Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ripspirational: Andy Hug

Karate Friday aka The Day of Fighting Spirit continues with a true example of ripped and inspirational:  Andy Hug.  Dubbed "The Blue Eyed Samurai", Hug's story is one of tragedy and triumph, his father died serving as a Legionnaire in Thailand and his mother would give him up to his grandparents.  Bullied at a young age, Hug took up karate and was a natural athlete.  Fighting competitively at 15 years old in full contact events, Hug quickly made a name for himself.  In 1993 he joined fledgling kickboxing organization K-1 where the undersized heavyweight would dazzle audiences with his muscular physique, impressive ax kicks and durability against bigger, stronger opponents.

1996 would be a banner year in Andy Hug's life as he entered the K-1 Grand Prix, defeating Bart Vale and Duane Van Der Merwe by knockout then taking a double overtime split decision over the legendary Ernesto Hoost.  The finals saw Hug pitted against South Africa's Mike Bernardo, a man who had defeated Hug twice already.  With the stakes never higher, Hug avenged the losses and claimed the K-1 Grand Prix Championship.  Hug would fight and win another four bouts in 1996, giving him an 8-0 record for the year.  Not bad considering today's most active UFC fighters only have 3 matches a year.

Hug would never match that pinnacle year as he would fall to Ernesto Hoost and Peter Aerts in the Grand Prix finals in 1997 and 1998.  By 2000, Hug was looking to retire and segue into acting and coaching young fighters.  His final two bouts came in the summer of 2000, defeating Mirko "CroCop" Filipovic in June and Nobu Hayashi in July.  In August, Andy Hug was diagnosed with acute leukemia.  That means he probably fought at least two professional matches with the disease.  Hug fell in to a coma five days after being diagnosed and passed away 22 hours later due to organ failure.

Like the four years older Jean-Claude Van Damme, Hug became a charismatic mix of karate, weights and flexibility.  His regimen was said to include hours of running, cycling, bag work, shadowboxing, sparring, weights and stretching.  On days off he played badminton or went for a swim.

 Here's an oldie but a goodie that inspired and gotten me through many a workout:

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