> USA karate story : Chuck Norris - Joe Lewis - Bill Wallace: 1974: Berlin. European professional karate debuts and not the full-contact.

samedi 5 avril 2008

1974: Berlin. European professional karate debuts and not the full-contact.

Introduction :

On May 17th 1974, at the Deutschlandhalle 8, in West Berlin, a Karate all styles European tournament is organized, with 200 participants. In the press, it is advertised as "The First European Professional Karate Championships" and is open to all black belts, whatever their style.

This tournament is organized by Georg Brückner, head of the Karate Institut in Berlin. The advertising state that a seminar also take place on May 18th 1974, with the American fighters. Mike Anderson, head of the newspaper "Professional Karate", was in charge of the production of the event and hired the US fighters. The two aforementioned worked together in Germany during the 1960's, practicing Taekwondo, among others.

Poster of the championships

On the poster, the match-maker announces the all-styles karate European Championships, only open to black belts, with four weight categories. A team tournament is also mentioned, between the United States and Europe. No details are given about the rules of the fights and the protections used. The term "professional" is not used.

Special message :

If you have any information about this tournament, please send them to me (articles, photos, results). Thank you.

During the evening, several demonstrations were presented by Byong Yu, Hidy Ochiai and Al Dacascos, who will also be on the agenda of the September 14, 1974, in Los Angeles. The same goes for Jim Harrison and Takayuki Mikami, as referees, and the widow of Bruce Lee, as a special guest.

The tournament between Europeans :

Our sources are the "Professional Karate Magazine" issues of summer 1974 and winter 1975, the "Black Belt" dec 1974, and this version WAKO story. [1].

The fights occurred in 4 categories. The combatants have no protections and the fights take place with contact, but no KO authorized. The winners win $ 400 of the time and are invited to Los Angeles. 7,000 spectators are present.

Bernd Grothe vs Wolfgang Holtkemper

Bernd Grothe, right, vs Wolfgang Holtkemper

The finals results of this first European tournament, sometimes also called the European Championships are as follows :

Lightweights : Frank Knittel/Germany beats ?
Middleweights : Bernd Grothe/Germany beats Wolfgang Holtkemper/Germany
Light heavyweights : Budimir Vejnovic/Germany or Yugoslavia beats Harald Schrader/Germany
Heavyweights : Frank Brodar/Germany or Yugoslavia beats Ivan Oliviari/Netherlands.

We know that Bernd Grothe, 23 years old, is policeman in Berlin. Budimir Vejnovic owns a casino. He will be stabbed a few weeks thereafter, but may participate to the World Championships in Los Angeles. Brodar Frank is 25 years old, measuring 5'11 'and weighs 195 lbs.

Fights against the selection of USA :

Bill Wallace vs Bernd Grothe
Bill Wallace against Bernd Grothe.

Some European fighters are opposed on the same day to a selection of Americans, fights on points. American fighters wear Jhoon Rhee protections, while the Europeans are not so equipped. On iconography, it is easy to recognize pictures of the fights, the Americans are with Gi dressed, in the colours of the USA, while the Europeans are in white.

Howard Jackson vs Frank Knittel

Howard Jackson vs Frank Knittel
And not Howard Johnson in Los Angeles - as mentioned.

The results are as follows :

Lightweights : Howard Jackson beats by Frank Knittel 4 / 0
Middleweights : Bill Wallace beats Bernd Grothe, 5 / 0.
Light heavyweights : Jeff Smith def Harald Schrader, 5 / 0
Heavyweights : Joe Lewis def Budimir Vejnovic, 5/0Par 5 / 0
Heavyweights : Jim Butin beats Ivan Oliviari, the replacement of European heavyweight champion , Franc Brodar, wounded in a hand.

USA vs. Netherlands :

According to the newspapers cited above, the US team also travels to the Netherlands, at a meeting organised by Jan Stoker, of Den Hague. The fights take place without protections. Bill Wallace is back in the USA and Al Dacascos fights at his place.

The USA beat first a Taekwondo Dutch team, 25 / 0. According to the excellent book written by Willem Brunekreef, "The Golden Kyokushin and K-1 Encyclopedia, these fights were held in Rotterdam. The Americans were invited by the organizer Jan Willem Stoker. The Dutch team was with Jan Koster, Cees Janse, Ivan Olivari, Erwin Gijsbertha and Louis Fortes.

The Americans also beat a Dutch Kyokushinkai team, composed of fighters with a lower rank than the black belt. It was from the school of Peter Stolp. It was suggested to the Dutchmen to let fight black belts of their school, but Peter or Ronald Kredijt, Kyokushinkai team leader, reportedly replied that the Americans were no fighters and that the black belts were too strong for them. Brunekreef mentions that was vs the Koykushikai team that the US team won 25-1.

After various verbal exchanges, Peter Kredijt accepts a challenge from Jeff Smith

Kredijt is sent three times to the canvas, and is KO.

Thank you very much to Mike Anderson, for the information he has provided to us.

Where are they now ?

Apart from the fights disputed in Los Angeles, we did not find any trace of the European fighters.

Jim Butin is not selected for the World Championships. On his site, it is mentioned that he won the bronze medal at the first World Championship of Taekwondo in Seoul/Korea, in 1973. This assertion is not confirmed on the site of the World Taekwondo Federation, which cites Joe Hayes and Mike Warren as medallists for the USA. However, the team from the USA, in which Jim Butin is part, won the silver medal.

Jim Butin meets, and sometimes beats, the most famous fighters of the era, like Chuck Norris, Bill Wallace and Joe Lewis. In 1975, he loses to Jeff Smith, by tko in the 5th round, for the PKA title of the light heavyweights.

Georg Brückner, sometimes called George F. Brueckner, set up a full-contact tournament in Berlin in September 1975, with the PKA World Championship between Ramiro Guzman and Gordon Franks. This event is the subject of a separate article.
Georg Brückner
Georg Brückner, referee during a unidentified battle.

He also organizes the so-called first European Championships in Gelsenkirchen in May 1976, which select the European fighters for the US selection. These tests are the subject of an article in this blog. This "European Championship" was not recognised by any federation.

The WAKO is founded in 1977 and organized the first full-contact and light-contact European and World Championships, under the aegis of this federation.

Conclusions :

The winners of the 1974 tournament are among the European fighters selected to meet the USA team at the first full-contact World Championships, which are the subject of a separate article in this blog.

It should be noted that these fighters are Germans or Yugoslavs, all listed on the school's website for Brückner, as having been students of the latter [2], except Brodar. These fighters (Frank Knittel, Bernd Grothe and Budemir Veymovic "Yejnovic, Vejnovic?") are not listed on the excellent website of the German Karate [3], as having been Germany champions.

We found no video of this first European tournament. He was reportedly filmed by a television from Europe and the American Armed Forces Network.

[1] Wako Story at this address : http://www.tungeheuer.de/index.php?id=21

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