The June 2 mixed martial arts card at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum was ballyhooed as having the potential to catapult the hot new sport even farther onto the U.S. sports landscape.
Instead, the "Dynamite" event backed primarily by Los Angeles-based ProElite Inc. and K1 provided a clear indication that the youth-skewing sport is going through some major growing pains.
Despite heavy cross-promotion by K1 parent Fighting Entertainment Group, ProElite, Showtime Networks and Japanese backers, the event drew just an estimated 15,000 fans to the 90,000-seat Coliseum.
The event was in limbo practically upon the opening first bell. Just days prior to matches, FEG was still struggling to obtain a license from the California State Athletic Commission, in part because FEG had failed to submit the bond necessary to cover fighters' purses, fueling concerns over their ability to come up with the event's estimated costs of $2 million including commission and Coliseum use fees. The commission refused medical clearance to three fighters on the FEG card, including Korea's 7-foot 2-inch Hong Choi-Man, a major marketing draw.
"This was not easy; it was very painful, said Gary Shaw, one of the event's promoters. "To say anything less than that would be a lie."
The show went on, though it was hardly an artistic success. The topliners, including a sub for Hong Choi-Man, drew boos for lackluster performances. And Johnny Morton, a former football star in the NFL who was making his debut in the sport, was knocked out in the first round and taken away in an ambulance.
Promoters had hoped to sell between 30,000 and 40,000 tickets to the event, and fill the Coliseum by distributing another 50,000 free tickets. Tickets to the event ranged in price from $10 to $100.
Viva Las Vegas
The Latin Grammy Awards are moving to Las Vegas. The event, broadcast on Univision, will be held Nov. 8 at Mandalay Bay. Nominations will be announced Aug. 29.
In 2005, the Latin Grammy Awards aired for the first time on Univision and entirely in Spanish. Last year's telecast reached 11.3 million viewers. The telecast is shown in more than 100 countries.
Staff reporter Anne Riley-Katz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 225.
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