Andy Hug - Gone But Not Forgotten
K1 legend Andy Hug was known in Japan as the ‘Blue-Eyed Samurai’, a nickname given by by K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii. The popular and influential martial artist who defeated many of the sport’s most famous names died ten years ago in Japan. Here is some information to honour his memory.
in Japan. Here is some information to honour his memory.
Andreas ‘Andy’ Hug was born on September 7, 1964 in Zurich, Switzerland. His father, Arthur was a foreign legionnaire, who lost his life in Thailand without ever seeing his son. He rarely saw his mother Madelaine and together with his brother Charly and sister Fabienne, grew up with his grandparents in Wohlen.
At the age of six, he started his sporting career by playing soccer and was even selected to play on the Swiss National Under-16 team. The start of his martial arts career which would see him rise to World fame started at eleven when he began practicing Karate at Wholen Karate school under Werner Schenker.
He attended his second World Championships Tournament in 1987. In the semi-finals, he defeated opponent Akira Masuda and for the first time in the history of Kyokushinkai, a non-Japanese fighter was competing in the finals.
Andy lost the fight by a controversial points decision to Shokei Matsui. As early as 1988, Andy had become a trainer for the Swiss national team, passing on his knowledge and experience to other competitors from his home country.
The fifth open weight division Karate World Championships took place in 1991 at The Budokan in Tokyo. In his third fight, Andy faced Francisco Filho. In the closing seconds of round three, just as the bell rang, Filho landed a high kick on the side of Hug's head and knocked Andy to the floor. Karate Master and founder of the Kyokushinkai, Mas Oyama concluded that the strike was legal.
It was later confirmed that although Filho's kick had indeed struck after the bell rang, he had thrown the strike before the time was up and Filho was still declared the winner.
Andy continued to fight in Japan with success and began to grow extremely popular. His technical diversity, spectacular aesthetics, tactics and strength impressed the fans. On August 28, 1993 Andy married Ilona in Inwil. Around the same time he changed styles from Kyokushinkai to Seidokai Karate and making the jump from being an amateur to a professional fighter. Later that year Hug competed in his first WGP tournament. A few months prior to the tournament, Hug defeated Branco Cikatic making him the favourite to win by Japanese fans but Andy was upset by American kickboxer Patrick Smith in a first round stoppage.
In the autumn of 1996, Andy was struggling within himself that he wasn't able to win the K-1 World Grand Prix. In his second fight at the 96 WGP Finals he met Ernesto Hoost and won by decision. In the final, Andy was matched up against Mike Bernardo.
After his two defeats to Bernardo in 1995 Andy was determined to beat him and was ultimately successful, winning via spinning low kick, securing his first and only WGP title. Andy Hug reached the K-1 Grand Prix finals again in 1997, where he lost to Dutch kick-boxing legend Ernesto Hoost by decision. He made it to the 1998 WGP final as well, where he lost to Peter Aerts by KO, although he became the first fighter to ever make three consecutive WGP finals.
In the first half of that year, Andy provided his fans with sensational fights. However at the World Grand Prix, fate wrecked his plans. In the second bout, he was up against Ernesto Hoost. As early as in the first round, the groin injury that he had sustained a month earlier became acute. This handicap was so severe that he could not employ his legs as he was used to doing, and dropped a decision. In Japan he was given the name "Blue-Eyed Samurai", even though he had brown eyes. He was the only K-1 fighter ever to be rewarded an honorary samurai title by K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii. His last fight was against Nobu Hayashi on July 7, 2000.
Andy's body was cremated and his ashes deposited in the cemetery of the Hoshuin temple in Kyoto, Japan.
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