PART ONE- NZ TO K-1
The childhood that Mark and his brothers Steve and John, and sister Victoria survived was more abusive than almost any I've heard of before. Outside of the pages of the book Mark is understandably reticent when asked about his family, but some extra detail lies in this interview that I did with podcaster Charlie Clausen.
On the left is a photograph of fighters at the Lee Gar Gym in South Auckland, including the Sefo brothers (top row, third and fourth from left), both of whom Mark would fight, and Lolo Heimuli (moustache, left) Mark's UFC striking trainer and corner. While they were training, Mark was stealing cars and robbing people, only coming to fighting after a bouncer saw Hunt lay a group of men out in a street fight. The only orgnaised sport Mark did until then was rugby, playing for the Mangare East Hawks (Mark is second row, second from the left).
ROAD TO THE K-1
Jerome Le Banner: Nagoya Grand Prix, Japan (2000)
Mark first fought in New Zealand, but only started training seriously in Sydney. There he was a surprise inclusion in - and then shock winner of- the 2000 K-1 Oceania Grand Prix. That victory gave him entry to one of the larger K-1 events in Japan, facing world-beating Frenchman Jerome Le Banner. Mark lost but was convinced the next time he fought Le Banner, he would prevail.
When Mark started training at Tony Mundine's gym in Redfern he would meet two people who he now owes his career too- Alex Tui (left) the former middleweight world kickboxing champion who trained Mark, and Lucy Tui (right), who mentored and managed Mark when he most needed it. Both were generous in their help when assembling the book.
Ray Sefo: Fukuoka Grand Prix, Japan (2001)
One of the most famous fights in K-1 history, the sparks flew when South Auckland's Ray Sefo- already well established as the best fighter in Oceania- and Hunt, the usurper to the crown, clashed in a K-1 battle in Fukuoka, Japan.
Jerome Le Banner: World Grand Prix, Tokyo, Japan (2001)
Mark was a prohibative underdog in this K-1 QF fight against Le Banner, a man who was perhaps then the best fighter in the world. The finish would be one of the most memorable in Mark's career.
Francisco Filho: World Grand Prix, Tokyo, Japan (2001)
WIth 80,000 people in the Tokyo Dome, and 25 million Japanese watching on TV, Mark prevailed in this figh, with would be one of the most unlikely moments in combat sports history.
Mark was the first non-European to with the K-1 World Grand Prix, but his fame was defined by the way he did it. Here is the back page of a Japanese daily newspaper, with dubbed him 'The Samoan Monster,' a moniker that would endure in Japan for some time.