship; he had after all been more than generous in the past with K-1 helping them promote at no cost to them. “The “Beast” promotions were promoted on the shoulders of Sapp and had done very well because of that, he had even made sure that each of the participants were very well taken care of, to the lengths of offering them items such as flat screen TVs, DVD players and digital cameras, independent of the purses. It was out of his own pocket, and he felt a fierce loyalty to the organization and wanted the athlete’s to be treated as professionals.”
All in all the point made was that he was nothing but a product that was to be put in his place and not forget who buttered his bread. This is where it got to a point of complete senseless behavior by the K-1 hierarchy. “They would not engage him. He finally was able to make his point to the promoter Simon Rutz, what his intentions were. They were as follows; Bob would fight Hoost for nothing if it were agreed that K-1 release him completely from all current and future obligations, or that he be presented with the promised contract that they were in severe breech of, signed by the K-1 matchmaker, Sadaharu Tanigawa. His demands were then conveyed to Mr. Tanigawa. Sapp was told the night before the event that he would have his contract and agreed upon purse by the promoter. This was reportedly, suppose to happen the next morning. Mr. Sapp had his own contract drafted just to cover his bases.
The next morning Sapp began his day as usual, doing various appearances and making himself visible to the promotions public and fan base. He was present at all press conferences and photo shoots, it seemed as though all would be as promised. They (Simon Rutz, the promoter and Tanigawa, the match-maker) relayed to him that it would all be resolved. Less than 4 hours from the start of the event nothing had been done. Sapp would not go to the venue, he took a firm position that he would not participate in the event unless he had a valid contract of some nature.
Two hours before the event was to commence Sapp got a call from Simon Rutz, begging Sapp to come to the venue and was once again assured that everything would be in order. He would go to the venue. When he got there he was met by both Tanigawa and Toru (the K-1 attorney) and directed to go to his dressing room to get ready and taped, they would be there with the documents containing within them a new contract. They would not agree to let him out of organization, and indicated that they would make good on their promise of the before mentioned agreement and compensation.
In the dressing room Maurice Smith began preparing Sapp for the fight. He began taping Sapp’s hands. “Some time had passed and nobody had shown up, he was dressed down, taped, jock, cup and shorts, ready to rock Ernesto’s world. Nobody had shown up, so the contract he had was taken, and off Sapp goes out to the venue with contract in hand. He can’t find K-1’s attorney. Toru just quit answering his phone and kind of disappeared placing a larger amount of distance between himself and the volatile situation. He catches up with Toru and shows him the contract, Tanigawa is present and Sapp is waving this contract around demanding for it to be signed or that they give him one. There was never a contract from K-1, and Tanigawa along with Toru say that they need an American to interpret the contract, that’s just bullshit. It’s not happening, Bob was being put in a corner and they gambled that he wouldn’t stand his ground. It was a pressure boiler of a situation. Bob Sapp and Maurice Smith along with the entourage in tow walked over to Toru and Dieasuke Karaguchi (a K-1 representative) and further reinforced the seriousness of his intentions by grabbing by the shoulder of Toru telling him in an angered tone, “this is all your fault mother fucker and I’m out of here.”
“Complete chaos and pandemonium commences. It was crazy, people are yelling, screaming, fighting, and crying. We had to get out of there. He was told before he could leave by both Toru and Karaguchi that if he did not fight, his physical well being would be compromised and those that were with him. We got the hell out of there as soon as we could. We got back to the room and a call was made to a well known billionaire who immediately arranged for eight bodyguards to see him and his team safely out of harms way.”