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Posted: 2006-08-18 20:21:23
In the beginning of the 80's, the yakuza scandal swept Japan and this led to the decline of the sport. The only sanctioning body somehow survived was the All-Japan Kickboxing Federation. The AJKF had agreed to promote the World Karate Association International rule bouts. This was the time some of the remaining legends fought in the long pants and footpads. Igari, Tabata, Nagae were among those. This was the time Don Wilson ( or Don Hoshino Wilson, as we call) fought James Warring and Maurice Smith. It was interesting to see the young Maurice solely relied on his taekwondo background. If my memory is correct, the Wilson/Smith fight was the last prime-time televised fight until K-1. The WKA Japan lasted only a couple of years. It soon became the Martial Arts Japan Kickboxing Federation. In the end of 1987, however, some members of the MAJKF started the 2 phase of the All-Japan Kickboxing Federation. By that time, the Japanese fighters were nothing like the golden era counterparts. They lacked experience, thus they lacked skills to face not only the Thais, but the Europeans as well. In those days, the favorites among the fans were Rob Kaman, Ronnie Green, Tom Von De Berg, Maurice Smith, and many Thai fighters.

Even though Kaman and Smith were popular, many of their fights were one-sided. This was not their fault, but the promoters'. Japanese sanctioning bodies funcion just like the PKA in the US. They like the exclusive contract. Since the AJKF was so loyal to the WKA, they did not consider bringing fighters from other sancionning bodies such as WMTA, ISKA, or KICK. Thus, Kaman ended up fighting Gabe Carmichael, Santiago Garza, and Smith fought Kevin Rosier. The fans wanted to see either Kaman or Smith face Branco Cikatic. This could have been an intesting match-up since kaman said he could claim he is the best if he could defeat Don Wilson, Cikatic, and Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn. It was quite dissapointing none of these figters fought Kaman.

One of the reasons K-1 attracted many hard-core fans (at least in the beginning) was that Ishii did not care about differences in sanctioning bodies. As a matter of fact, many gave Ishii credit for his bringing many fighters the fans wanted to see for a long time. Among those were Cikatic, Ernesto Hoost, Peter Aerts, Ivan Ivan Hippolyte, etc.

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