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November 17, 2003 Observer Newsletter: Bob Sapp vs. Akebono, death of Crash Holly

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What will likely turn out to be the most heavily publicized non-boxing combat sports match of all-time will headline the biggest one-night promotional war in history.

The 11/6 announcement by K-1 of a New Year’s Eve match pitting Bob Sapp against legendary sumo Akebono (Chad Rowan) was the biggest press conference in company history. More than 17 television stations and 300 reporters attended the press conference where promoter Sadaharu Tanigawa announced the ultimate checkmate in a brewing New Year’s Eve war. The news was so big in Japan that three of Japan’s six networks (TBS, NTV and TV-Asahi) broke into regular programming to telecast the press conference live. It was carried in major newspapers throughout the U.S. and was the topic of conversation on numerous sports talk shows (many of which reported, including the London Times, Los Angeles Times and New York Post that Akebono’s opponent would be Mike Tyson; and the Los Angeles Times reported that K-1 was “so brutal that it is illegal just about everywhere”). 

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