The Curious Case of Xtreme Fight Night
It appears that even the rather innocuous world of amateur mixed martial arts isn’t safe from unscrupulousness. Early Friday, controversy began bubbling up on the Facebook group, Florida Amateur MMA, when combat sports icon, 1976 boxing Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis Jr. – the owner and operator of South Florida’s Fight Time Promotions – made this announcement from his personal account:
At first look, this appeared to be an intriguing development; Fight Time Promotions, which operates primarily in Ft. Lauderdale, would be spreading their influence farther south, while XFN – which has had two events to date – could benefit in terms of popularity from this cross promotion. An hour later, however, XFN founder, operator and matchmaker Daniel Kay posted this:
Something was clearly amiss. A visit to sunbiz.org yielded this article of incorporation.
Who was this Iwona Pikor, and how did she attain ownership of Xtreme Fight Night?
But let me back up a little bit.
Up until the beginning of last year, Kay was working for Fight Time Promotions as their fight coordinator. An eight month no-compete clause in his contract kept him on the sidelines after what was, according to Kay, a less-than-amicable parting, however once the stipulated period of time lapsed, he jumped back into local MMA with Xtreme Fight Night, an amateur MMA startup. On Wednesday, November 20th 2013, XFN-1: Saintil vs. Santana II was held at Knockers Sports Bar & Grill, a 21-and-over venue located inside of Tootsie’s Cabaret in Miami Gardens.
“I was introduced to Knockers Sports Bar by a mutual friend named Dr. Richard Hill,” Kay told MMA Owl. “He asked me if I would like to promote events at Knockers. He didn’t want to because he didn’t want to cause conflict with all the other amateur promotions he worked at – he’s a ringside physician – so he told me he couldn’t promote events there. He wanted to put somebody there that could do events that were good enough that he could invite his friends and they would have an excuse to tell their wives that they were going to a strip club without actually thinking they were going to one.”
Hill, a former champion kickboxer with deep roots in South Florida martial arts, has had a hand in local combat sports for decades. For a time, he took part in staging Friday night pro fights at the War Memorial Auditorium in Ft. Lauderdale – coincidentally the very same night and venue that Fight Time Promotions holds their events now.
Kay insists that Hill’s influence with XFN began and ended with his role as a middleman between him and the venue – that and Hill placing the necessary $2,000 in fighter health insurance temporarily on his credit card.
“That was the furthest extent of his involvement,” he said. “He got paid that back the day of the weigh-ins. What he did, he did as a favor from one friend to another. He told me that Fight Time was screwing him over, so he wanted to different shows so that it would take away business from Fight Time. He told me that he had bad blood with (CEO) Anthony Medina from Fighter’s Source. He claimed that Fighter’s Source stole his venue, which is the Holiday Inn. His main focus in this was to put on a good show, to put those other places that pissed him off out of business and also a place for him and his friends to go to watch fights at a titty bar.”
Things did not remain cordial between the two friends for long; by the end of the XFN’s second show on January 15 this year, Kay alleges that Hill overstepped boundaries, going as far as counting the money from the event – prior to Kay counting it himself – before moving off to one of Tootsie’s VIP rooms, possibly with some of the cash in his pocket.
“All of a sudden he felt that he was playing a bigger role, so he wanted to dictate more things, he started to ask me questions that he didn’t need to know the answers to – the event was owned and run by me,” he said. “Any revenue from the event was mine. It was none of his business what was going into that. After the second event, he started to bark orders, he started to demand things, and it really got out of place. I told him that I didn’t want to work with him anymore and I approached Tootsies and I told them, ‘Look, I did these two shows for you. I don’t want to do anything involved with Dr. Hill because he’s become a nuisance, however if you want to continue with Dr. Hill, I respect that, I wish you the best of luck, and if not, I will gladly do a show. They wanted to continue with Dr. Hill.”
According to Fight Time Promotions’ Howard Davis Jr. and Karla Guadamuz-Davis, the aforementioned mystery woman, Iwona Pikor, is Dr. Richard Hill’s wife (a detail Hill repeatedly declined to confirm or deny), though knowing this isn’t necessary in finding out to who the registered proprietor of XFN indeed is; the listed address on the above form – 1425 SE 17th St., Ft. Lauderdale, FL – is for Lab Doctor, a facility that Dr. Hill, though he declined to confirm a direct association, is involved with in some capacity – as was made evident in a brief conversation with an office receptionist. Moreover, registering ownership of property under other names is something the doctor has done in the past.
“To be honest, I don’t mind that he’s doing fights over at Tootsies,” Kay offered. “That doesn’t bother me in the least. The only thing that bothers me is that they’re trying to pass it off as XFN-3 and trying to say that Fight Time is the one that did XFN-1 and XFN-2. Without anything in place, though, between Knockers, myself and Dr. Hill, it’s going to be a stupid battle for me to say, ‘No, I own it – I own Xtreme Fight Night.’ But the people who came out, they didn’t come out for Xtreme Fight Night, they came out to support the fighters who went out there to showcase their skills, and I’ve had a lot of supportive comments from fighters, coaches and teams all over Florida, and at the end of the day it’s not the name of the show that puts on the event, it’s the people who put on the event.”
Fight Time’s Howard Davis Jr. mostly deferred to Dr. Hill when discussing the matter, insisted that any controversy that existed rested between the two men and not with his promotion.
“[Dr. Hill] came to us – he hired us as the promoter,” Davis Jr. said. “I didn’t know anything about Danny Kay being involved, whatsoever; that’s between him and Danny Kay. Now if he has some kind of stipulation or controversy with the name that he uses, that’s between him and Danny Kay. Fight Time has nothing to do with that and nothing to do with Danny Kay. Danny Kay used to work for us a couple years ago and unfortunately it didn’t work out properly, so we moved forward, he moved forward, and that’s that. The doctor hired us to be the promoter and that’s where it begins and ends as far as we’re concerned.”
Guadamuz-Davis took particular umbrage with the way in which Kay confronted the issue. After the responding to Davis Jr.’s initial post, Kay wrote on Fight Time’s Facebook wall – in plain view of their more than 34,000 fans – something she considered unprofessional.
“I’m 42 years old, Howard’s going to be 58 years old in a couple of weeks – we don’t have time for this,” she said. “If somebody feels they’ve been wronged, there’s ways of handling it. The first way is trying to solve it amicably, and if it can’t be solved amicably then somebody should take somebody to court, but if someone goes on a Facebook or social media rant, it’s so unprofessional and so unfair. One thing that you’ll never see us do, no matter how many people are out there talking, you’ll never hear us say anything bad about anyone who worked for us or not, because we’re not those kinds of people. Things are being blown out of proportion and all the facts aren’t given here, somebody’s crying wolf and making rants and making accusations and slandering us good people’s names that have been in the industry for many years. Dr. Hill has been in the industry for many years. He’s a former professional kickboxer. He’s been with the state of Florida as a recognized doctor. He’s been in this business for 30-something years. Howard Davis Jr. has been in this business for 40-something years. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years. You’re talking about somebody that was just born yesterday that is trying to cause controversy for no reason.”
Hill agreed with Kay’s summation of his role with XFN, that he was a liaison of sorts between Kay and Tootsies who also contributed funds for which he was reimbursed afterwards (insufficiently, according to him), however he claimed that Kay was much more financially dependent on him and other financial backers – whom he declined to name (a theme of sorts during our conversation).
“When Daniel came to us, he didn’t have any money,” Hill said. “We had to give him money for gas to get to the venue. He had no money at all. We tried to help the kid out. We originally thought he was a good person. I thought he had potential. As you probably know, it doesn’t take $2,000 to do an event; it takes $6,000 to $9,000 to do an amateur event. He didn’t have a dime to his name, so we said we’d try to help him out.”
He alluded to the possibility of criminal implications when discussing the matter – namely grand theft. Hill alleges that, though Kay contributed zero funds initially, he nonetheless expected to keep all of the revenue from the event and had surreptitiously accepted credit card payments from attendees which he neglected to share with investors. According to Hill, the story Kay illustrated – that Dr. Hill counted the cash in the cash box at XFN-2 before ascending to the VIP room upstairs – occurred in a different way.
“Basically, at the end of the event, he handed off the cash box to his mother and took all the credit card money and ran off with it,” he said. “I counted the money earlier in the night – not at the very end of the night – just to get an account of how much money was there, but that didn’t give him permission to take the money. The money did not belong to him. He took it on his own to take the money and all the things we paid for – the step and repeat, the gloves, the walkie-talkies – thousands of dollars that he doesn’t know. He’s just a young guy. He thought it was $500 to put together an event or something like that, he’s way off base. You’re talking about belts, the cage, insurance, the ambulance – I just named three or four thousand dollars right there without going into detail.”
At one point during the conversation, Dr. Hill interjected after hearing Kay’s name.
“Is that his real name, Daniel Kay, or is it Daniel Zvouloni?” he asked. “His real name is Daniel Zvouloni. Who changes a name like that? Be proud of your name.”
Sure enough, a brief Google search of Zvouloni and Fight Time Promotions yielded a positive result.
Hill asserted that Kay was reticent to give any information regarding XFN-2’s earnings at the end of the event and that the resulting dispute was the reason for their split. Kay, he said, claimed to not know how much money was made, attributing it to a deficiency in mathematical skills. When he continued to resist telling Hill and others involved what the event’s take was, they grew incensed.
“This is not the Daniel Zvouloni gift foundation; we’re doing you a favor getting you started,” he said. “Basically, he just refused to tell us how much money he collected, how many tickets he sold, how much money he got from sponsors, how much money he made form online sales – how are you going to do business with someone like that? It’s a shame because he could have made a lot of money if he’d just been honest. It could have been a nice little business. He could have made more money than he ever made in his life, he’s a young kid, but he didn’t want to pay back the debts, what it took to get the show started. When he went back [to Tootsies] and he told them that he had enough money to do the shows on his own he didn’t realize that they were going to be honest and say, ‘Daniel, that’s not your money. You can’t do that. You came in here with no money and now you have thousands of dollars. We’re not going to just let you come in and take over without paying back your debts. That’s not right.’ And that’s what this came down to.”
Dr. Hill said he and others involved gave Kay an ultimatum: bring in every penny in earnings and pay back the debts he agreed to repay when he accepted their help. Kay (who said that he is still waiting on receipts from Hill detailing what is owed – something Hill himself disputes) declined to do so, holding that what was earned was his to keep. Hill claimed that was the last straw.
“He was not wronged,” said Hill. “He was given a great opportunity. He is just a foolish young man. You have to look at this from our standpoint: why would we do this to him? If he was honest, putting on a great show and paying off his debts, why would we switch to someone else?”
Kay maintained that he doesn’t owe a red cent.
“They didn’t put up thousands of dollars for anything,” he said. “Nobody put up thousands of dollars for this event. I’m the one who made connections with everyone involved with the event – with the guy who brought the cage, the sanctioning body, the people who provided the gear, the production team – all of them are still working with me. When it comes down to building a case, the only thing that he can say that he had a part in was paying for the insurance because, yes, his credit card was used because I don’t have a credit card with a $2,000 limit on it. Everything else was paid for. The gloves were sponsored to us. Xtreme Fight Night is my company. The name, the design, it was all me. I did everything throughout the event. For him to say that he invested thousands of dollars in is just a straight up lie.”