ISKA UK National Director of Referees and Officials
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.
He trained for many years in karate before moving to the kung fu system of Pak-Mei-Wu-Chi-Yun. John has travelled the world competing in tournaments representing his country, including the World Kung Fu Championships in Hong Kong in 1970 which was attended by the great Bruce Lee. John also competed in Contact Sport Karate in the USA; during the mid 1970s he fought Chuck Norris three times.
As John’s competitive career was near its end, the new sport full contact karate (kickboxing) was launched in America. John got involved as an official and refereed some of the earliest full contact kickboxing matches staged in the UK, which at that time were still taking place on a matted area. John was later recognised by several international sanctioning bodies as the most accomplished referee in Europe. When Thaiboxing was introduced to the UK in the late 1970s, John was the first to referee Thaiboxing matches under European rules and later Muaythai matches under full Muaythai rules, the first Westerner to do so.
John refereed the first Muaythai World Championship event staged in the UK and broadcast live to Thailand in 1990. During the event John was presented with an Honourable Award by the Ambassador of Thailand in recognition for his services to Muaythai. He has refereed over 20,000 fights in full contact, kickboxing, K-1, and Muaythai, many of them televised around the world. He was chief referee for several world sanctioning bodies, but since 2007 he has worked exclusively with ISKA UK.
ISKA UK management team
- John Blackledge, ISKA UK National Director of Referees and Officials
- Mick Fowles, ISKA UK National Director, Pro Division
- Paul Hennessy, ISKA UK Executive Director
- Russ Williams, ISKA National Director of Wales (Thaiboxing)
- Jagtar Johal, ISKA National Director of England (Kickboxing)
- Gary O’Brien, ISKA National Director of Scotland (Thaiboxing)
- Stuart Davies, ISKA Regional Director of South-West England (Kickboxing)
- Mark Ellwood, ISKA Regional Director of North-East England (Kickboxing)
- Bern Giam, ISKA Regional Director of North-West England (Kickboxing)