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K1 adds women’s fighting

A bit of unexpected news but always welcome:

The hybrid kickboxing MMA company K-1 held a press conference yeaterday to announce that they are starting a women’s division. And to herald this announcement, K-1 producer Sadaharu Kanigawa announced that the first women’s match will be on the Mar. 20 show in Seoul, Korea. Kanigawa said they haven’t decided what the women’s division will be called or the start date but it will start in 2009.

The decision to do this was influenced by the popularity of women’s kickboxing and by the celebrity status of amateur women’s wrestling champs Saori Yoshida & Kyoko Hamiguchi and Kanigawa’s recent encounter with them. The match in Korea will have 23 year old Korean Lim Su Jeong (pictured) against 17 year old shoot boxer REINA. Lim has a 19-5 Muay Thai record with 8KOs and has been a South Korean Bantamweight Champion. She is also an actress and recently appeared in the 2008 film Ong Bak 4: Chocolate. REINA is a regular in Shoot Boxing. So obviously they are playing to the Korean fans.

K1 joins Strikeforce and Bellator as the latest promotion to add women’s fights, although who knows how serious they’re going to be about developing a proper division right now. Also, Kanigawa talking about his inspiration being a couple of amateur wrestlers is strange indeed. Does this imply perhaps that DREAM will include women in their shows as well? That would be a pretty massive shift for the Japanese fight scene, but desperate times call for desperate measures.