Apr 2, 2021

Mike Anderson

The father of modern competitive all-style kickboxing, WAKO and German Taekwondo.

When Mike Anderson started out in the martial arts he joined Allen Steen’s Taekwondo dojo in Dallas Texas in the 1959. Steen was a direct student of Jhoon Rhee, the Korean Grandmaster who was sent to American by the government to establish Korean culture and sports in the USA. Both, Steen and Rhee influenced Anderson in his early career when he introduced Taekwondo to Germany and when he established one of the first chains of commercial martial arts dojos in Oklahoma City and St. Louis.

Taekwondo Germany

Mike Anderson conducting a Taekwondo seminar in Essen, Germany in 1966.

The outspoken American veteran started to change the face of martial arts in America with his tournament Top Ten Nationals in 1967, the publication of his magazine Professional Karate in 1972 and by promoting the first fullcontact World Championships in professional contact karate in Los Angeles in 1974.

Fullcontact Karate Champions

1974: Producer Mike Anderson and TV host Telly Savalas crowning the first professional fullcontact karate champions:
Isias Duenas, Bill Wallace, Jeff Smith and Joe Lewis.

Anderson has widely been recognized as the creator of the original rules used for all-style karate tournaments. It’s the equivalent of today’s point fighting. Promoting the professional karate championships in Los Angeles in 1974 earned him the reputation of being the father of American kickboxing. It was the first time fullcontact fights took place with safety gear and with full contact. The show was televised nationwide in the USA and drew a large crowd. Joe Lewis, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, Jeff Smith and Isaias Duenas became the first champions of a new and spectacular sport.

Mike Anderson and Jhoon Rhee

Mike Anderson (l.) with Jhoon Rhee (r.) in Berlin around 1967. Both men have shared many events in the timeline of martial arts history. Anderson’s teacher, Allen Steen, was Jhoon Rhee’s student. Together they ‘imported’ Taekwondo to Germany. While Rhee developed the first protective gear for martial arts, his Safe-T equipment, Anderson was the man to introduce it first to point fighting at his Top Ten Nationals tournament in St. Louis in 1973 and in 1974 to fullcontact fighting at the Los Angeles world championships that created the PKA.

Anderson went on to co-found the Professional Karate Association, PKA, the first sanctioning body for pro kickboxing. Together with his friend Georg Brückner he brought professional fighting to Germany in 1975 but later sold his shares in the PKA back to the his partners, the Quines.
In cooperation with Brückner he developed the idea for an amateur kickboxing association which was formed in Paris in 1976, the World Martial Arts Association, WMAA. The rules and by-laws were created and in 1977 Anderson and Brückner founded WAKO (World All-Style Karate Organization) together with their most loyal students and supporters.
Mike Anderson served as the first president of the organization from the start until Oktober 1987. He promoted the 2nd World Championships in Tampa, 1979, various fight cards and tournaments.
At the World assembly in Munich in 1987 he was appointed to start the professional arm of WAKO, the Professional Kickboxing Organization, PKO. The promoters Michael Deubner, Benny Hedlund, Ennio Falsoni, Joe Johal and others promoted fight cards until 1992 with the likes of Don Wilson, Troy Dorsey, Ferdinand Mack and Massimo Liberati. In between he was the publisher of Fighter International and Martial Arts Digest print magazines.
Mike Anderson retired from kickboxing positions and lives in Florida together with his wife Alice.

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WAKO History

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