A global phenomenon was born in 1993. We should say thanks to the Japanese Kyokushin master Kazushi Ishii. In the ’70s and ’80s, the barbershop debates were circulating around the topics of “can this guy beat that guy” and “could this fella win a fight against this fighter”.
Ishii created K-1: an elimination kickboxing tournament that has been held annually since 1993 by the K-1 organization.
Each year, K-1 held various 16-men, 8-match Grand Prix style tournaments throughout the world to determine which 16 fighters will compete in the K-1 World GP.
Some of the biggest Kyokushin and kickboxing legends participated in the tournament, making a name for themselves and most importantly, paving the way for thousands of people who followed in their footsteps.
The legends Ernesto Hoost and Peter Aerts had their first fight on this event, but the big winner of the night was Branko Cikatic.
Branko was a Croatian heavyweight kickboxer, the first Croatian-born fighter to achieve international success. He won the inaugural tournament on April 30, 1993, in Japan.
Earlier this year “The Croatian Tiger” Cikatic passed away at the age of 65.