Jan 13, 2008

Sabah Mulls Over Introducing K-1 As Tourism Sport

Sabah Mulls Over Introducing K-1 As Tourism Sport

KOTA KINABALU, Jan 9 (Bernama) -- The Sabah government is exploring the possibility of introducing K-1, a popular martial arts fighting sport in Japan, as one of the tourism sports to woo more foreign tourists to visit the state.

State Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Karim BUjang said Wednesday this was because the K-1 had become one of the world's fastest growing sports, particularly in Japan with about 40 per cent of its population watching K-1 sporting programmes on TV.

K-1 fuses martial arts such as karate, kung fu and kickboxing (the "K") into a modern sport to determine the single best stand-up fighter in the world (the "1") and K-1 rules allow its fighters from many different disciplines to complete.

"K-1 is quite popular in Japan so much so that they have established the K-1 Fan Club with quite a large following and I believe this is one area that we can tap as far as tourism in Sabah is concerned.

"Maybe we can promote K-1 as a tourism sport in Sabah and we hope we can attract more members of the K-1 Fan Club from Japan to come here," he told reporters in conjunction with Japan's K-1 Fan Club tour of Sabah from January 7 to 14.

Joining them are three of K-1's famous fighters -- two-time world heavyweight champion and four-time Japan champion Mori Akio, 35, Mori Tomoyuki, 33, and Yasuhiro Kazuya, 31.

Their trip to Sabah, dubbed the Land Below the Wind, was made possible by Malaysia Airlines Tokyo and H.I.S Co Ltd, the official ground handler for K-1 Fan Club tour in Kota Kinabalu.

At the function, Karim also extended an invitation to the K-1 Fan Club to send representatives together with their fighters to showcase their skills at the Commonwealth Tourism Sports Conference to be held here for five days begining May 28.

Meanwhile, manager for K-1 Fan Club tour Naomi Nishiwaki said they would consider sending representatives to the tourism sports conference to help promote K-1 in Malaysia.

"We will extend the necessary assistance to make it a reality...we are trying to help Malaysia," she said, adding that the K-1 was a popular martial arts sport not only in Japan but also in other countries such as the United States, Australia, the Netherlands and Hong Kong.


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