K1 fighter Badr Hari (24), gave a bow of respect to Peter Aerts after he defeated him during the K1 finals. Remy Bonjasky on the other hand got a kick to the head when he was already down. Badr Hari explains why Aerts did gain his respect, but not Bonjasky.
People warned me that you hate journalists. Why is that?
There is a strained relationship between me and journalists. I'm an emotional guy, saying things before thinking and I never bothered with mediatraining. This can come across as strange to journalists. (quiet pause..) You know what? I actually think journalists are just a bunch of sensation seekers.
Aren't you one as well?
Yes, that's true. And that's not even such a bad thing. Because it's something people like to see or read about. But it shouldn't come at someone's expense every time. A few times I've been put in a very bad light by the media, so it's only logical that I've become a bit more cautious when it comes to journalists.
You're very popular in Japan. Does K1 require a 'bad guy'?
Of course, but so do journalists. If not, you'd have nothing to write about the whole kickboxing scene, right? Nobody likes seeing a Remy Bonjasky fight a Sem Schilt. But everyone wants to see Badr take on Sem. Now why is that?
Do you consider yourself the successor of the French enfant terrible Jerome Le Banner? He's also been known for his showboating.
Something like that. Jerome knows what people are hoping to see when they come to watch a match.
But under all of Jerome's outward display, there's a person with a soft demeanor.
I don't consider myself a bad guy either. I love the sport and I'd do anything to keep it at its current level and to give it my best in the ring. But more often than not, I get butchered because of it. I can probably count on a massive whistle concert after the Bonjasky-incident. They can do whatever they want.
Yes, why did you go on your knees in front of Aerts and bowed in worship after you beat him, but treated Remy Bonjasky to a fist and a kick after he was already down?
Because one is a real brawler and the other just isn't. Remy sure is a fighter, but he isn't a brawler.
Isn't that considered a tactical fighter?
Well, they taught him how to fight, you see what I mean? I don't like that sort of thing. I prefer guys who fight from their hearts. A good example is Peter Aerts. Before he gives up, he's already been to hell and back three times. I wouldn't mind losing from someone like that. But Remy read it all in a book. You have be willing to get down and dirty, play outside even if there's mud everywhere.
Are there two kind of fighters? Fighters who consider a win by descision as honourable as a knock-out, such as Remy Bonjasky and Ernesto Hoost? And fighters like you who don't care about points and always go for 'the kill'?
Absolutely. You have the tactical guys, although I do feel that Ernesto has a lot more character than Remy, and you have the real brawlers. Which doesn't imply we are any less tactical. We're willing to take the bigger risk and go the extra mile. I want a fight to be sensationable. I want to see people sit on the edge of their seats. Which they'll only do if the coin can drop both ways.
What sort of emotion caused the kicking after he was down?
You know, at that kind of moment, I'm absolutely charged with energy. I go intro the ring filled with rage. I'm walking in a storm, if you know what I mean?
On the 16th of May you will be fighting Sem Schilt. What kind of rating would you give him?
I'd give him a 6.5 out of 10.
The three time world champion?
My rating has nothing to do with his achievements. If I'd rate him purely on his achievements in fighting, it'd be a 10. But the 6.5 expresses what I think of him in terms of his value to the crowd. And that's still pretty high. I don't think the Dutch crowd would even give him a 3. Because Sem simply isn't a sensational fighter. Not fun to watch at all. But he is a hard worker and not a quitter. He receieved a lot of criticism on his fighting style, but he keeps on fighting. Other people would have gone off top lay football of tennis, but not Sem. And that's admirable.
Do you consider yourself a rolemodel?
For who for God's sake?
For the troublesome Maroccan youths for instance?
Not at all, I do not want to be anybody's rolemodel. I just want to be me. What you see is what you get.
Is the bad-guy-image a role you play?
If I wanted to play a role, I'd have become an actor. I'm being myself. But occasionally I'm being portayed in a bad manner, while all I'm guily of is having a free will of my own. I just don't do what people tell me to do.
Did you ever regret an ill considered action?
Yes, of course. I always say: regret is wisdom that has been learned too late. I'm not going to dwell on such things.
What kind of kid were you, growing up?
I was a very nice kid.
Ha, ha. Yeah right…
All right. I was a little rebel. But I always had to listen to my mothers. I've been raised properly. If I do a bad thing, I don't need someone else to point that out to me, I'll know it.
Did you know if after that action against Remy?
Yes. I thought it was deserved that I was tossed into the corner by the referee and that I was scolded for my actions. I could understand all of that. But at a certain point, Remy started to abuse the situation... When I was stuck in the corner waiting, I heard the people around Remy say: stay down Remy, stay down. For me that was the turning point. That's where I started to get a little mad. I felt that he shouldn't have done that to me or to the crowd. Look, from their point of view, the financial one, I understand. But if I'd have to earn my money in that manner, I'd say no.
In the end, it was you who gave him the opportunity to play it out like that.
I started it all, without a doubt. I gave him that kick. Stupid. But you can't change that. But if I had receieved that kick, I would have gotten up. I'd have given him an elbow ten seconds later. Then we would have been even and it'd become one large brawl. Better for the crowd, better for us.
Have you spoken with him afterwards?
I've talked to his trainer Ivan Hippolyte afterwards and he told me that Remy was broken after the incident,he hated it. Hippolyte literally said: Remy is not a brawler who gets up at a moment like that to go through hell together with you. That's now who he is. That's why I advised Remy to stay down. And well, I still don't agree with it.
So you haven't spoken to Remy since then?
No. But I do think he regretted it afterwards. He earned his 400.000 dollars, but deep in his heart he knows he probably should have played it differently. He didn't earn any respect with it and because of this he is now scolded by certain people.
By you as well?
Yes, by me as well. But he really crossed the line. He milked it and people aren't blind. They all saw what happened. And if he wants to become champion like that: rather him than me. I have more respect for Sem in that case. He never cries or whines and just keeps on fighting.
Is that why you challenged him for your next fight in the Arena?
Yes, I would really like to fight a real brawler. Sem is really strong and he always fights for all he's worth.