In loving memory of
the best Kyokushin fighter ever
There are precious few heroes in this world, and we were
privileged to come to know a very special one in our
beloved Andy. He was only a few weeks short of his 36th
birthday, when he suddenly died. Shihan Andy Hug will be
sorely missed by many, not only in the martial arts
was born on 7th September 1964 in the small village of
Wohlen in Switzerland. Because his mother was unable to
care for him, Andy was immediately given up for adoption.
Andy Hug spent the first years of his life in an
orphanage, until his grandmother took over his care at
the age of three years old.
Andy was only 19 years old when fought in Japan for the first time, at the Kyokushin 3rd World Open Tournament in 1983. Andy was newcomer and a young talent, and he impressed the whole world with his unique fighting skills and technique. Four years later, at the 4th Kyokushin World Open in 1987, Andy made it to the finale by easily defeating big fighters like Masuda from Japan and Ademir da Costa from Brazil - both of whom have passed the ultimate test in Kyokushin, the 100 men kumite.
The 4th World Open finale was a fight against the two best technical fighters ever in the history of Kyokushin: Matsui and Andy. It was the first time ever that a non-Japanese fighter was in a World Open finale, and today Kyokushin karate-ka and fight lovers around the world still talk about the big finale, and about the outcome and the result. But no matter the result, Andy opened a new area for European and western fighters, and showed the world that by hard training and true skills, anybody can become a champion. To a lot of people, Andy was the true winner of the finale, and should have been the champion of the 4th World Open Tournament.
later, on 17th September 1988, a special Kyokushin
karate event was held in Sursee in Switzerland. It was
the 1st International Super-Cup, which had been
organized by the Swiss Karate Association. Kyokushin
competitors from Japan, Great Britain, Netherlands,
Hungary, Germany and Spain fought in the tournament.
Before the vice-world champion, Andy Hug was to fight
against Kenji Midori from Japan in the finale (Kenji
Midori became the 5th Kyokushin World Open Champion in
1991); Andy defeated Siegfried Elson from the
Netherlands in the semi-finale. The most exciting fight
of the evening was undeniably the finale between Andy
Hug and Kenji Midori. After two extension rounds, Andy
Hug was declared as the winner of the fight and the
The same year Andy Hug left the Kyokushin organization, he
became World Open Champion in Seido karate, by winning the
finale against Taiei Kin on 5-0 judge decision. One year
later, in 1993, Andy was again in the finale in the Seido
World Cup, by wining on TKO against the famous fighter
Nobukai Kakuda in the opening rounds. The finale was a
fight against the Japanese champion Masaaki Satake. It was
a finale where Andy Hug controlled the fight from start to
finish! Andy even hit Satake in the face with his famous
axe kick so hard that Satake went down. But fighting
against the national hero and champion, Andy was fighting
against uneven odds, and he lost the fight and the finale
on tameshiwari after three extension rounds. But he won
the heart of the Japanese people, and got the nickname:
The samurai with blue eyes.
Since Andy Hug was as a young boy, he was inspired from
the "Rocky" movie to train passionately in his quest to
become a World Champion. Andy became a champion - many
times. Andy did take on the world, working through
Kyokushin and Seidokaikan karate. In 1996, Andy Hug's
determination netted him the title of the best martial
arts fighter in the world. But before he became K-1
champion in 1996, and K-1 finalist in 1997 and 1998,
Andy also won the UKF World Super Heavyweight Champion,
WMTC World Super Heavyweight Champion, WKA World &
European Muay Thai Super & Heavyweight Champion.
Andy spent his last years in Japan, but even though he no longer was living in Switzerland, Andy was the most popular sportsman in Switzerland, and he loved his home country very much. So once a year, Andy Hug was fighting in the K-1 Fight Night Tournaments in Zürich, in the period from 1995-2000. Andy never lost one single fight in Zürich, even though he was fighting the best from the game and the biggest names, like the double K-1 champion Peter Aerts, the famous Mike Bernardo from South Africa, Mikro Filipovic and Stefan Leko. Andy Hug got the name "Ironman" from his opponent in the K-1 because he was always fighting and attacking round after round, and because he refused to give up or slow down when he was fighting.
From 31st July and in the beginning of August 2000, Andy was home in Switzerland to visit his wife Ilona Hug, with whom he just had been divorced from last month, and his loved son, Seya Hug. Andy did not feel 100% fit, and therefore he went to a hospital in Switzerland for tests & medical examination. Andy had been complaining to doctors about attacks of hot fevers, but there was no sign of illness, even though Andy had over 39 incidents in which he was suffering hot fever attacks, and heavy nosebleeding. Andy decided to return to Japan, despite his illness and the advice of the doctors in Switzerland, on August 14. Even on the way to the airport, Andy has serious nosebleeding, but Andy was determined to return to Japan, to participate at the K-1 Grand Prix 2000 Tournament in Fukuoka. Andy's manager Rene Ernst was also trying to persuade him not to travel but he had no luck in the attempt. Andy never returned to Switzerland again.
Andy has just returned to Japan, when he three days later, he collapsed, and was taken to the Nippon Medical School Hospital for further tests and medical examination. Andy's personal physician found a swelling tumor on the left side of his neck, and that was when doctors realized he was suffering from Leukemia. Treatment began immediately, including chemotherapy. Andy knew that he was seriously ill, and so he contacted his wife Ilona by phone, to tell her the scarring news about his health and his condition. Andy told Ilona that he will not return to Switzerland, but that he would stay in Japan. Andy said: Japan is my home, and here I will stay and fight the illness.
The doctors gave Andy a big warning message, and told him that since he was suffering from heart and/or circulation problems, the chemotherapy had a very high chance of backfiring and destroying his body for good. Andy had tears in his eyes when the doctors gave him the diagnosis, but still he was so committed to the sport and his fans, that he asked for an interview, so he could tell about his disease to the people. But in the judgement of the group of doctors, the interview was not allowed.
On 21st August at 9 a.m. Kancho Ishii visited Andy Hug at the Nippon Medical School Hospital. According to Kancho Ishii, they talked about the K-1 tournament in Yokohama on the 20th of August, where Andy's friend Francisco Filho won. Andy also told Ishii that if he should die soon, he would like to die in Japan.
On 22nd August Andy was in a "fine" state, he was watching television and talking on the cell phone and was eating without help. Andy calls Ilona Hug by the phone, and tells her that, if the worst situation should happen, he would like spending his last time in Japan. Andy also took the time to write this letter to his fans:
I think that you will be shocked when you will hear in what state of health I am. When the doctor told me about it, it was an enormous shock even for myself. But I want to inform you about my state of health so that I can fight together with you against this illness. This illness is the most severe opponent of all my fights. But I will win. As if I would stand in the ring I will get power from your cheers and beat this strong opponent. Unfortunately I will not be able to fight at the tournament in October. I will fight against this illness in Japan and one day I will appear again with you. Let's keep it up!
Strangely, this letter became the last message to his fans before he died. Kancho Ishii has also said, that the last word Andy Hug spoke to him was before he went into coma was: "I love you"… And Ishii replied with the words: I know Andy-san.
In the morning of 23rd August, Andy has difficulty breathing. Later in the afternoon Andy cannot breathe by himself and his condition worsened, and Andy gets attached to a respirator. Andy had purple spots on his body, along with digestion pipe bleeding, eyeball bleeding, urinary track bleeding and bleeding genitals. Andy's condition is now so critical, that Ilona Hug has been told to take the first airplane from Switzerland to Japan.
Thursday on 24th August, at 18:21 - Andy Hug dies at the age of only 35 years old. According to Japanese TV, Andy's heart stopped three times, but somehow the doctors managed to get his pulse back again. But the fourth time Andy's heart stopped, the doctors no longer tried to bring Andy back to life, and let Andy sleep peacefully into the death - and the fight ended when the doctors stopped.
The famous Dutch K-1 fighter, Peter Aerts was also at the Nippon Medical School Hospital, where he was doing treatment of the lower back. Peter Aerts collapsed and was crying for more than two hours, when he was told that Andy passed away. Peter Aerts was interviewed on live national TV only one hour after Andy was declared dead, and here he promised the world, that he will fight for Andy, who was a personal good friend to Peter, in the upcoming K-1 Grand Prix on 10th December 2000. At the same time, the news of Andy's death was reported by all news shows and broadcast live on TV on NHK news 10, Sports MAX, Fuji TV, News Japan & TV Asahi. The death of Andy was also telegraphed to all over the world by the AP communication.
Thursday, 24th August, at 20:45 a group of five doctors, who gave treatment to Andy and Kancho Ishii, attend and a press conference, which took about one hour at the Nippon Hospital. At around 21:45 Francisco Filho comes to the condolence hall. About 40 minutes later, Filho left the Hospital speechless without any words to the reporters, with wet red eyes.
On 26th August, it gets decided that the K-1 World Grand Prix 2000 Tournament in the Tokyo Dome on10th December 2000, becomes an Andy mourning performance. Also the part with the profit of the mourning performance is to be presented to Seya, Andy's five-year-old son.
The funeral service and the last farewell took place at the Yoshifuku Temple on 27th August in Tokyo. More than 12,500 people were lined up to pay Mr. K-1, Andy Hug the last respect and condolence. A floral tribute from the many fans began with the special altar outdoors, and the procession of the fans reached more than 2 kilometers.
Andy's wife, Ilona Hug made a speech for Andy and for the 800 special invited guests at the ceremony, with veil she was holding in her arms was a frame with a picture of Andy Hug smiling. Some of the many invited guests at the ceremony was: Family and friends of Andy, The President of Switzerland, K-1 Master Ishii, Kancho Matsui, Kenji Midori, Hajime Kazumi, Masuda, Nicholas Pettas, Francisco Filho and even the big sumo wrestling grand champion in Japan.
People were heartbroken, and when Francisco Filho, Nicholas Pettas, Nobukai Kakuda, Sasaki and other chosen martial arts fighters where carrying Andy's coffin, the official ring announcer of the K-1 was calling Andy by tears: "In the red corner, 180 cm, 97.7 kg, the former K-1 Grand Prix champion; Ann Deeee Hu-uug" over the loudspeakers as the champion took his final exit. At the same time, they listened to the music of "We will rock you" by Queen, the song that had for years trumpeted Andy's arrival into the ring.
Andy Hug was preparing for the K-1 Grand Prix finals in December 2000, and planned on having a retirement match in Japan in the near future, after the Grand Prix. Andy was hoping to start a film career after retiring from fighting, but his last dream never came true.
There are precious few heroes in this world, and we were privileged to come to know a very special one in our beloved Andy. He was only a few weeks short of his 36th birthday, when he suddenly died. Shihan Andy Hug will be sorely missed by many, not only in the martial arts community. My deepest condolence is offered to Andy Hug's family and friends.
Special thanks to Oliver Sperling sensei for his permission to use this article + photo's
More pictures of Andy Hug : http://www.andyhug.subnet.dk/
Andy Hug a born fighter
I still remember August the 24th year 2000 as it was yesterday, when I received a mail from Tomoko Kurosawa, wife to the former Kyokushin fighter and champion, Hiroki Kurosawa – where she told me the sad and terrible news, about Andy has passed away.
In the time and days
after August the 24th year 2000, I was
writing an article about Andy Hug, who so sadly has
passed away, in a far too young age - and on a very
tragic way, after a short period of time of illness
to leukemia, at the
I made the article for serial reasons. First of all to honor and pay my respect to an amazing human, who I personally admired so much, and still do, for whom he was - and for what he accomplish in his short lifetime. I also made the article to pay my condolence to Ilona and Seya Hug, who so sorely lost a husband and a father. I was hoping that Ilona, Seya and near family members and friends to Andy in times of need - might find a little relief reading, about the enormous impact there beloved had on thousands of people around the world.
Tree years after the death of Andy, in late august 2003, I had the privilege to talk to Ilona Hug, who is as kind, friendly, humble and warm as Andy Hug was. Ilona Hug gave me a copy of her book; “Andy Hug. Der Taifun und die Weisheit der Kampfkunst”, written by Ilona Hug and Erik Golowin. The book and my conversations with Ilona Hug, gave me the inspiration to write this new article about Andy.
There are two articles
that keep coming to my mind, when I am trying to
find a red tread and an entrance angle to start this
article. First and foremost, it is an article
called; “Life goes on”. It is a warm and open
hearted interview with Ilona Hug, who describes how
life goes on, tree year after Andy died under
mysterious ways in
The other article that
also has inspired me, is
a short article about Andy Hug, that I found on the
Bout Review homepage, made by the editorial director
and co publisher
I will like
Patrick Smith has just sent Andy down, by a clean right hook to the chin, when he illegal hits Andy once again. Andy is in the process of getting up from the floor, by a very fast knock down, only 10 seconds into the fight in the first round. Andy is hit, but do not seem to be shaken at all, and is up back on his feet’s less than split second after he has been sent down. On his way up from the floor, Andy is once again hit by Patrick, even do the judge has said stop, and is about making a new count on Andy.
The judge is pushing himself into the middle of the two fighters, waving his arms in the air, signaling to the two fighters to stop fighting, when Patrick is smashing Andy with another powerful hook to the head - and Andy naturally goes down once again. Instead of disqualifying Patrick, the judge stops the fight, giving the victory to Patrick Smith? And episode similarly to the one that happened between Nicholas Pettas Vs Jerome le Banner, and Botha Vs Abidi.
(Andy Hug Vs Patrick Smith K-1 1994)
The interested part in this fight and in this episode was, Andy’s calm way that he handle the saturation, in the minutes after the fight standing in the ring, and in the time up to the rematch – and in his rematch against Patrick Smith later same year at the 1994 K-1 Revenge.
Even do the fans and the ordinance in the Dome, at the K-1 1994 Grand Prix where throwing garbage in the ring, screaming and jelling in anger and frustration over the ridicules and absurd judgment, and even do Andy’s own corner was complaining to the officials, Andy never complained public about the incident himself. Not under or after the fight to the K-1 organization, even do the fight and way of loosing it, burred Andy threw out his entire career.
Andy had this outstanding fighting philosophy, heart and outlook on life, that if some one defeated him, he would train even harder to become stronger and better, instead of complaining and giving embracing excuses for why he lost. A philosophy that made him respect by all his opponents in Kyokushin, Seido and in the K-1. Big fighters like Peter Aerts and Mike Bernado have often mention Andy’s enormous heart, by calling the philosophy for the “The Andy Spirit”.
Andy did became stronger
after his absurd defeat at the K-1 1994 Grand Prix,
and in his rematch at the K-1 1994 Revenge against
Patrick Smith, Andy was in focus and in control,
making justice by knocking out Patrick in the first
minute in the first round, by a kick to the lever
and a knee strike to the head.
Threw out Andy’s fighting career, there where a handful of fights, where the judges played and enormous role, and was a tragic part in the outcome of the results. The two most remarkable and discussed fights – was also the two most important fights for Andy in his entire career. The first fight was his fight against Matsui, at the Kyokushin 4th World Open in 1987, and against Francisco Filho at the 5th KyokushinWorld Open in 1991.
Andy’s’ biggest dream, was to become Kyokushin karate World champion. It was a realistic dream and goal for Andy, because he was the absolute best fighter in the world, in the period from the middle 80’s and up till the early 90’s, where the 4th and 5th World Open in Kyokushin took place. But it was also in this period, where Andy was to have his biggest disappointments as a fighter, and properly also his two most controversy, important and most painful looses in his fighting career.
By many Kyokushin fighters and karate-ka around the globe, the 4th World Open in 1987, stands as the best and strongest World Open in the history of Kyokushin. The level of fighters taking part in the tournament, like Ademir da Costa, Kurosawa, Matsui, Peter Smith, Masuda, Michel Wedel, Yosihikazu Koi, Michael Thompsen, Shichinohe, Yoshitaka Nishiyama and Kenji Midori just to name a few, made the tournament second to none, and the hardest ever.
It was not only because of the extreme high quality of the fighters, taking part in the same tournament, that made is so special, it was also the first time in the history of Kyokushin, where a non-Japanese was fighting in the finale. 17 years after the fight between Andy Hug and Akiyoshi Matsui, the Kyokushin society is still divided in two groups, when it comes to who people think should have won the title.
(Andy Hug Vs Matsui Kyokushin 4th World Open 1987)
Rumors say, that Sosai Mas Oyama – the founder of Kyokushin karate, demanded that Matsui should win the fight and world title, at any cost. A rumor that Oyama started himself, when he just before the World Open was to begin said on TV, that as a long as he life, the champion of the world in Kyokushin karate, always will be Japanese.
(Andy Hug, Matsui and Mas Oyama 1987)
Mas Oyama had Shihan
Yuzo Goda judging the final fight, between Andy Vs
Matsui. Yuzo Goda was Oyamas
right hand, and Head Instructor at the Honbu Dojo,
so it was easy for Oyama to fill out his plan –
having a Japanese to become champion. It gave Goda
and the four corner judges, no other choices than
voting and giving the victory to Matsui. A classic
and sad incident in the history of Kyokushin, as it
also happened at the 2nd World Open in
1979 to Willie Williams from
In 1991, four years after his defeated to Matsui in the World Open finale, Andy was for the 3rd time in his career taking part in a Kyokushin World Open tournament, well knowing that this will be his absolute last chance to fulfill his dream, of becoming champion of the world. Andy was more prepared than ever, having trained and sparred with the Dutch champion Michel Wedel, up till the tournament starts.
(Andy Hug first tree fights at the 5th World Open 1991)
Andy showed skills,
strength and technique in a league of it’s own in
his opening fights, even do his draw for the
tournament was extremely hard. Andy’s tree first
fights look like and impossible assignment, and like
Mas Oyama was interested in having Andy eliminated
early, by giving him the toughest start and
opponents possible, simply because Andy was the
biggest contender to the title. But Andy did made it
threw the first day by extremely hard work and
efforts. It was especially his famous ax kick, which
had an effective effect on his opponents, who seemed
confused and defenseless against it. Andy had to
fight hard to get it to the 4th round,
where he was to fight the young newcomer from
Filho had won all his first tree
opening fights at the 5th World Open on
KO, before he was facing Andy. Filho proved from the
start of the tournament, that he had lots of
potential, strengths and a brilliant technique.
Filho was defiantly the biggest talent and upcoming
star of the 5th World Open, and for the
same reason, he also won the “Fighting
Spirit Award” of
the tournament. It
is worth mention in
The fight between Filho and Andy, started with and explosive energy from the first second, and with dynamics kicks from both fighters, who both where trying to win control and respect of the fight. The fight was more or less even at the end of the first round, with Andy as the fighter of the two, who where showing most routine and aggression. In the absolute last second of the fight, the judge screams “Yame” witch in Kyokushin terms means stop fighting, just like “break” means in boxing.
Andy hears and obeys the judge, and is about to put his arms down - showing that he will stop fighting. Sadly for Andy, Filho don’t hear the judge, and is at the same time making a powerful roundhouse kick in the face of Andy, who falls down floppy and totally unconscious.
It was a really ugly knock out. First and foremost because the kick and the impact was extreme powerful, but also because it hit Andy point blank, when he wasn’t expecting the kick coming. Andy was carried away from the ring on a stretcher, and I have been told by Ilona Hug – that Andy after his fight against Filho, was sitting paralyzed in the looker-room together with his team and his Wife Ilona, refusing to accept and understand the defeat. Andy truly believed, that the Kyokushin organization will give him a 2nd chance to get back in the tournament, because of the way that he lost, being KO after the judge had stop the fight. It was Sosai Mas Oyama who made the final decision, that Andy was out of the tournament – by simply from his row pointing his fingers down to the 5 judges in the ring, meaning that he was out. Again, Andy never made and official complain, he knew and respect his destiny. For Andy the tournament was all over, and so was he his time as a Kyokushin karate-ka
How Filho could overhear the judge screaming “Yame” is big question? But another unanswered question as big or even bigger is; who of the remaining fighters taking part in the 5th World Open, would have been able to stop Andy by the rules, if he had won the fights on point against Filho, as he was about too? Andy was in control and in front against Filho, and because Andy also had broken more boards than Filho in the Tameshiwari contest, he was only one second away from victory, one single second away from keeping his dream of being champion of the world alive. But it was Kenji Midori who won the Kyokushin 5th World Open, and I can’t help thinking, that Andy and Midori had already once before the 5th World Open been fighting each other – where Andy won by a 3-0 judge decision. All my deepest respect to Kenji Midori, but he would not have been a treat to Andy Hug. But we will never know?
(Andy Hug Vs Filho Kyokushin 5th World Open 1991)
The two “losses” to Matsui and Francisco Filho, followed Andy’ his entire life, lying in the back of his mind for ever as a dark cloud. Not because he lost a fight, but because of the way he lost it – and because his dream of becoming World Champion has fated away.
Andy did only loose a
couple of fights in his career as a Karate fighter.
One of them was at the Kyokushin European Champion
in 1987, where Andy lost to Michael Thompson from
But loosing by corrupt
judgment and leadership in the Kyokushin
organization – and loosing his chance and dream to
become world champion, was something that Andy never
learned to handle or forget. I only recall Andy
smiling once after a defeat, and that was against
Fleming Jensen from
Another black spot in Andy’s career, was his finale fight at the 1993 World Cup in Seidokaikan karate against Satake. Andy was remaining Seido World champion from 1992, and was literally playing with Satake, controlling the fight 100% and scoring high and low after pleasure – even by sending Satake down by an ax kick.
It was Kancho Ishii, who is the founder of Seidokaikan karate and the K-1, that was the main judge in this fight, and he kept judging the fight even, round after round, even do Satake was doing nothing else than running backwards defending himself, and taking every chance he could get to hold and grap Andy. After four rounds of fighting, by mixed karate knock down rules and K-1 rules with gloves, the four judges and Ishii still thought that the fight was to end by a draw, even do Satake got beaten from start to finish, like he was a mowing sand back.
(Satake Vs Andy Hug Seido World Cup Karate 1993)
The winner was to be found on “Tameshiwari”, which is breaking contents. Andy lost the breaking contest by one single piece of brick – and Satake became new Seido World Champion. I can’t recall seeing a fight in my entire life, where the winner has been beaten so clearly? Again in Andy’s career, he lost a very important fight and international title, because of corruptions and bad judgment. Andy did fight Satake again later in his K-1 career, and it was at the 1996 K-1 Star Wars and at the 1997 K-1 Grand Prix. Andy won both fights clearly and easy.
In my eyes, one of Andy’s best K-1 fights in his long career as a kickboxer, was in 1994, at the K-1 Challenge against Branco Cikatic. Andy was new in the K-1, when he less than one year after his debut, was to battle the big K-1 Grand Prix champion Branco Cikatic, in a fight settle for five rounds. No one gave Andy a chance against the Croatian giant, and even Andy himself knew that he was the underdog.
Before Andy Hug was to face Branco Cikatic, Andy have only had two fights as an professional kickboxer, and that was against Ryuji Murakami, where Andy won on KO in the first round, and against Eric Albert where Andy won early in the 2nd round on KO. No one expected the fight to last five rounds, especially not Branco Cikatic or his coach Thom Harinck from team Chakuriki. But they where proved to be wrong, and never before in his interred career, did Branco had to dick so deep just to survive. The fight was five rounds of true war; it was give and take in a tearing speed, felt with drama, action and standing counts to both fighters.
(Andy Hug Vs Branco Cikatic K-1 1994)
Andy had two weapons that shacked Branco, and that was his amazing lion heart and spirit, and his dynamics kicks. Andy’s kick was all over Branco; especially his Ax kick was like a magnet to Branco Cikatic chin, hitting the target round after round, one more beautiful and faster than the other. But Branco was not the only one who got hit or hurt - Andy also had to cross his own limits to get past the five rounds, especially because he broken his nose in the 2nd round, and had trouble breathing threw out the fight, and in a long period after. Andy won the fight on a 3-0 judge decision, and it was properly the hardest and most beautiful fight, he ever did have in his K-1 career.
In 1995 at the K-1 Grand Prix and at the K-1 Revenge II, Andy had two scaring KO defeats to the South African fighter Mike Bernado. One year later at the 1996 K-1 Grand Prix, Mike Bernado and Andy Hug was standing in the final, facing each other for the 3rd time in there career, in a fight for the belt and K-1 championship. Mike Bernado is an excellent boxer and has very strong hands, but his kicking abilities and legs are very weak. A lesson that Andy had learned the hard way, so the recipe to victory for Andy was “simple”; it was all about mowing sideways and not backwards, throwing hard lowkicks and to keep away from Mike’s punches.
(Andy Hug Vs Mike Bernado 1996 K-1 Grand Prix)
About one minute into the 2nd round, Mike Bernado is sent down by lowkick from Andy, and is about to be counted out by the judge. Mike manage to get up from the floor and is allowed to continue, even do his legs are stiff like wood. Mike Bernado mows slowly now, and he is trying to stay away from Andy, in the attempt to protect his legs for further pain. But half way into the 2nd round, Andy makes the most brilliant roundhouse kick and technique ever seen in a K-1 Grand Prix final, hitting Mike’s left thigh right above the knee, and Mike fouls down, unable to get up. Andy become K-1 champion, the most beautiful way possible
(Andy Hug Vs Mike Bernado 1996 K-1 Grand Prix)
Another beautiful fight in Andy’s K-1 career, was against Peter Aerts at the K-1 1997 Grand Prix. Andy had earlier same year at the K-1 Kings, lost on a 1st round KO to The Dutch Lumberjack, in a fight where Andy was a slight notch above terrible in his performance. Andy had just defeated Satake, in his first fight at the 1997 K-1 Grand Prix after only 15 seconds of fighting, and was now to fight Peter Aerts, who was the strongest and most feared fighter in the K-1 in the late 90’s.
(Andy Hug Vs Peter Aerts K-1 Grand Prix 1997)
Andy had enormous respect for Peter Aerts, and was well prepared for the rematch, knowing that he had to work hard and concentrated, to win the fight and to settle the score. Andy’s game plan was to bombard Aerts legs with lowkicks, and to stay away from Aerts long straight jab, combined with his dangerous roundhouse kick and knee strike to win the fight. Combination and technique that Peter in the past – and after the 1997 Grand Prix used to knock out Andy. Andy’s game plan turned out to be very successful, because at the end of the 3rd round, Peter Aerts thigh and legs was so hurt and damage by the many lowkicks from Andy, that he could barley stand und his feet’s. Andy won the fight by a big 3-0 decision, and was ready to defend his title against Ernesto Hoost the Grand final.
When it came to spirit,
hard training and dedication, no one in K-1 could be
match or compared with Andy Hug. A former member of
Team Andy in the period 1998-1999, and a respected
friend of mine, Fredrik Hjelm from
(Andy Hug looking at Fredrik Hjelm sparring in the gym. Fredrik is to the left without helmet)
It was very demanding being a member of Team Andy, because Andy’s way of training was the “Kyokushin-way”, the hard way. Injuries and lots of ice packs was a part of the daily training, and everybody was committed 110%, giving all they got. It is not about ever falling, but in rising every time we fall, Andy told his team. Fredrik was one who learned that even if you fall, it takes more than a samurai spirit to get up again. Team Andy were in a training camp in Okinawa, preparing for the K-1 1998 Grand Prix, when Andy was training to the limit, fighting sparing rounds against Fredrik, Mcdonald and Xhavit on shift. In a sparring round, Andy hit Fredrik so hard by a lowkick, that he cut his thigh muscle, and could barely walk for about 6 weeks. Fredrik had to leave team Andy because of many different curvier injuries. Other was told by Andy to leave because of lag of spirit or bad manners.
(Picture of Andy Hug training in Seido gym together with Xhavit Bajrami)
Andy did also get many injuries himself, but he never did talk about them, or showed that he had pain. Peoples pain threshold are very different, and some will say that it is an advance and also a sign of strength and will power, being able to repress pain - and continuing fighting even do you have curvier injuries? My personal point of view is, that everything has it price, and sometimes the price is too high compared of what you are gaining. What is a victory compared with getting permanent injuries?
It is no secret that Andy had an enormous will, spirit and pain threshold. In his fight against Ernesto Hoost at the K-1 1997 K-1 Grand Prix final, Andy had serial broken bones in his left foot from the beginning of the fight. Still Andy mange to fight Hoost hard and even for tree hard rounds. Many would have quitted in pain, but quitting was never an option for Andy. I often get the thoughts that, what if Andy had listened to his body and the symptoms, when he started becoming seriously sick. Would he been around us today, because the doctors then would have discovered his tumor and leukemia in time?
All people that have the chance to meet Andy in person, my self included, are all talking about Andy Hug’s big open heart, warm smile and his charisma. Andy Hug was to many a mentor in the ring, but also a friend and role model in life as a human. Andy had many friends; even some of his biggest opponents in Kyokushin and in the K-1, were his nearest friends. The tree time’s K-1 champion Peter Aerts was privately a very near friend of Andy – and they did meet privately at special occasions, as Andy also was invited to Peter Aerts wedding.
In Kyokushin karate one
of Andy’s dearest friends, was the Dutch champion
Michel Wedel. When Wedel got his degree and became
professor of Marketing Research, at the
Department of Marketing and Marketing Research at
the faculty of Economics, in the
(Sempai Andy Hug and Sensei Michel Wedel)
Family, friend or fan, Andy is still sorely missed by many people. All over the world, people is honoring Andy and paying him respect, at every given chance, for what he accomplishes, for who he was and for what he gave us. It is difficult for me to find and ending to this article, because how do I end story - about a human that no longer is around, but always will be in my heart and in my life? As Ilona Hug says in her interview on MAN-magazine to Jerome Winters; “If you close your eyes, you can fell, he is around us”. Ilona and Andy have the same positive way of thinking, because in Andy’s last message and official letter to the press and to his fans, less than two days before he died; he says that he will fight his illness, and one day he will appear with us again. Sadly Andy is no longer among us, but he will always be around.
Rest in peace and god bless you Andy Hug!
My warmest thoughts and respect goes to Ilona and Seya Hug.
(Special thanks to Oliver Sperling sensei for his permission to use this article and photo’s)