The Swiss K-1 evenings were born from Andy and Ilona's mutual visions. When the events in Japan began to boom at the start of the nineties, Andy began to dream of enabling his friends and all other people in his homeland to enjoy this experience. His wife Ilona was convinced that the event had to be held in a big setting in order to be successful. They jointly decided to carry out the first K-1 happening in Zurich's "Hallenstadium", even though many friends advised them against planning the first event on such a large scale. In 1994, they invited several colleagues and business partners to a pub in Wohlen and jointly created the vision for a Fight Night in Zurich, which was to form a bridge for the martial art from Japan to Europe.
Since the first Fight Night in 1995 became a resounding and immediate success, they decided to make use of this new wave, and the whole vision that lay behind K-1 became the model for future events. Their small crew worked with great commitment in developing the K-1 concept for Switzerland and Europe. Spectators and the media reacted with a great deal of enthusiasm to the Zurich Fight Nights. In the martial arts scene, there was a readiness to go forward, plus new and previously undreamt of development possibilities were beginning to emerge.
A shadow was cast over Andy's career in 1995 by his two defeats against a South African fighter previously unknown to him up till then. Some critics maintained that he had encountered a 'respectable opponent', whom he was unable to vanquish. In the autumn of 1996, though he once more had no end of successful fights behind him - in Switzerland, the K-1 tournaments were likewise on track since 1995 to becoming well known above and beyond martial arts circles – Andy was nevertheless struggling with an inner conflict, namely that between his ideal as a fighter and reality. Up till then he had never managed to win the K-1 Grand Prix. This is the most significant tournament for a K-1 fighter. He had prepared himself for it with iron discipline. In his second fight he encountered the Dutch thoroughbred fighter Ernesto Hoost. After extra time, Andy won on points. The two opponents for the final had been established: Andy Hug and Mike Bernardo. Andy summoned up all his strength and went into the ring to contest his last fight of the evening. To the delight of his Japanese fans, he succeeded in putting Bernardo out of action. Andy Hug was the new Grand Prix champion. In that year the popularity of K-1 increased even more. The Fuji TV ratings rose by up to 20% and in the media people began to talk about a social phenomenon that clearly stood out from other types of sports.
Following the opening of the advance booking office in 1997, it took exactly an hour until the greater part of the 70,000 available tickets had been sold. This time, the promoter Ishii had dared to move to the Tokyo Dome, a gigantic modern building. The two most significant elimination tournaments had already been held in the Nagoya and Osaka Domes. Further world associations for karate and kickboxing began working in co-operation with K-1. The K-1 Grand Prix achieved major importance worldwide. The Grand Prix counted as a master in all classes. Despite a broken toe, Andy defeated Peter Aerts in the second bout and barely lost the last one to Ernesto Hoost on points. The fans had not reckoned on him, since he had lost two fights at the beginning of the year. However, with this honourable second place he had revealed that his positive attitude and his staying power remained unbroken.
In the final bout of the 1998 Grand Prix, Andy was pitched against Peter Aerts. In his previous match, Andy came up against the Australian giant, Sam Greco. This bout was fought so ruthlessly by both of them, that Andy lost too much strength to achieve a win. In the end he lacked the required energy to assert himself over Aerts and once more he had to be satisfied with second place.
1999 was the most successful year for K-1 since its inception. Record numbers of spectators were recorded for all tournaments. In the first half of that year, Andy provided his fans with sensational fights. However at the World Grand Prix, fate wrecked his plans. In the second bout, he was up against Ernesto Hoost. As early as in the first round, the groin injury that he had sustained a month earlier became acute. This handicap was so severe that he could not employ his legs as he was used to doing. He had to admit defeat on points and accept it whether he liked it or not.