It’s tough to stand out in the crowded combat sports industry, but the newly-launched promotion Extreme Kumite International Championships (EKIC) is already doing just that.
EKIC is the brainchild of Edward Simpson, Mark Goldstein and Jeff Arcio, and features an impressive list of brand ambassadors and advisors like former Strikeforce champion Cung Le and UFC Hall-of-Fame Stephan Bonnar.
EKIC strives to set itself apart in a number of ways, first and foremost with the sports it showcases. The upstart organization will promote traditional boxing, bare-knuckle boxing, and Kumite.
At this stage, most fight fans are familiar with boxing and bare-knuckle boxing. Kumite, however, will be a completely new experience for fans.
While EKIC’s founders and decision-makers are still hashing out the exact rule-set for Kumite, the sport is expected to look a bit like MMA, sans gloves, and in a special enclosure—not a cage or traditional ring.
“For Kumite, we’re going to have a particular ring,” EKIC CEO and President Simpson said on the latest episode of BJPENN.com Radio. “It’s not going to be a cage. We’re not dog fighting. But we work very closely with boxing commissioners, international commissioners. We’re working with professionals and experts on the rule system. Basically what it is, it’s an MMA freestyle [bout] with no gloves. It’s the purest form of combat that there is.”
“We’re looking at the rulesets of MMA right now to see how we might modify it to make it different,” Simpson continued.
“We’re going to have a custom designed ring for this,” added Executive Vice President Goldstein. “We want it to be more open and visual than having a cage.”
At present, the team at EKIC is scouting world class boxers, bare-knuckle boxers, and martial artists to populate its roster. The organization is open to signing established names, but is also placing a lot of importance on growing its own stars.
While many of those athletes will likely choose to stick to one discipline, EKIC welcomes its most ambitious fighters to drift between boxing, bare-knuckle boxing and Kumite. In fact, the team would love to see one fighter win gold in all three arenas.
“The first hour and a half that we launched the website I had something like 175 direct messages and emails from fighters wanting to fight,” Simpson explained. “That’s the truth.”
“If big names want to come in initially, that’s fine,” Goldstein added. “We’ll probably be doing that. We are talking to people, but the ultimate goal is to develop our own system—sort of like how baseball does it. That’s our goal. We want to have fighters start with us and finish with us.”
Goldstein’s comment alludes to another way EKIC plans to differentiate itself in the jam-packed combat sports industry. The team intends on helping its athletes make healthy livings in competition and outside it, by providing lucrative opportunities in the film and television industries.
“Currently, we have signed with four different production feature film companies,” said EKIC Executive Vice President Jeff Arcio. “We have three projects that will go into production around September-October. Action films. We’re going to be able to offer our fighters parts in those. We’re going to give them not just fighting and training [opportunities], but we give them acting lessons, things like that as well. We’re going to offer all that to them. It’s up to them to do it, but we’re going to offer all that as well and have these productions for them to get involved in from a supporting role or extra role to a lead acting star. [These are] things that no fight organization has done. We will be doing that with these people from TV and film, and we have these projects already in motion.”
Arcio continued, pointing to MMA stars like Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Randy Couture, who have both landed major film roles, as an example of the kind of success EKIC fighters can look forward to. EKIC fighters, he explained, have the opportunity to become “the ultimate action star.”
Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s unclear when EKIC will be able to promote its first event, but the team behind the organization is hard at work preparing for that inevitability.
They’re forecasting a blockbuster debut. There’s even talk of an exhibition match between Cung Le and MMA legend Frank Shamrock occurring on the card.
Whatever the case, the EKIC team is confident the promotion will become a household name among fight fans and a sought-after home for fighters in the near future.
“[We’re going to be] a premier combat sports promotion,” said Simpson. “A really traditional combat sports company that brings everything from boxing to bare knuckle, and then also the films we put out. We’re going to be, globally, a force and an area that people can flock to to see the movies and watch the fights as well. And for the fighters, it’s going to be somewhere they can really make a home for themselves.”