Badr Hari: Young and Hungry
Interview and photos courtesy International Fight Agency
At just 22 years of age, Defending K-1 Heavyweight Champion Badr Hari is the youngest of the eight fighters competing in the Dec 8 K-1 World Grand Prix Final. The Moroccan kickboxer earned his spot by beating Doug Viney in Seoul on Sept 29. The morning after that KO victory, a relaxed Hari chatted with IFA.
IFA: Badr, you have something of a reputation as an "enfant terrible," Where you a bad boy when you were young?
Hari: Ha ha. I just liked to have fun like all kids do. I still like to do that, and maybe some people mistake that as 'bad'. But as a kid, I wasn't so bad.
IFA: Would you consider yourself a good role model for kids?
Hari: No, I don't think so! I don't see myself as a role model, I think you just have to be yourself. But if some young people see me as a role model that's ok. If I had kids, and they liked me, I would be glad, because I don't let people tell me what to do, I do what I like to be happy, and maybe that's a good role model.
IFA: When did you first know you were going to be a fighter?
Hari: When I was seven years old, I was living in East Amsterdam, 'the ghetto', lots of a Moroccans. There was a gym next to my house. I didn't do any other sports, but training there was cheap. My father knew I could spend the whole month there and it cost nearly nothing, so that's how it started.
IFA: When did you realize you could make fighting a career?
Hari: I liked fighting from the beginning, but in the beginning you don't know if you are going to become a professional. I just liked to fight. When I was 14 or 15, I dropped out of school but I didn't drop out of training, I stayed with training because I liked it. And then this success happened and I got where I am, and I'm just happy now!
IFA: How do you train these days?
Hari: I do a lot of cardio training, jogging and sprinting, strength training, all kinds of conditioning, also diet. I do everything, different techniques. I stil like the gym and I'm training six days a week, sometimes till five o'clock I'm in the gym, I eat in the gym!
IFA: You're only 22 years old, you have been accused of not respecting veteran kickboxers…
Hari: Well, what is 'respect'? I don't have any heroes in kickboxing. But that doesn't mean I don't respect them. Maybe some fighters got the idea I don't respect them because I want to fight them, and some people think that's strange. I think we are in this business to fight each other and I'm not afraid to say it, and to challenge them. They think I have no respect because I challenge them? Hey, if I don't challenge them, if nobody challenges them, then they have no work tomorrow. Come on, this is the fighting business and we have to fight!
IFA: One hour before a fight, do you meditate, do you pray, any special preparation?
Hari: One hour before a fight I just prepare by focusing myself. Of course I pray a little bit, I'm religious, Muslim. But I don't pray to win, I just pray to stay healthy, because that's the most important thing in this business, to stay healthy.
IFA: Going to the Grand Prix Final in December, what's your biggest asset?
Hari: The other guys in the final are very strong, but I'm very young and I'm very hungry. I just want to win this very bad. My age is a big weapon for me, but also because I'm young, I know if I don't win it this year I can do it next year, or the year after. Because I'm young that lets me be patient, that lets me relax.
IFA: Your first opponent will be Remy Bonjasky, who has some pretty good legs.
Hari: In my preparation for that fight, I don't think I have to adjust anything for Remy, I just have to do my thing. I'm not worried at all about his knees or about his kicks, but I think it's going to be a very interesting fight.