The STAR System

STAR System

STAR SYSTEM provided professional kickboxing records as compiled by the STAR System world ratings during the decade of the 1980s. Its purpose was to make public rare and hard-to-find historic kickboxing outcomes involving the sport’s early celebrated champions. It was a public service information without commercial intent.

STAR SYSTEM WORLD RATINGS
The Standardized Tournaments And Ratings (STAR) System was an independent rating service for professional kickboxing that advanced the promotional earning power of top professional kickboxers as well as encouraged the popularity of the sport by identifying undisputed world champions and world-class contenders. The STAR System also maintained significant fight result data from all major sanctioning organizations and independent promotions worldwide. It was recognized as the official organizational ratings source for the World Kickboxing Association (WKA), the Karate International Council of Kickboxing (KICK), the World Kickboxing Council (WKC), the US Kick-Fighting League (USKL) and the Nederlandse Kick Boxing Bond (NKBB).

Between 1980-1989, the STAR System World Kickboxing Ratings and its compendium Kickboxing Report sports column appeared monthly in assorted martial arts and sports magazines around the globe including Official Karate (USA), KICK Illustrated (USA), Inside Kung-Fu (International), American Karate (USA), Ring Arts (USA), Karate Today (USA), Karate Monthly (USA), Blitz (Australia), Martial Arts Energy (Australia) , Martial Arts (British Hong Kong), Karate (France), Ring International (France), SamuraiBanzaiPugilato (Italy), Gong (Japan), This Is Martial Arts (Japan) and Zendokan (Netherlands).

Kickboxing world rankings
One of the first world rankings as published by the STAR System in 1980. Each fighter was transparently awarded points based on recent performance, record and titles. Click for full sized image.

HISTORY
The STAR ratings began in early 1980 as part of a behind-the-scenes initiative by then Inside Kung-Fu editor Paul Maslak with newsstand rival Karate Illustrated editor Renardo Barden to try to minimize injuries on the nation’s weekend tournament karate circuit. They agreed to require tournament promoters, as a condition for nationally-rated competition and magazine coverage, to mandate the use of safety equipment for fighting eliminations, to seed top-ranked competitors into the final elimination rounds and to establish separate women’s divisions in all areas of competition. Inside Kung-Fu publisher Curtis Wong further incentivized these requirements by offering STAR-rated tournaments a free full-page promotional ad for tournament directors who consented. Every major open tournament throughout the US quickly complied; tournament injuries declined substantially.

Short bio: Who is Paul Maslak!

By March 1980, during routine event coverage and personality interviews, the magazine staff intercepted many bitter complaints from prominent competitors that the world rankings for professional kickboxing (early on called “full-contact karate”) from the key sanctioning bodies were improperly manipulated. Preferred champions were surrounded by easy contenders, favorite contenders were rewarded with higher rankings than merited, and disfavored contenders were punished with lower rankings than merited or no ranking at all.

Upon investigation Maslak and John Corcoran, a former PKA events coordinator and then editor of sister publication KICK Illustrated, quickly concluded that the complaints appeared accurate. In an article entitled “Down with Politics!” (KICK Illustrated, August 1980), they announced that the STAR System amateur tournament ratings would expand into professional kickboxing to compel the sport’s governing organizations into a more responsible rankings behavior. The new STAR world ratings would be a performance ranking, statistically controlled, based on actual ring outcomes. Personal opinion was out. A contender had to fight to get into the ratings, and had to fight to stay there. There would be no exceptions, not even for world champions.

Short bio: Who is John Corcoran

Publisher Curtis Wong decided that the STAR System copyright would be owned by Maslak so that the ratings could be syndicated into unaffiliated publications. Maslak and Corcoran published the first STAR world professional kickboxing ratings as of July 15, 1980, in KICK Illustrated, Inside Kung-Fu and in rival publisher Al Weiss’ Official Karate. The World Kickboxing Association (WKA) immediately recognized STAR as its official ratings source; other sanctioning organizations followed. The STAR System discontinued its tournament ratings when Maslak left Inside Kung-Fu at the end of 1981 and, thereafter, the STAR professional kickboxing ratings quickly became the international gold standard for the sport.

Don Wilson
Freelancing champions like Don “The Dragon” Wilson were able to gain appropriate recognition from independent ratings and no longer needed to sign exclusive deals with match-makers.

Throughout the 1980s, the STAR System world ratings for professional kickboxing appeared at various times in over fifteen newsstand publications around the world but always found a permanent home at Official Karate and its affiliate American Karate. The ratings helped internationalize the sport by encouraging transnational matchmaking, and by enabling free agent champions such as: Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, Rob “The Dutchman” Kaman, Stan “The Man” Longinidis, Dennis “The Terminator” Alexio, Maurice Smith, Peter “Sugarfoot” Cunningham, Fred “The Gladiator” Royers, James Warring, Yasuo Tabata, Graciela “The Goddess” Casillas, Cheryl Wheeler and Lucia Rijker.

Paul Maslak dissolved the STAR world ratings in 1989 after his work in the motion picture industry and family obligations became too demanding of his time.

STATISTICAL RANKING SYSTEM
The STAR System relied on a statistical technique adapted from international tournament chess competition. The technique ranked top competitors according to the number of rating points they won in world-class competition. Specifically, rating points were awarded for each victory and deducted for each loss. The number of points awarded or deducted was prorated relative to how highly ranked their opponent at the time of the bout, as well as by the margin of victory or defeat.

For example, a number-five contender might earn 10 ratings points for defeating the number-one contender but only 1 rating point for defeating an unranked opponent. In the case of a split or majority decision, the winner advanced along the usual progressive point scale and the loser was assigned rating points as though the bout had been a draw. Also, in accordance with ring tradition, any time a lower-ranked contender knocked out a higher-ranked contender, the lower-ranked contender moved ahead of his opponent in the ratings regardless of the statistical computations. First round TKOs from cuts had no impact on the ratings.

STAR RATINGS TABLE
Difference
in
Rating Points
HIGHER-RATED COMPETITOR
LOWER-RATED COMPETITOR
Wins
Loses
Draws
Wins
Loses
Draws
Add (+)
Minus (-)
Minus (-)
Add (+)
Minus (-)
Add (+)
0-6
8
8
0
8
8
0
7-12
7
9
1
9
7
1
13-37
6
10
2
10
6
2
38-62
5
11
3
11
5
3
63-112
4
12
4
12
4
4
Over 113
3
13
5
13
3
5
Bottom Five vs Unrated
2
Top Five vs Unrated
1

 

The highest-rankings went to those competitors who accomplished the most, most recently, inside the kickboxing ring. Contenders were at times ranked equally, and the top five contenders sometimes leapfrogged one another in a monthly race to the number-one contender rank. Inactivity and avoidance of major competition were routinely penalized every six months through rating point deductions. Sanctioning affiliations and personal opinion had no bearing on the STAR rankings.

STAR EQUALIZATION FINDINGS
For purposes of ratings and ring records, the STAR System distinguished between amateur and professional bouts, excluded bouts from other related combative sports (boxing, muay Thai, wrestling), as well as arbitrated any peculiarities that occurred in the early and unruly era of kickboxing’s rapidly changing rules and uneven standards for fair competition. The STAR System had no interest in advancing one competitor over another and never interfered with a competitor’s official kickboxing record beyond the aforementioned distinctions.

Muay Thai
The STAR System only rated world class competition where kickboxers received purses to fight to an impartially judged decision, or a knockout, with kicks and punches in weight-regulated bouts organized in accordance with the round system. Judging for each round leading to a decision had to follow the international standard for overall effectiveness within striking-without-holding competition and without favoritism toward any prescribed set of techniques or martial arts style. The STAR System, therefore, regarded Muay Thai competition as separate from modern kickboxing. The holding-and-striking techniques permitted in muay Thai materially change the emphasis of the competition from finesse infighting and outfighting to aggressive clinch-fighting. Also, most notably, in most Muay Thai rings competitors are judged on the basis of classic muay Thai techniques. In other words, a kickboxer could overwhelmingly dominate a round physically but lose on the scorecards because he did not employ muay Thai techniques.

STAR UNDISPUTED WORLD CHAMPIONS
The STAR System recognized undisputed world champions from among the champions of sanctioning bodies that had a large enough network of promotions to support ongoing contender eliminations leading to title bouts. A champion became undisputed in the STAR ratings: 1) by defeating an established STAR champion in a title defense or 2) through the acclamation of a polled cross-section of respected ring observers.

PROFICIENCY CLASSES
The STAR System group-ranked all competitors, from novice to professional, in accordance with the following proficiency classifications:

– Competitors who were world-ranked in the top-ten with divisional rating points above 5000 as determined by the STAR world ratings. Recommended for main as well as regional, national, continental and world title bouts.
– Competitors who were veteran professionals but not currently ranked in the top-ten. An A-Class ranking required the approval of an authorized STAR System Ring Observer. The most prominent of these competitors were world ranked in the STAR System as Designated Contenders with rating points between 4000 to 4999. Recommended for seven round main and semi­-main event bouts.
– Competitors who were novice professionals, generally with fewer than six professional victories. Recommended for five round semi-main event and preliminary bouts.
– Competitors who were veteran amateurs. Recommended for three to five round bouts.
– Competitors who were novice amateurs, generally with fewer than four amateur victories. Restricted to three round bouts only.

WEIGHT DIVISIONS
In recognition of the extreme variation in regulated weight divisions and names between the different promoters and sanctions, the STAR System followed the international weight divisions (though adjusted for more consistent changes in body weight) and divisional names as first established in 1892 for professional combative competition:

Division
Pounds
Kilos
Heavyweight
Over 192
Over 87.0
Cruiserweight
183.1-192
83.1-87
Super Light-Heavyweight
175.1-183
79.1-83
Light-Heavyweight
167.1-175
76.1-79
Super Middleweight
160.1-167
72.6-76
Middleweight
153.1-160
69.6-72.5
Super Welterweight
146.1-153
66.1-69.5
Welterweight
140.1-146
63.6-66
Super Lightweight
135.1-140
61.1-63.5
Lightweight
130.1-135
59.1-61
Super Featherweight
126.1-130
56.6-59
Featherweight
120.1-125
54.6-56.5
Super Bantamweight
118.1-122
53.6-55.5
Bantamweight
115.1-118
52.1-53.5
Super Flyweight
112.1-115
51.1-52
Flyweight
Under 112
Under 51
Women’s Divisions
Catchweight
Over 120
Over 54
Super Bantamweight
118.1-122
53.6-55.5
Bantamweight
115.1-118
52.1-53.5
Super Flyweight
112.1-115
51.1-52

 

CANONS OF ETHICAL MATCHMAKING
1. Competitors should be matched only against other competitors in the same proficiency classification or, on a trial basis, against a competitor in the next highest proficiency classifi­cation.
2. Competitors who are separated by more than one proficiency class­ification should only be matched in non-competitive exhibition bouts.
3. Amateur competitors who receive “training expenses,” as commonly occurs in Europe, or competitors from related professional com­bative sports such as French, English, and muay Thai boxing, may be matched against an appropriate proficiency classification of kickboxing professional.
4. In any match below the unlimited weight division, the heavier competitor’s weight should not exceed his opponent’s body weight by more than 2.5 percent.
5. The final pre-fight weigh-in should never occur earlier than 36 hours before the scheduled start of the kickboxing event. Competitors should be neither required nor permitted to lose weight after such final pre-fight weigh-in or, especially, within 24 hours of the bout.
6. An injured, severely stunned, or knocked out competitor should not be permitted to fight for a minimum of 30 days to 8 weeks after such injury whether or not the injury occurred inside the kickboxing ring. Matchmakers should check the health histories of each scheduled competitor with the local athletic commission, the sanctioning bodies, or with the STAR System.
7. Male and female competitors must not be competitively matched. Matches between the opposite sexes may occur, however, in closely controlled non-competitive exhibition bouts.

RESPECTED RING OBSERVERS
Anyone could report fight results to the STAR System, though verification from a known reliable source (newspaper, magazine, videotape, recognized ring observers) would be required for submissions from an unknown or questionable source. Most fight result data were collected through the STAR System’s worldwide network of respected ring observers: sports reporters, free-lance writers, magazine editors, sanctioning officials, promoters, managers and trainers. Also, as the official ratings source for the WKA, KICK and other organizations, the STAR System often received master score sheets from many major events. Through these various methods, virtually all significant fight results from anywhere in the world fed into the STAR ratings.

Over its decade of operations, the STAR System was assisted in the field by over 250 ring observers worldwide. The more prominent or prolific included:

AUSTRALIA
Bob Jones, WKA Australia president, manager, promoter, publisher (Martial Arts Energy)
Malcolm Lomax, Trainer
Stan Longinidis, world champion
Silvio Morelli, publisher (Blitz)

BRITAIN
B.P. Ayling, magazine editor, publisher (Fighters)
Master Toddy, manager, trainer
Fred Royers, world champion, magazine reporter, color commentator
George Sfetas, promoter, official, trainer

CANADA
BC – Barry Adkins, promoter, manager
BC – Don Arnott, manager, promoter, official
BC – Dale Floyd, WKA president, manager, trainer
AL – Tom Forestreuter, Manager
BC – John Fowler, manager, trainer
AL – Frank Lee, manager, trainer, promoter
ON – Mick McNamara, promoter
AL – Mike Miles, promoter, manager
QC – John Therien, manager, trainer
BC – Trevor Wallden, promoter
BC – Robin Webb, manager, trainer

FRANCE
Jean-Paul Ardissone, promoter
Pierre Yves Benoliel, sports photojournalist, magazine editor (Karate-Bushido)
Gilles Barissat, magazine publisher (Karate-Bushido)
M. Armand Daure, promoter, official
Rolland Gaillac, magazine publisher (Karate)
Dominique Georges, magazine editor (Karate)
Jean-Paul Maillet, magazine reporter
Roger Pashy, promoter
Fred Royers, world champion, magazine reporter, color commentator, official

GERMANY
Mike Anderson, PKA founder, promoter, magazine publisher (Professional Karate, The Fighter International)
Georg Bruckner, WAKO president, promoter
Michael Deubner, magazine reporter
Jürgen Lutz, promoter, trainer
Daniel M. Pond, promoter, trainer, official
Norbert Schiffer, magazine editor (Karate/Budo Journal)
Detlef Turnau, promoter, official

HONG KONG
Russell Choi, promoter
Roy Horan, media representative
Howard Hanson, WKA president
Simon Hung, events manager, WKA official
Reno Lam, promoter
James Wilson, manager, trainer

IRELAND
Rom Lawler, promoter

ITALY
Spartaco Bertoletti, magazine editor (Banzai)
Ennio Falsoni, WAKO president, promoter
Italo Scrocchia, WKA representative

JAPAN
Kimio Akagi, AJKBA president, WKA Japan president, promoter
Howard Hanson, WKA president & founder
Tatsumi Okamura, promoter
Mary Sickles, English-Japanese translator
Arnold Urquidez, trainer, manager
James Wilson, manager, promoter

MEXICO
Travis Everett, competitor, promoter, official
Mario Guerero, WKA representative

NETHERLANDS
Thom Harinck, MTBN president, manager, promoter
Jan Plas, manager, trainer
Fred Royers, world champion, magazine reporter, color commentator

SWITZERLAND
Jeronimo Canabate, EPKA president, WKA representative, promoter
Johnny Canabate, official, contender
Olivier Muller, official

TURKEY
Mohammed Hosseini, promoter

USA
FL – Mike Anderson, PKA president, founder & promoter, magazine publisher (Professional Karate, The Fighter International)
HI – Steve Arakaki, official
MO – Frank Babcock, KICK president, founder, promoter
CA – Renardo Barden, magazine editor (Karate Illustrated)
CA – Abe Belardo, WKA representative
PR – Hector Caba, promoter
CA – Graciela Casillas, world champion, magazine columnist
NV – Bob Channey, WKA representative
MO – Larry Caster, KICK official
NM – Melcor Chavez, official
CA – He Il Cho, trainer, promoter
CA – Scott Coker, promoter
CA – Jim Coleman, magazine executive editor (Black Belt)
OK – Dale Cook, world champion, manager, trainer
CA – John Corcoran, PKA events coordinator, magazine editor (KICK Illustrated, Martial Arts Success)
AR – Anthony Elmore, world champion, trainer, promoter
AZ – Noel Fernandez, official
TX – Tim Ford, official
FL – Barry Harrell, magazine reporter
CA – Howard Hanson, WKA president & founder, promoter
CA – Hap Holloway, manager, trainer
OH – Roger Hurd, competitor, official
WA – Kirk Jensen, manager, trainer, official
CA – Bernie Krasnoo, manager, trainer
NC – Bill McDonald, manager, trainer
NC – John Ormsby, manager, promoter, official
NM – Bill Packer, manager, trainer
NY – Alan Paul, magazine editor (Official Karate, American Karate)
FL – Charles “Chip” Post, Promoter
CA – Don Quine, PKA president, manager, promoter
TX – Hilary Sandoval, promoter, manager, trainer
FL – Mike Sawyer, ISKA president, promoter
FL – Steve Shepherd, world champion, promoter
CA – Tom Schlesinger, referee
CA – Stuart Sobel, manager, magazine reporter
PR – Victor Solier, world champion, official
CA – Ruben Urquidez, manager, promoter
WV – Steve Varner, official
FL, CA – Cheryl Wheeler, world champion
TX – Andy White, competitor, official
CA – Curtis Wong, magazine publisher (Inside Kung-Fu, KICK Illustrated)
NY – Al Weiss, magazine editor, publisher (Official Karate, American Karate)
OH – Jay T. Will, referee
FL, CA – Don Wilson, world champion
FL – James Wilson, manager, promoter