Respect Your Elders: A Look Into Kickfighting History with David Leonardo Barcena (Pt. 2)

In the last two or three years kickboxing and muay thai has undergone somewhat of an explosion in the western world. With the introduction of massive organizations like GLORY, Lion Fight, Superkombat, MAX, and Thai Fight, kickfighting is experiencing a surge of popularity that nearly rivals its golden age appeal.

Contrary to what youtube may lead us to be believe, the sport of kickboxing did not begin with K-1. Before the original continent spanning promotion changed the perception of what kickboxing was, certain legendary fighters from around the world helped establish the sport we know today.

David Leonardo Barcena is a longtime student of kickboxing history. A resident of Spain, David is currently in the midst of composing a book on the history of kickboxing. In this weekly segment on Fight Sport Asia, David Leonardo Barcena will give us a glimpse into the heart this sport’s storied and (mostly) unwritten past. We might see fighter highlights, organization highlights, or stories from an era most of us weren’t around to remember.

We sincerely appreciate David granting us his insight into a near forgotten aspect of sports lore, and would like to thank him by encouraging the progress of his new book, set to be released at an undefined date.

— Los Angeles 1974, the Mythical Full Contact Karate World Championships


Although the American Kickboxing scene has been active irregularly since 1970, it was not until 1974 with the World Full contact Karate championships in Los Angles that the boom of Kickfighting emerged in the United States.

The idea behind the Karate World Championships was in essence a karate tournament with traditional kickboxing rules instead of semi-contact, which had preceded it. Thus was born the the name “Full Contact Karate” or simply “Full contact.” This term was used for many years afterwards and even today in quite a few countries.

The event was organized by one Mike Anderson. Earlier, in May 1974, Anderson’s friend Georg Brückner organized a qualification tournament in Berlin to decide the that would Europeans fight in Los Angeles. The Berlin tournament was semi contact rules.

The championship was held in Los Angeles sports arena, in September 14, 1974.

The event was huge. It took place before the ABC TV’s cameras and was heavily assisted by the presence of a supportive public, guest stars from film and television, and the coverage of many martial arts magazines.

The four champions in their respective weight divisions are now considered legends of contact sports: The lightweight champion Isaias Duenas (Mexico), middleweight Bill Wallace (USA) light heavyweight Jeff Smith (USA) and heavyweight Joe Lewis (USA)

The four magnificent.

After this one tournament “Full Contact” spread like wildfire around the United States and Europe, and lived its period of glory during the 1980s.

Video Los Angeles 1974

By David Leonardo Bárcena


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Categories: Kickboxing, Other


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