International Sport Kickboxing Association United Kingdom

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About ISKA

ISKA is recognised worldwide as both a regulating body for competitive martial arts, and the governing body for amateur and professional kickboxing. Hosting its annual World Martial Arts Championships at the prestigious US Open, ISKA crowns World Champions in seven types of martial arts competition.

Sanctioning hundreds of major title kickboxing events per year on five continents, ISKA continues to update rules, train and certify officials and maintain the ratings necessary to recognise both worthy champions, and world-rated kickboxing contenders in this fast and exciting sport.

ISKA’s international network of events ensures the credibility of their World Championship titles and gives these world-class athletes an international platform on which to perform. Live events are very well attended with major shows being broadcast around the world by several TV networks on terrestrial, cable, satellite and pay-per-view platforms.

Chuck Norris, Jean Claude van Damme, Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, Ernie Reyes Jr and Jeff Speakman are just a few of the names of the movie industry stars who have appeared at events in support of ISKA.

In order for martial arts to achieve status in the world as a mainstream sport, it is essential that the best title matches have consistent coverage on television and in the sports pages of major newspapers and magazines. ISKA has the experience and talent to drive world-class martial arts into the forefront of sport entertainment television.

ISKA has been represented in the United Kingdom buy the Ring Combat Sports Union (RCSU) since 1998. ISKA UK is the single largest sanctioning body in the UK.

ISKA History

Full contact kickboxing began in the USA in the early 1970s as full contact karate. Some karate competitors wanted to test their techniques without the rigid points fighting system, landing their strikes full contact. The first world championships of full contact karate were held in Los Angles in 1974. The first champions became legends: Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace and Jeff Smith.

YouTube video: Bill Wallace’s full-contact fights

The Professional Karate Association (PKA) was established in 1974 by Don and Judy Quine, along with Joe Corley. They took the burgeoning sport to a wider audience, signing a contract with American TV network ESPN. The PKA developed the first fighters’ ranking system: PKA Champions were the first high profile martial artists, the stars of a new sport. They included Jean-Yves Theriault, Brad Hefton, Jerry Trimble and Steve Sheppard.

YouTube video: Jean-Yves Theriault vs Emilio Naravez PKA 1980

When legal problems caused the downfall of the PKA in 1985 and it ceased to operate as a sanctioning body, a group of major USA promoters and former PKA executives decided to create a new body. On 16 July 1986, the International Sport Karate Association was born. Its first directors were Mike Sawyer, Karyn Turner, Tony Thompson, John Worley and Scott Coker. Most of the major PKA promoters began sanctioning with ISKA and several joined its administration. Major title bouts featuring the sport’s finest athletes were broadcast on the ESPN television network and brought credibility and recognition to the new sanctioning body.

The European arm of ISKA was established on 9 October 1986 when Oliver Muller, Jerome Canabate and Mohamed Hosseini were appointed ISKA European Directors. ISKA spread rapidly across Europe and when the iron curtain was lifted it was the first to sanction events in Eastern Bloc countries. By 1991 ISKA was the largest sanctioning body in the world with representatives in over 60 countries. Major title fights were sanctioned in Australia, Japan and South Africa. New disciplines were sanctioned and ISKA developed rules for freestyle (low kick), oriental rules (modified Thaiboxing) and Muaythai (full Muaythai rules).

YouTube video: Stan Longinidis vs Dennis Alexio: post-fight media coverage

The big names during the 1990s fighting on ISKA events were Rick Roufus, Denis Alexio, Stan ‘The Man’ Longinidis, Rob Kaman, Ernesto Hoost, Dida Diafat and Peter ‘Sugarfoot’ Cunningham. ISKA events were being televised around the world by companies such as ESPN, Showtime, Cannel+, Fox TV, Network 7, Skysports and Eurosport. There is no doubt that ISKA is the most televised sanctioning body in the world.

YouTube video: Rick Roufus vs Ernesto Hoost

Going into the new millennium ISKA worked with major fight sports brand K-1. Two ISKA world titles were sanctioned under oriental rules on the first K-1 MAX event in Tokyo on 1 November 2000. Japanese Star Masato defeated Murhad Sari of France for the welterweight title and Japan’s Takayuko Kohiruimaki defeated England’s Neil Woods for the super-welterweight title. Dutch superstar Ramon Dekker made his K-1 MAX debut, fighting to a draw with Japan’s Akeomi Nitta. ISKA began a working relationship with K-1, with leading ISKA promoter Scott Coker hosting K-1 USA events at the Bellagio and Mirage casino resorts in Las Vegas.

YouTube video: Masato vs Sari Ko

ISKA directors also advised on and have been involved in the development of Chuck Norris’s World Combat League, a team-based hybrid kickboxing league which is enjoying a second season on VERSUS cable TV.

YouTube video: World Combat League presented by Chuck Norris

Strikeforce was the leading promotion for ISKA world championship kickboxing in the USA and the main provider of ISKA programming for ESPN TV network for 12 years. Moving with the times, Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker unveiled the Strikeforce Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) series with the Shamrock versus Gracie event on 10 March 2006, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California. The Frank Shamrock versus Cesar Gracie match sold out the HP Pavilion in San Jose attracting a record audience of 18,265. Strikeforce co-produced its first Showtime pay-per-view MMA event featuring a world championship match between Frank Shamrock and Phil Baroni on 22 June 2007. Strikeforce has signed a deal with national American TV network NBC to broadcast a 52-week series of Strikeforce MMA hosted by ESPN veteran commentator Lon McEachern and MMA pioneer Ken Shamrock.

YouTube video: Frank Shamrock vs Cung Le

The current ISKA directors have been involved in the development of martial arts fight sports as promoters, judges, referees, managers, rules makers and more since the beginning of professional karate-kickboxing in the 1970s. In addition to sanctioning, ISKA also functions as a matchmaker, events coordinator and television broker.

ISKA UK management team

  • John Blackledge

    ISKA UK National Director of Referees and Officials

    John Blackledge

    John has been in martial arts for over 50 years and he is a Master in Pak-Mei kung fu, a black belt seventh dan in karate and is an ex-full contact world champion. John started karate in 1955 in the style of Shotokan karate and moved onto Okinawa Gojo-Rye. Read more

  • Mick Fowles

    ISKA UK National Director, Pro Division

    Mick Fowles

    Mick came from a dancing background; when he was assaulted on his way to a dancing lesson, he decided to take up martial arts. His first instructor was Sensei Eddie Daniels, who trained him in Shotokan Karate to the level green belt. Read more

  • Paul Hennessy

    ISKA UK Executive Director

    Paul Hennessy

    Paul always had a keen interest in martial arts. He attended judo classes at six years old, then as a teenager tried boxing and kung fu, but he took a real interest in 1983 when he join a full contact karate school. He studied and trained solidly and achieved his first dan black belt in 1986. Read more

  • Russ Williams

    ISKA National Director of Wales (Thaiboxing)

    Russ Williams

    Russ had his first fight in 1983. By 1985 he had won the British Thaiboxing title and in the same year he captured the European title when he knocked out Dutch star Tommy Van Der berg in his hometown of Amsterdam. Read more

  • Jagtar Johal

    ISKA National Director of England (Kickboxing)

    Jagtar Johal

    Jagtar’s first taste of kickboxing came in 1984 when he started training in Leicester under legendary five-time world champion, Trevor Ambrose. His talent for coaching and training other fighters became more and more evident as Trevor took him on as his partner in promoting some of the first kickboxing shows in the UK. Read more

  • Gary O’Brien

    ISKA National Director of Scotland (Thaiboxing)

    Gary O’Brien

    Gary started training in Muaythai at the age of nine. He took to the sport and learned quickly and was helping to teach classes as a junior instructor at age 13. As a senior Gary had a brief but successful competitive career winning silver and two bronze medals at IFMA Amateur World Muaythai Championships. Read more

  • Stuart Davies

    ISKA Regional Director of South-West England (Kickboxing)

    Stuart Davies

    Stuart started his martial arts career at nine years old with judo, then karate followed by boxing and kickboxing. In 1987 he gained his black belt in karate and kickboxing under Malcolm Burt. Stuart began a competitive career in sport karate points fighting and kata/forms, winning a first place in the 1988 Welsh Grand Prix. Read more

  • Mark Ellwood

    ISKA Regional Director of North-East England (Kickboxing)

    Mark Ellwood

    Mark started amateur boxing at Hull Boys Club at 12 years old. He boxed as a junior for three years, compiling a record of 6-2. A torn cartilage in the right knee stopped him training for a number of years. He started Wado Ryu Karate at 17 years old with John Moreton. Read more

  • Bern Giam

    ISKA Regional Director of North-West England (Kickboxing)

    Bern Giam

    Bern has over 30 years' experience. He started training from the age of seven under the guidance of Master Shin in Tae kwon do. After five years he took up Lau -Gar Kung Fu and Chinese Kickboxing with Master Yau and Mike Lavender. Read more