November 11, 2018 … Oh! What could have been!

The last day of Brunei’s very first amateur K-1 kickboxing and boxing tournament never came to be.

The Day 2 events and the final bouts of the tournament were abruptly cancelled following an altercation that occurred outside the ring the previous day. As expected, the footage had gone viral on social media. (This was NOT the fight that people had gathered at The Airport Mall to see!)

Indeed, this was disappointing news for not only the organiser – STRIKE (@strike.bn), a Brunei-based fight sports promoter – but also the athletes of various combat clubs and boxing gyms (both locally and from abroad) and their supporters.

However, all was not lost.

As far as Neue is concerned, everyone who was involved in the ‘STRIKE: Battle of Pride’ tournament came out true winners.

In all respects, it was a true show of unity and sportsmanship despite the setback.

We Can Be Heroes

For instance, there were acts of heroism.

Khalifa Mixed Martial Arts (@khalifamixedmartialarts) released the following official statement on its Instagram account: “Khalifa means leader. We chose and take our name very seriously and live by it. Not only are our athletes trained for combat for self-protection and to protect those around him, but we also ensure that our athletes are trained to uphold good, moral values and leadership qualities. Therefore we do not condone any type of behaviour or violence of any kind that deviates from our core beliefs.

“In true leadership form, our athletes from @khalifamixedmartialarts only stepped in to diffuse the altercation between two individuals from escalating any further to ensure the safety of the public. Contrary to the inaccurate reports last night (Saturday), our athletes did not pursue any violent behaviour.”

Combat Sports Gaining Popularity 

Another thing that was clearly evident was the strong showing of local support for the event.

“I was amazed at how much pull this event had. It truly attracted quite a crowd,” said a Bruneian who got herself ringside seats for Saturday’s event.

When asked to comment about the incident that occurred outside the ring, she said, “It’s sad that the final day of the tournament was cancelled the following day. All because of the actions of some uncivilised people? How sad!”

According to her, the event should have been postponed and not cancelled entirely.

The Sport Promotes Discipline & Respect

There’s no denying it: Combat sports is gaining popularity, especially in the local scene. Just take a look at number of combat clubs and boxing gyms cropping up across the country.

We here at Neue still firmly believe that the future looks bright for combat sports to flourish in Brunei (despite last weekend’s setback).

To those who say that combat sports tournaments only promote violence, I would counter argue and say, “What about martial arts competitions like Karate, Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?”

At the end of the day, combat sports are supposed to promote discipline and respect. After all, the ring is the only place where all the action happens. At the end of a round, there will be one winner and one loser. And it all ends there.

Click on photo to read Neue’s previous article: 10 insane moments in sports history

‘Violent’ & ‘Competitive’ Not Same Thing

John Kavanagh, the coach of the infamous Conor McGregor, the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight and lightweight champion, in a Twitter post back in 2016, reacted with some vehemence to a tweet that touted a match for its  “beautiful violence.”

McGregor’s coach went on to say that at the end of the day, it’s sports. After a contest, there is a winner and a loser, he said, adding that there are no victims like there are after a violent assault.

Have Your Say!

Were you at The Airport Mall last Saturday? Did you witness the fight ‘outside’ the ring? What are your thoughts about the future of combat sports in the country?

Drop a line in the comments section below or reach out to Neue on Facebook or Instagram.