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13/11/2007 - 16.22

HERE TO STAY

For the first time, kickboxing in the Asian Indoor Games in Macao

 

HERE TO STAY!

 

The WAKO tournament obtained the success that everyone expected and it has now been included among the official sports of the Asian Olympic Committee and its activities.

 

By Ennio Falsoni

 

Just a few months after my first trip to China I find myself here again, this time in Macao. This little strip of land, just 28 square kilometres, was a Portuguese colony for over 200 years and is now, like Hong Kong, part of China with special status. To get here there are no direct flights from Italy, so I first had to fly to Bangkok and then on to Hong Kong from which I took a ferryboat to Macao. It was a 24-hour journey, but well worth it.

Macao is well on its way to being one of the most famous and frequently visited places in China, not for its natural beauty as much as because it is known as the Las Vegas of the Orient. In the few kilometres of the “strip”, like in Las Vegas, enormous skyscrapers have sprung up which are nothing but casinos.

The Olympic Committee of Asia (OCA) invited me to be present for the opening ceremonies of the second Asian Indoor Games and they put me up in a suite in the biggest hotel in the Orient, “The Venetian”.

When I arrived near the skyscraper hotel, I nearly went into shock when I caught a glimpse of St Mark’s bell tower, that’s right, the tower of the most famous basilica in the world after St. Peter’s. But that’s not all: the entire hotel is surrounded by the same buildings as St. Mark’s Square, from the Palazzo Ducale to the Palazzo delle Carceri. Obviously it’s all an enormous façade, a huge remake complete with canals and gondolas and gondoliers who row and sing to the delight of the millions of tourists who come from all over. At the centre of this reconstruction of Venice is the huge hotel, a 30-storey skyscraper with 3000 rooms that can sleep at least 6000 people at a time. It is a monster of cement and steel, but with all the rooms and the never-ending corridors painted in Venetian style with those light blues typical of Tintoretto, the frescoed ceiling, gold everywhere. In other words, it’s China alla Las Vegas – an insult to good taste, also because it’s all fake.

What is truly amazing is how much space and money are involved. I had the good fortune of playing golf, during a break in kickboxing activity, with a man from Singapore who works in the Venetian’s financial department, the most important aspect of any company, including in the gambling business.

The company that built the Venetian is American and is owned by a certain Mr. Anderson, who is one of the richest men in the United States after Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. The Venetian in Macao cost 3 billion US dollars to build, but incredibly the investors think they will recover their investment in just 5 years.

However, the message that the architect wanted to give to the world with such an undertaking is quite clear – in place of St. Mark’s Basilica, around which a civil society was born and developed, as in all Italian medieval cities, he created the new temple of a modern society that couldn’t be the Church, but instead a huge casino that is the new holy sanctuary of modern times, with everything projected towards seeking success and wealth. The huge casino, among the largest in the world, is in the heart of the building on the ground floor. It can be reached from everywhere and is a sea of gaming tables.

The Venetian of Macao was the headquarters of the Asian Olympic Committee and the hotel itself was all I needed to realize how far we have come in Asia, which certainly will play a leading role in the near future of human history.

I was there because I had been invited as the president of the WAKO world federation to see up close the kickboxing competition (in only 3 fighting disciplines – semi, full contact and low-kick) that the OCA had inserted as a demonstration sport. Needless to say, it was very important for the future of WAKO to be successful at Macao.

I will start by saying that all the participants did their part and at the end everything was perfect and running like a Swiss watch. The highest officials of the Asian Olympic Committee came to our tournament and left convinced that WAKO knows what it is doing and that we have an interesting and exciting sport that is enjoyed by the public. Therefore, we have already been confirmed as an “official” starting with the next Asian Games.

Nasser Nassiri (president of WAKO in Iran) and I had worked hard in preparation of our appearance in Asia. We chose some of the best countries we have in that part of the world, only nine of them. In order of medals won, they finished: Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, the Philippines. Each nation could bring a maximum of 15 athletes, 5 per specialty in 5 weight divisions, men only. We wanted to give the most complete idea possible of our fighting disciplines which are divided into “tatami” and “ring” competition, and I think we succeeded. We have wide disparities of technical ability: the Central Asian countries, like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are strong in the ring disciplines while Arab countries, for example, are stronger in competition held on a tatami, like semi contact. Thus, the distribution of medals sufficiently satisfied the needs of everyone involved.

The domination of Kazakhstan both in full contact and low-kick was overwhelming: eight gold medals, three silver and 4 bronze in 10 weight divisions. Kuwait won four gold medals, 1 silver and 3 bronze in semi contact, while Jordan was third overall with 3 gold medals (2 in the ring and 1 on the tatami), 4 silver and 6 bronze. Kyrgyzstan, India and Iraq won the remaining medals, but everyone left Macao convinced that something good and long-lasting had begun – something that could take them a long way because in those countries economic support from their various national Olympic Committees is essential for their survival.

 

For the record, here are the winners of the Macao tournament.

 

Semi contact

57 kg.- Almathkori Mohammad (Kuwait)

63 Kg.- Alotaibi Jasem (Kuwait)

69 Kg.- Alhandal Meshal (Kuwait)

74 Kg.- Aljafari Nader (Giordania)

79 Kg.- Almajadi Hasan (Kuwait)

 

Full contact

57 Kg.- Tnalin Amir (Kazahkstan)

63 Kg.- Abuhasoah Aday (Giordania)

71 Kg.- Darkanbaev Alexey  (Kazahkstan)

75 Kg.- Belgibayev Azamat (Kazahkstan)

86 Kg.- Yemelyanov Georgiy (Kazahkstan)

 

Low-kick

57 Kg.- Kudaibergenov B. (Kazahkstan)

63 Kg.- Ibrayev Maxut (Kazahkstan)

71 Kg.- Artykbayev Bobirzhan (Kazahkstan)

75 Kg.- Nurgaliyev Nurlan (Kazahkstan)

86 Kg.- Salim Hamza (Giordania)