Interview with Bill Goldberg: 'I am here to take Glory to the next level'

Glory is next!

Glory 22 takes place tonight at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille, France, where GLORY Kickboxing World Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven defends his championship against Benjamin Adegbuyi. This is the first time Glory will be putting on an event in France and watching from the front-row will be pro-wrestling legend Bill Goldberg.

Goldberg has been involved with the Glory brand over the last couple of months and has been for the most part, the ‘face’ of the company in the media. In the lead-up to the exciting night of action lined up on Friday night, he was kind enough to take some time out and speak with Sportskeeda about all things relating to his involvement with Glory, his legendary career and Glory 22. Below is the selected transcript of my chat with Goldberg:

Ratish Menon: Everyone who has followed your career has known that you are a big martial arts aficionado and so your transition into MMA commentary post your wrestling career wasn’t a surprise to me at all. However, with GLORY, it is a different kind of involvement. Could you elaborate a bit on your association with the organization and what it entails you doing?

Bill Goldberg: My involvement with them started off with an intention to get me to fight in the Glory ring, but because I didn’t have the proper time to train yet, especially considering I haven’t had any pro fights, 2 months wouldn’t be good enough time for me to get in the ring against a pro-fighter.

I am purely associated with Glory right now as the face of the brand and because I personally enjoy watching it. The finer details of the association is being worked out as we speak, but my goal is to be able to take the Glory brand to a new level and get as many eyes watching it as possible.

RM: Would you be looking to get in the GLORY ring for a fight if that means taking the organization to a new level?

BG: Absolutely. If done right, I think that has the potential to garner a tremendous amount of interest. That is where the pro-wrestling promotion side of mine kicks in (laughs).

RM: I have been a huge fan of GLORY and totally dig the shows they put out. The production is top-notch and so are the fights in themselves. However, looking at the history, Kickboxing promotions haven’t done as well as say the MMA promotions since the MMA boom that started in the last decade or so. What do you attribute that to and where do you see Glory being different than the promotions before it?

BG: I believe timing is everything. MMA fans may be at a point where they must be looking at something new, given that the product on TV has been getting very monotonous. The boxing fans have been searching for newer avenues, ever since the Mayweather-Pacquaio fight. So what’s better than watching two guys go at it with their hands, shin and feet for 3 3-minute rounds?

Plus, what I have liked about Glory is the single focus on a particular martial art, in this case being Kickboxing and/or Muay Thai, the essence of which can get watered down in a multi-style format such as MMA

RM: I know you are a huge fan of the sport in itself and that was evident with your character in wrestling with the gloves and the shoot holds you would put on your opponents. What do you think of the Glory kickboxing rules which is different than the traditional Muay Thai fighting rules, with no elbows and very little clinching?

BG: I think the rules are great, considering that it is a sport. While I am a huge proponent of traditional Muay Thai and as aesthetically pleasing as watching fighters throw elbows and throwing knees in the clinch can be, I also believe that style would shorten the shelf-life and careers of fighters. So, the Glory rules are great at keeping the sport exciting and ensuring the relative safety of the fighters

RM: Also unique to Glory is the tournament format where the fighters have to fight more than once in a night. While it is great as a fan to watch the fights unfold, how do you think it weighs on the fighters who also have to rely on the ‘luck of the draw’ to win the tournament?

BG: You know, in all my interactions with the fighters that I have spoken to, they all enjoy the tournament format, which is contrary to what one would think. Without exception, every single fighter on the Glory card likes the concept of being able to fight more than once in a night and being able to advance in a tournament that determines a contender.

That and coupled with the fact that as a fan, if you can watch your favourite fighter fight more than once in a night, I think it’s a great and unique format that sets Glory apart.

RM: Moving away from Glory a bit, you have been dabbling in so many things since your last run in wrestling. What else do you have going on right now, apart from your involvement with Glory?

BG: Let’s see. I train and stay in shape and juggle my time between the TV shows that I do and being a spokesperson for 2 other companies. I also have a movie slated to come out at the end of the month. So, I’ve been keeping busy!

RM: In a recent interview, you spoke about a possible comeback to wrestling, but you denied it being for any of the top promotions. Could you talk a bit about that and your ongoing involvement with the various fan conventions you seemingly are a part of.

BG: The fan conventions are a great way for me to give back to the fans, who have put me in this position and if I am able to show my appreciation to them for that, I am greatly honoured to do so. If that means shaking hands with a fan and letting them know that I appreciate them, I am more than looking forward to do that.

The desire to wrestle is solely because I have a young son. If he wishes to see his father wrestle the way he did on TV, I want to do everything in my power to make that happen. And through my time in the business and the position where I am at, I can speak to the promoters, arrange for an arena to put on a wrestling show on my own.

However, it is not something that has to happen, but I consider myself to be so fortunate to be in a position to be able to do that

RM: Having done your share of powerlifting and the kind of training required for wrestling and the training to be a pro fighter, what’s been the major difference in your opinion and how has it impacted you now that you are in your late-40s’?

BG: You know the biggest thing has been my advanced age and all the mileage I have on my body from my time in wrestling and playing football. I still lift weights, but not to put on the kind of muscle that I needed during my wrestling days. I also train kickboxing 4 times a week and have dropped down to 270 lbs from the 285 plus pounds I walked around at, during my time in wrestling.

These days, my reps in lifting is focused more on the quantity than the weight I lift, as training to lift a guy over my head won’t do me any good when trying to kickbox effectively as it will slow me down. Plus being a big guy, the body movements can be easily read by an opponent if you don’t train to be deceptive and quick.

RM: Glory 22 is tomorrow night for the first time in France with the Heavyweight title on the line in an exciting fight between Dutch champion Rico Verhoeven and contender Benjamin Adegbuyi . I know you wouldn’t want to make a pick as to who’s going to win but what are your thoughts on the fight and how it is going to go down?

BG: Oh man, that is going to be one exciting fight. Having had a chance to train with and interview Rico, he feels that he sees a lot of himself in Adegbuyi. Here is this young up and coming guy, hungry who wants to knock out Rico and become the champion. But Rico is very good at analysing his opponents technically and fighting his fight. He has the ability to move in, attack and move out and if need be, he can stand and bang too.

Adegbuyi on the other hand has been pretty straightforward in his interviews leading upto the fight that he plans on knocking out Rico and I think that makes for a very interesting dynamic and I am really looking forward to it.

RM: The last Glory event happened in Dubai and tomorrow’s card is set to take place in France. Has Glory been looking to expand outside of North America and if yes, could you share some details as to whether there is any good news for the fight fans in Asia and South-East Asia?

BG: I will tell you this much that we are not the ones to turn our back on the very same people who started and popularised the genre of combat sports and if there is a market and interest for Kickboxing in a particular part of the world, Glory would do everything possible to reach out and put on a show for the fans.

If that means expanding outside of the North American region like we have, you will be seeing a lot of such expansion in the coming year.

RM: We wish to thank you for the time and in closing, if you would have any message for your Indian fans and why Glory 22 is a can’t-miss event for the fight fans in this part of the world?

BG: Firstly, I would like to thank all the fans in India who have liked and followed my career and supported me throughout my time in wrestling and beyond. I cannot express how humbled and grateful I am for that.

As for the Glory event tomorrow night, the prospect of Rico defending his title in itself is reason enough to be tuning into, but to add to that you have 4 elite lightweight fighters participating in the contender tournament, which should be an exciting series of fights I am eagerly looking forward to and so should you, if you are a combat sports fan.

Tonight, catch one of the biggest fight cards, including heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven Vs. Romania’s Benjamin Adegbuyi Live and Exclusively on SONY SIX HD and SONY KIX SD @ 1.30am on Saturday, 6th June 2015.

For audiences in India, SONY SIX has acquired the exclusive broadcasting rights to GLORY which has signed up 90 per cent of the best martial arts stand up fighters, or kickboxers, in the world and has effectively established a platform for the highest level of combat in six different weight classes – featherweight 65 kilograms), lightweight (70 kilograms), welterweight (77 kilograms), middleweight (85 kilograms), light heavyweight (95 kilograms) and heavyweight (above 95 kilograms) awarding a total of over US $2 million in prize money annually at events across the globe.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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