Andy Hug was born on the 7th of September 1964 in Zurich, Switzerland. His father, Arthur, a foreign legionnaire in the service of France, died in mysterious circumstances in Thailand, without ever once having spoken to his son. Difficult family circumstances forced his mother, Madelaine Hug-Baumann, to pursue gainful employment; Andy seldom saw her.
Without doubt, it was fortunate that he, together with his brother Charly and sister Fabienne, was permitted to grow up with his grandparents in Wohlen in the Canton of Argovia. His grandmother therefore slipped into the role of his mother and gave him the love that a child needs for his development.
His grandfather, Herrmann Baumann, worked as a bricklayer and provided the family's upkeep. The family led a very simple life, but were otherwise happy. Grandmother was the good-hearted soul of the household and at the same time at the centre of family life. Everyone sensed that her entire vital energy was spent on ensuring the children flourish and the upkeep of the house and garden. The honesty, modesty and the interpersonal warmth that she presented as an example to the children exercised a great influence on Andy. He experienced her as a woman whose Earth Mother-like and inexhaustible strength gave him support and feelings of security. Later, as a successful fighter, he emphasized again and again that harmonious family relationships are a necessary prerequisite for producing extraordinary achievements.
His relationship with his grandfather remained fraught with tension. Frictions and differences of opinion were an everyday event. Despite this, they liked one another, each in his own way.
Andy's grandfather died while Andy was still at school. A very painful experience and probably one of his most intense emotional experiences. This loss hit him hard; he missed his grandfather and needed a longer time before he had come to terms with this loss.
Andy had a good and close relationship with his three-year-older brother Charly, who always stood by him when he needed help. Initially, his five year older sister remained somewhat more distant. Only once Andy was older, did he find new access to his sister. They discovered their relationship to be a mutual enrichment and maintained loving contact up to his death.
Wohlen is a typical provincial village. The mentality of its inhabitants and the village life that is lived out in houses, shops and pubs, formed a fabric with its own order and with rules that youngsters have to obey. Everyone knows everyone else and is part of a network of relationships that characterizes several generations. There is no talk of hierarchy, but it exists as a reflection of the social structure of the village population. Andy and his brother and sister belonged without doubt to a social class that had very little say. For this reason, people later gave him the image of an underdog who wanted to assert himself over his social betters.
Very early on it turned out that Andy was a definite talent at sport. As a six-year-old, he started playing football. Only a few years later, he was picked for the 'U-16' (under sixteen-year-olds) for the Canton of Argovia and eventually nominated to play for Switzerland. At eleven, he was permitted to accompany a neighbour's son to karate practice for the first time. Despite strong opposition from his grandfather, he began to train in this Far-Eastern martial art. When he asked for a permit to train in karate, his grandmother became aware that there was more to it than just youthful enthusiasm. She employed all her skill and eventually managed to obtain his grandfather's agreement.
Andy's astounding development into a karate fighter was certainly with one reason in mind, namely that he would be better able to assert himself. At the same time though, it also had the consequence that other boys made fun of him, provoked him and tried to put him down. Though Andy suffered from this treatment, at the same time it fostered his independence and in time he learnt to hold his own against stronger boys. The karate training helped him achieve more self-confidence and enabled him to develop talents.
At thirteen, Andy already stood out as an exceptional talent and won many beginners' competitions. At this time his strength lay more in theoretical competition than in single combat. A year later he already counted as Switzerland's best trainee exponent. Under pressure from his grandparents, he had finally to decide between football and karate, since they were no longer in a position to pay for both. For Andy it was clear that he was going to devote himself in future to the Far Eastern art. He followed a strong inner motivation and no longer wanted to be successful just in the technical discipline but rather in future to gauge his strength at tournaments in single combat with others, and to win.
At the age of fifteen, his extraordinary combat talent was revealed and for the first time he won the national 'Oyama Cup'. At seventeen, he became joint founder of a new karate school in Bremgarten. At this time, he had already been a member of the elite national Kyokushinkai karate team for a year. Since the minimum age for full-contact fights was twenty, the up-and-coming young sportsman had to present the written permission of his grandparents. Three years later, he had established himself countrywide as a unique fighter with outstanding technical and mental abilities.
As a schoolboy, he dreamed of training as a sports teacher at a later date. Though his marks enabled him to go to the secondary school, there were limits to his interest in learning. Since no one gave him additional support or urged him on, his achievements at school remained average. During the final school year, his grandfather obtained an apprenticeship for him as a butcher in the same business where his brother was already working. Under pressure from his grandmother Fridy, he started his apprenticeship. However, right to the end of his apprenticeship, he was only interested in karate and he invested every spare moment in training.
Towards the end of his time at school, Andy hung around regularly with gangs of youths, who threatened to lead him astray. He sensed the urge to rebel against the prescribed order, but it did not really satisfy him. Fortunately, he thought better of it one day and changed course at the last moment. In Karate, he had found a path that enabled him to develop the required abilities to overcome his bad habits. He recognized that a successful fighter does not act with passion and violence, but rather from an inner conviction and determination that knows no defeat. He learnt quite naturally to accept the experiences of the street and to cope with their consequences. He succeeded in coming to terms with them, without suffering psychological damage.
In his training community, Andy had finally found friends, who had let themselves be infected and transported by his fire and his tireless commitment. They had become fellow travellers who demanded everything from one another during training. With his enduring dedication he had given them a lot and spurred them on again and again. Conversely, he had found partners in them that he needed in order to achieve his aims.
In the first half of the eighties, Andy took part in every tournament in Switzerland and abroad and thus collected such numerous and valuable fight experiences. Thanks to these, he began to understand, that an inner equilibrium was necessary to realize his grand vision and the plans linked to it.
In his milieu, many were astounded at his ability to think and act in an analytical and joined-up manner. Intuitively, he combined his technical ability, theoretical knowledge and information on his opponents and was also able to use or influence the mood of his spectators to his advantage. He was in a position to assess situations immediately and correctly, and to act accordingly.
Andy recorded his first international success in 1981 at the Dutch Kyokushinkai Karate Championships. This way, he drew international attention to himself. However, he attained great admiration two years later, when he took first place at the Europe Cup in Hungary. When observing his fights, spectators recognized even at this time qualities that would typify his style of fighting throughout his whole future career: He hit hard and effectively and employed his feet very accurately. His attacks were often not predictable. He was able to employ his 'high kicks' using both legs at the same time, much to the astonishment of spectators. 'Mawashi Geri' (round kick), 'Ushiro Geri' (backwards kick coming out of a turn') or his spectacular 'Kakato Geri' (Andy Kick) made his style of fighting exciting and attractive. Then at the Europe Cup in Hungary, Andy took part in the world championships for the first time in 1983. Around eighty fighters from all over the world were at the start of the open weight class. Andy was able to battle his way forward until he reached the first sixteen. With that he felt acknowledged: The top world rankings were within his grasp.
Despite his intensive commitment as a competitor, Andy finished his butchery apprenticeship in 1984 and took a job in Wohlen's main wholesale butchery. The many tournaments, for which he had in part to take extra time off, plus the occasional injuries that hindered his work performance, cast a shadow over his working relationship. By 'mutual agreement' it was confirmed two years later that he would be released from his contract and Andy financed his career from then on himself and with some support from his friends.
Well prepared and resolute, he made his way together with the national team to the world championships for the second time in 1987. He came out of every round as the winner. In the semi-final, he ran into the feared Akira Masuda from Japan. To the great astonishment of the spectators and particularly of Mas Oyama, the legendary head of Kyokushinkai, Andy defeated his opponent Masuda in a fight that was so uncompromising that the latter admits even now to having never fought a harder fight.
For the first time in the history of Kyokushinkai, a non-Japanese fighter, Andy, was taking part in the final: His opponent was called Akioshi Matsui, a further determined fighter from Japan. Representatives from all over the world witnessed Andy's great ability to use the unbelievable pressure such a situation creates to his benefit, and to rise above himself. Since both athletes had fought very well to the end, experts argue even today over the real result. In any case, the referees declared Matsui as the winner on points.
Andy had become acquainted with Ilona at a photo shoot early in the summer of 1987. This first encounter had left a big impression on him. Although Andy had been convinced since this meeting that Ilona was the most beautiful woman that he had ever seen in his life, they lost touch with one another for quite some time. On the occasion of a further shoot in the autumn, their ways crossed once again and the amazing story of a deep relationship began. Andy felt intoxicated with love and inspired by the idea of winning Ilona over. Whenever two people find one another and experience the expanse of giving and taking, it can certainly be compared with Budo, the path of the martial arts: Past and future are without meaning. The only thing that counts is the infinity of the here and now.
It was actually Ilona's intention at this time to take up the modelling contract she had been offered in Los Angeles. She had already deregistered at her place of residence, given up her flat and booked her flight.
However, fate had decided otherwise. Andy asked Ilona to stay with him forever. The pair was linked from then on by an extraordinary partnership in every respect, which gave their life more strength and meaning.