PKA Kickboxing History

In the beginning…

Unlike traditional Oriental Martial Arts whose true origins are lost in the mists of time, there is no confusion or doubt as to the origins of modern American Sport Kickboxing.

In 1973 the former World Heavyweight champion Joe Lewis and the Senior Vice-President of Universal Studios Tom Tannenbaum conceived the idea of fully sanctioned full contact karate tournaments.

It was in 1974 when promoters Mike Anderson and Don and Judy Quine came together to form the Professional Karate Association (PKA).

September 14th, 1974 was the date of the first World Championships promoted by the PKA in Los Angeles Sports Arena, California. These first championships that were held on a matted area attracted enormous worldwide media interest and television coverage.

Some of the champions crowned at this event are now Martial Arts legends such as Joe Lewis, Jeff Smith and Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace. Already then, the term full contact karate was being replaced with what we all now recognise as American Kickboxing. Many great fighters fought through the years under the PKA with the notable inclusion of Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez. These fighters have now achieved immortality in the world of Martial Arts.

Check out below some 80’s video of Kickboxing or as it was then known ‘PKA Full Contact Karate’. Please watch through the introduction and note that this is full contact – you will NOT be doing full contact in regular PKA-Kickboxing classes:


Mike Haig, the Principal of PKA-Kickboxing in the United Kingdom, first promoted Kickboxing in England, UK within months of the inaugural 1974 American event. In fact this first British event was just as much a milestone for Kickboxing because it was the first time a roped boxing ring and boxing gloves were used.

In those early days most of the athletes came from traditional martial arts styles of Karate, Kung Fu or Taekwondo. Since then, American Kickboxing has evolved into its own unique art form and over the past few years has probably become the fastest growing Martial Art.


Here in the United Kingdom, the association ‘PKA-Kickboxing’ is very much alive and growing and still headed by our Principal Mike Haig.

We are not a sanctioning body, governing body or promotional company. We are an Association dedicated to delivering high quality kickboxing classes. Fighting within our association is semi contact and light continuous only.

Our classes teach genuine kickboxing and are designed for everyone, safety is paramount and enjoyment high. Sparring (fighting) is optional.

PKA-Kickboxing continues today to deliver its promise of promoting genuine sport Kickboxing, training individuals to the highest standard possible and to keep developing the Martial Art.