Czech organisation the XFN is undoubtedly one of the drivers of the Czech-Slovak martial arts scene. Thanks to the XFN, public awareness of MMA, kickboxing and other disciplines has been increased. In its background stands the tough promoter Petr Kareš, who is responsible for the successful rise of this brand. What are Kareš´s ambitions in this project? What are they going to surprise us with next year? How has this job changed his life? Are we going to see him again standing in the ring?
I was wondering what was the first impulse for you to start organising gala evenings under the XFN?
I missed a professional sports organisation for MMA. A group of people who professionally engage in and do this sport for a living, and that is the XFN today.
How many people approximately are involved in such an average gala evening?
The number of event team members varies depending on the event size. For example, in the O2 arena it exceeds 200. At the average evenings, there are around 100 people working on it. The core XFN team consists of 10 members.
The XFN has managed to organise extremely successful events, over which the gala evening in the O2 arena stands out. Do you consider this to be the biggest success of the organisation?
So far yes, no one believed in us, but we did it and it was a big thing for the whole Czech-Slovak MMA scene.
Was there nervousness prevailing in you about an event of such dimensions? After all, in our area it was the biggest event of its kind.
I was not nervous, I believed our XFN team as well as myself. My job is to keep things during the event under control, or at least to look like that. : -)
What are the plans of the XFN for the year 2018?
In 2018 we want to become number one also in the Slovak MMA and to enter Germany and Poland.
Is the XFN coming to Slovakia a new challenge for you?
Certainly yes! Slovakia is a bit further in MMA than the Czech Republic. It is already a well-known sport, particularly thanks to the reality show Oktagon. It is a little more complex market than the Czech one – yes, it is a new challenge.
Where would you like to get the organisation to be able to say: “Yes, I have achieved what I wanted to.”?
I would be satisfied if the XFN became the central-european entrance gateway to the UFC. So that the XFN champions have the open door to the UFC without having to do anything else.
How do you perceive the competition in the form of the Oktagon gala evenings?
I do not perceive it as a competition. Oktagon interferes with a different segment of spectators than the XFN. The finale of the Oktagon challenge would be the match on the prelims in the XFN. It is not an expression of disrespect, it is a reality today.
Many promising promoters have problems with bureaucracy in the form of different clerks. Has the XFN project met with such inconveniences?
The XFN is a company, which brings its responsibilities. We take these responsibilities very seriously and every XFN fighter will confirm how tiresome in enforcing all the medical, accounting and sport documents we are.
How long did it take to build the XFN into the shape, in which we can see the organisation now?
We have been building the XFN for three years, but we have been collecting the know-how to do that for 10 years.
How does the arrangement of matches for fighters go? Is it necessary to be prudent?
The XFN consists of both current and former fighters. We know the environment of this sport well and we know there is no reason to be prudent, but rather to show the fighters that we have a real interest in them based on mutually beneficial cooperation. We want our fighters to feel good not only in the fight, but for the whole time of our cooperation. The fighters are our stars and we want to behave to them accordingly and I believe that we do. If you want to know the XFN or any other MMA organisation, always ask the fighters first.
The choice of a venue is important too. The XFN is going to take place in several cities in Czech Republic and Slovakia. How does this venue selection work?
Choosing a venue is very important, we are still learning this art, and while we are often the first to organize such event at the particular place, we always try to judge the venue very carefully.
What does your normal day look like? Are you able to find some time for yourself too?
Certainly yes. I think it is the basis of every success. In my life there are times, when I must work very long and hard, but there are also days, that I only devote to myself and to my loved ones.
What do you do in your free time?
I still fight, so I predominantly train and prepare for the fights. Apart from that, to my free time interests belong food, vine and travelling.
Has your work affected you in your personal life too? Has it made you a different person to one you were before?
This is a question rather for my close ones, but from what I have noticed, most of them understand that work is an important part of my life and they give me space. I´ve got this great luck to be able to do what I enjoy for a living. Martial arts are my life. I have worked in both amateur and professional sports, I fight, I have trained, coached and at the very beginning I was only good for carrying towels and being a nourishment for the more experienced fighters at the trainings. I have evolved and got far in the combat sports – that must affect you.
We have heard that Petr Kareš is planning to return to the competition. Are these speculations true?
Petr Kareš hasn´t left the ring yet. : -) Last year I qualified for the World Games and this year I have already made one match. I enjoy fighting very much and I would like to continue.
A duel between Marpo and Rytmus is also waiting for the organization this year. Do you expect a big promo of the martial arts from that?
Yes, there has already been a great interest in this match from the general public today. I believe that the XFN can use this interest for every Czech-Slovak fighter, so that this sport will belong to the most watched ones in our countries in the future.
Before that, you gave a chance to Filip Grznár too, abroad the fights among famous personalities are very popular. Does the XFN want to take such direction also in the future?
The XFN is primarily a sports organisation, but it is also an organisation, which promoted a small and publicly not very well-known sport when it started. However, the time changes and we change with it, at the same time I think that famous personalities fights belong to that business and will belong to it further. Yes, we are going to take this direction too.
Petr, thank you for the interview and I wish a lot of success to the whole XFN and all the people involved. Finally, there is a space to tell something to the readers and fans, if you would like to.
Thank you! And yes, I would like to. What happens when you miss an empty goal? When you don´t hit the basket or when you run to the final line as the last one? And what happens when a fighter makes a similar mistake in the ring or in the octagon? Martial arts as well as the fighters are exceptional. Keep watching and supporting them, because they deserve your support for their courage more than any other sportsmen.
Source of the photos: Facebook Petr Kareš, CzechFighters.cz, Lenka Bartáková, archive of Patrik Kincl, XFN