"It's a ton of work": Interview with the creator of Liverkick.com Dave Walsh
Англоязычная версия ранее опубликованного нами интервью с Дэйвом Уолшем – создателем известного портала Liverkick.com.
ACB KB league regularly acquaints you with various fighters and coaches, but the hero of today's interview is truly special person. We want to introduce you to Dave Walsh – creator of the well-known portal Liverkick.com. This website has become a real home for all the kickboxing fans. After reading our interview you will see that Dave is one of the most interesting people and a real expert in the field of martial arts.
- Hello, Dave. I'm sure, that at one time you were an ardent fan of K-1, but how exactly you started to love kickboxing? How kickboxing became your occupation?
- I started watching kickboxing in the mid-90's, when I was a kid taking Kenpo Karate lessons. A few of us were talking about a UFC event and our instructor laughed and said that UFC fighters were nothing compared of K-1 fighters. I borrowed a tape of the '94 K-1 World Grand Prix from him, saw Peter Aerts' run in the World Grand Prix and fell in love.
- You are the creator of the famous Liverkick site. Nowadays there are not so many resources about kickboxing, and your portal is truly help for all the fans. Process of creation and promotion of a website was hard for you?
- In about 2008 I was writing about MMA and starting to feel burn out on the sport. I had been watching since the 90's and followed it religiously, but realized that my passion for it was waning. I also realized that I had a lot of fun watching K-1 events, still, and had kept up with a lot of promotions outside of K-1, like other European kickboxing shows. There weren't a lot of great resources for kickboxing in English and I found myself going to Japanese and European websites, translating the information that I was looking for all for myself and figured, why not do this for other people, as well? People were immediately interested and while the site went through a few iterations, the response has been overwhelming, always.
- Are you a fan of kickboxing of the 80-ies? What about Ramon Dekkers, Toshio Fujiwara and other legends?
- Yes, I've always dug deeper into the sport and had fun doing it. That being said, I'm still partial to the style that developed from K-1 and continues on to this day.
- By your opinoin, what has changed in kickboxing of the old era, and in modern kickboxing?
- The sport is perhaps a bit stuck in the past right now. The idea of three three-minute rounds came about thanks to K-1's tournament format, even their older super fights were longer affairs. The same can be said with their clinch restrictions thanks to fighters like Sem Schilt and Buakaw "slowing down" fights. A lot of these rules carry over to today and there's simply no need for it.
- What can you say about the development of kickboxing in our day? What best world promotions are doing wrong?
- The worst modern attempt to change kickboxing has to be the smaller, four-fighter one-night tournaments. I've written about this at length and I just don't find them exciting. Fighters that I've spoken with don't like fighting in them and fans don't seem to really get excited by them. The classic 8-fighter tournaments, though? Everyone seems to like the idea of those.
There's also a lack of embracing what made old K-1 so popular, which was pro wrestling-like presentation. Something about Japanese video production just felt so interesting. In a three minute video I could go from not caring about a fight to being excited about it, without even speaking Japanese or understanding the language. That sort of cultural transcendence doesn't exist today in the sport. Everyone looks to UFC and boxing as the gold standard and truly, it's sort of boring.
– Martial arts are among the most popular in the world. Glory is regularly organizing exciting matches, but why ratings and salaries of this promotion are not so ideal?
- They are a promotion without a home, essentially. They put on good shows, have a good, smart staff and some of the best fighters in the world. Yet something feels like it's missing from the equation. They're trying to push into the US market, which is understandable, but haven't found the right formula, television partners or platform yet. In Europe individual fighters are popular in their home regions, but not popular beyond those borders.
Their events don't feel like big deals, either. Even the big year-end event felt like just another event but with more fights and a big one (Rico Verhoeven vs. Badr Hari).
- Some Glory fighters claimed that this promotion fails to pay them big fees, and does not allow to fight regularly. These trends marked the end of the Metamoris bjj promotion, so don't you think that in Glory can be such bad situation too?
- I think that they are fine, for the most part. Most kickboxing promotions have something really, fatally wrong with them, be it fighter management being on the company payroll, biased matchmakers or even dubious political or criminal connections within the company. They've done a good job of keeping their noses clean, which is important, and I don't see them going anywhere soon.
- Are you waiting for the return of Badr Hari? It's look like he doesn't intends to finish his career.
- Nah. There are a lot of fans still interested in seeing him fight, but personally, I'm not. The sport already has a questionable image around the world and the most popular fighter in the sport having a long legal battle over attacking an older man at a nightclub and essentially ruining that guy's life is not the image that the sport needs.
If he was ever repentent it could have been a great story, but most of his fans and most of the European media refuse to hold him accountable. I don't think that he likes me much because I've had a rather consistent opinion that if he's really going to be the "bad boy" that he's a black eye on the sport, but at least I'm consistent?
- Do you think that his imprisonment ruined his fighting heritage?
- I think that Badr Hari ruined his fighting career and that there's nobody else to blame but himself. He'll always be the "what if" of the sport. What if he got it together and won one of those K-1 World Grand Prixs? What if he ever won an actual world title? What if he had stayed active? What if he hadn't assaulted downed opponents? What if he hadn't attacked that guy in the club or that waiter that one time?
He'll always have these stories attached to his career and sadly it's his own fault.
- Do you have any plans to make on your website a registry of all kickboxers with their records of fights, as it did Sherdog and BoxRec?
- I actually started a project like this prior and the database got corrupted thanks to a server outage. The backups that I had were kept serverside and that's the last time that I ever make that mistake again.
At this point LiverKick is still a relatively small operation and I'm not sure that starting up a database project again would be a reality with how little time I have. I know that Kiksie.com has been trying to catalogue more of this stuff and I know a few people trying to launch kickboxingdatabase.com to do exactly this. Which is great if they can pull it off, but it's a ton of work. A ton.
- Who from modern fighters do you like? Who do you consider the main star of modern kickboxing?
- My favorite modern fighter is probably Cedric Doumbe. He's that rare blend of talent, skill and charisma where I not only like to watch him fight, but I like to hear him talk as well. But at the same time, I love a lot of the smaller Japanese fighters like Tenshin Nasukawa, Takeru and Masaaki Noiri.
Rico Verhoeven would have to be the biggest, active star right now, although that says more about where the sport is globally right now than anything else. He's great, but he's sort of a polished, clean-cut good guy and doesn't have a big, main foil of any sort. Peter Aerts had Ernesto Hoost, Remy Bonjasky had Badr Hari, Masato had Buakaw and so on. There really isn't anyone else on his level other than perhaps Badr Hari and we know how complicated that is.
– Let's talk about kickboxing in Russia. What Russian promotions and fighters do you know?
- Russia is probably one of the few places in the world that is consistently pushing kickboxing and trying to promote it for what it is. I think that we've seen Russian kickboxing be great and also seen it be questionable, like LEGEND was. There's a lot of political stuff that gets wrapped up into it, more than I should probably talk about, but it's been what keeps western fans at a distance.
That being said, it's hard to deny how many great fighters have come from Russia or made a name there. Guys like Artem Levin, Artem Vakhitov and to keep with the Artem theme, Artem Pashporin looks really good right now. But no, obviously there are other fighters like Dzhabar Askerov, Sergei Kharitonov, Ramazan Ramazanov and others who have done a lot to put Russia on the map in kickboxing.
As for promotions, Tatneft Cup has probably produced some of the best talents in the world over the years, pound-for-pound, while I've always been partial to watching W5 and ACB shows as well.
- Name your TOP 5 p4p kickboxers.
Of all-time, I wouldn't even know where to start.
– Tell a few words to our readers.
- Keep watching kickboxing, enjoying it and showing it to your friends and family. You can also check out my personal site, http://dvewlsh.com for the other stuff that I do, mainly my novels, which you can and should buy.