THE SPORT OF KICKBOXING TRIUMPHED ACROSS THE GLOBE INTO THE 20TH CENTURY WITH WAKO MAKING HISTORY.
However, kickboxing’s roots carry a long untold story that dates back to the 1200’s.
REVIEW THE RICH HISTORY OF KICKBOXING BELOW:
(1238 – 1377) – Sukothai Era – ‘Muay Boran’ was practiced and began the transition to a means of personal advancement for nobility as well as a style for Siamese warriors to practice.
Early 1500’s – Muay Thai (the art of eight limbs) was evolved from Muay Boran as practical fighting techniques for battle by natives in Siam (Thailand) in defense against attacking Burmese War Lords who also used aspects of this Martial Art for warfare.
1560 – King Naresuan rose to power in Siam on his talents in “the art of eight limbs” and began incorporating this technique into formal military training as his country gained independence from foreign Burmese influence.
– Muay integrated into festivals and celebrations held in Temples
– Muay became a sport for Entertainment
1774 – Nai Khanom Tom, A legendary Muay Boran-Thai fighter defeated a Burmese champion and then nine more soldiers in succession without rest in front of the Burmese king who is said to have freed him and other Siamese captives after the feat.
– His successes are celebrated on Boxer’s Day, sometimes also called National Muay Thai Day.
1868 – King Rama V interest in the sport of Muay Thai Kickboxing ushered in the “Golden Age” of the sport on an international level. The Peaceful King pushed for the developing sport to be practiced as such with protective gear and rules.
– Foreigners picked up the “art of eight limbs” in transit through Thailand combined their boxing skills with Muay and became known as “foreign boxers” as the sport continued to grow.
1920 – Muay Thai began to be used, separating itself from the older art of Muay Boran.
1921 – Thailand built its first kickboxing arena at Suan Kularp.
1925 – King Rama VII modernized Muay Thai Kickboxing by pushing for solid ground rules for competition.
1960 – Japan adopts and actively promotes Muay Kickboxing with (Karate-do) as a primary source for entertainment.
1966 – Japanese boxing promoter by the name of Osamu Noguchi wanted to foster a style of martial art that held true to karate in some ways but allowed full striking, as the karate tournaments at the time did not.
Osamu pitted three karate fighters against three Muay Thai practitioners in a full contact style competition. The Japanese won this competition 2-1.
1967 – Osamu Noguchi and Kenji Kurosaki, one of the fighters that took on the Muay Thai opposition back in 1966 went to study Muay Thai and blended it with full contact karate and boxing to form a martial art style that would eventually come to be known as kickboxing.
1969– Toshio Fujiwara began dominating Japanese Kickboxing winning 123 of 141 matches, including an astounding 99 by TKO.
– Fujiwara was also the first non-Thai to win a national Muay Thai title belt in Bangkok.
1970-(75) – Bruce Lee ignites the “Golden Age of Karate” with the United States’ when filmmakers harnessed Martial Arts and full contact karate in television & movies making way for the future of international kickboxing.
1970 – Vietnam Marine Veteran Joe Lewis fought his first “kickboxing fight” against Greg Baines in the USA.
This was the first fight where boxing gloves were used and the name kickboxing was mentioned in the announcement in this prototype full contact karate match in Long Beach, CA.
After studying under Bruce Lee since 1967, Joe Lewis is given credit as the first American Martial Artist to adapt full contact karate into kickboxing.
Joe’s total professional record amassed was 16 wins and 4 losses, 14 of which were by TKO.
1970 – European Karate Union joint ventured with the Federation of All Japan Karate-do Organizations to form WUKO (World Union of Karate-do Organizations)
1974 – Full contact karate, now known as kickboxing, was formally originated in Los Angeles when Mike Anderson, George Bruckner partnered with Don and Judy Quine to form the first world sanctioning body for the new sport and named it the PKA (Professional Karate Association).
The PKA was launched with the ABC telecast of the 1st world championships in 1974 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
The initial championship stars were:
Joe Lewis (heavyweight)
Jeff “the DC bomber” Smith (light heavyweight)
Bill “Superfoot” Wallace (middleweight)
Isiasis Duenas (lightweight)
Vernon “Thunder Kick Mason” (bantamweight)
Jeff Smith began his ascent into kickboxing history eventually turning in 33 wins and 3 losses, 15 of which were TKO.
Air Force Veteran and kickboxing legend Bill “Superfoot” Wallace began his rise to stardom in the PKA eventually winning 23 times with 0 losses, 13 of which were by TKO.
1976 – WKA (World Karate and Kickboxing Association) was founded by Howard Hanson and Arnold Urquidez.
WKA was the first sanctioning body to establish a world championship division for women, use an independently controlled rating list and the first to include countries from Asia.
WKA early stars:
Benny “The Jet” Urquidez
Don “The Dragon” Wilson
Native American warrior Benny “The Jet” Urquidez ascended into legendary status when he fought in the first WKA-PKA event in Los Angeles having already compiled a professional record of 25-0-1 since 1974.
Benny’s documented professional record is an astounding 63 wins and 0 losses with a reported 57 TKO’s.
1977 – George Bruckner and Mike Anderson pioneered full contact karate in Europe founding the World All Style Karate Organization WAKO to compete with WUCO in Berlin on February 26th.
WAKO established itself as the authentic Kickboxing Federation of the World by developing the rules and regulations for full contact karate fighting sports with 13 founding members from 8 different countries being present.
Sanctioning bodies that subsequently came into existence in the following years:
WAKO-Pro (World Association of Kickboxing Organizations – Professional)
ISKA (International Sport Karate Association)
KICK (Karate International Council of Kickboxing)
PKC (Professional Karate Commission)
1977 – Don “The Dragon” Wilson took on the national spotlight for the first time defeating Howard Hayden when a Karate Magazine called him “the flash”. This inspired him to roar through professional kickboxing amassing a record of 72 wins and 5 losses to 2002. 47 were by TKO.
1977 – Joe Corely joined the PKA aligning with ESPN until
1986 resulting more than 1000 hrs of kickboxing television content.
1978 – George Bruckner promoted the first WAKO World Kickboxing Championships in Germany, with 110 competitors representing 18 countries.
1979 – Mike Anderson promoted the second WAKO World Kickboxing Championships in Florida.
1983 – WAKO officially changed its name from World All Style Karate Organization to World Associations of Kickboxing Organizations as its influence grew internationally against WUCO.
1984 – Ennio Falsoni, former 72’ WUKO world karate championship runner-up began to lead WAKO.
The WKA now led by Holland’s Fred Royer declined a partnership with WAKO who attempted to preserve the sanctioning bodies as they were.
1985 – WAKO had 2 organizations, 1 led by Ennio Falsoni and 1 led by George Bruckner.
Richard Leyrer promoted the 1985 World Championship in Budapest which became a turning point in WAKO’s organization.
1987 – WAKO’s 2 organizations united together behind Ennio Falsoni vision.
George Bruckner promoted the next World Championship in Munich.
Kickboxing had started to gain in popularity all over the world, to the point where it had become both an internationally recognized sport as well as a martial arts discipline.
1988-(89) – Jon Claude Van Damme brought kickboxing to Hollywood’s main stage starring in the films “Bloodsport” (1988) and “Kickboxer” (1989).
1991 – WAKO officially decided to adopt the low-kick into its sanctioning rules.
1992 – Kathy Long the “Queen of Mean” gets inducted into her 2nd Black Belt Hall of Fame while amassing a professional kickboxing record of 18 wins and 1 loss with:
– 2 KICK World Titles – 1 WKA World Title – 1 ISKA World Title – 1 WMAC World Title –
1994 – Fredia Gibbs defeated “the most dangerous woman in the world” Valerie Henin in “The Battle of the Masters”.
– The defeat in April 1994 made Gibbs the first African American female to hold the world kickboxing championship for the ISKA.
2000 – WAKO adopted Thai/Aero kickboxing into its sanctioning body.
2006 – April 7 in Seoul, Korea – Under the direction of Horst Prelog and Ennio Falsoni the merger IAKSA with WAKO was a condition of the GAIFS (SPORTACCORD) to become members to this prestigious Organization for International Sports organizations.
This membership recognized Kickboxing as a Sport and WAKO as the World Body to organize Kickboxing the first time in history.
2007 – WAKO participated in the African Games and the Asian Indoor Games that was held in China.
WAKO became a member of SPORTACCORD and contributed to create the World Combat Games, an event that gathered the elites of the Martial Arts and Fighting Sport Federations.
WAKO Kickboxing was one of thirteen combat sports participating in the first ever World Combat Games.
2012 – Espun Lund prepares take on the role as the next in line to run WAKO with Horst Prelog as his Vice President.
2013 – WAKO Team USA traveled to Russia to attend the second edition of the World Combat Games.
WAKO in the United States has expanded and taken a name for itself. President, Rob Zbilski, has rebuilt WAKO Team USA and will continue to do so. Moving forward, WAKO Team USA has a full tournament schedule with the agenda to sanction the champions of kickboxing in six rule styles.
2014 – International World Games Association (IWGA) voted Kickboxing which will be on display as part of the next edition of the World Games in 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland.
WAKO counts on a market of kickboxers estimated to be around 3,000,000 participants and no less than 25,000 clubs around the world.
WAKO can count over 130 affiliated nations in the 5 continents, and in the great majority of its cases, WAKO unites the strongest and best national kickboxing organizations.
2015 – WAKO’s membership with SPORTSACCORD has spearheaded Kickboxing’s future with working for acquiring International Olympic Committee recognition for the 2020 Games.