The aim of this article is to discover the history of the first World Championships organized by the WAKO. Unfortunately, no video of these tournaments is available.
The WAKO is formed in 1977 and its history is mentioned in the article of this blog (PKA, WAKO, WKA and other associations) devoted to the various federations. In 1976, Georg Bruckner organizes an European Championship, recognized by any federation, in Gelsenkirchen. This event is the subject of another article in this blog (Full-Contact development in Europe).
In 1977, after creating the WAKO, Georg Bruckner organizes the 1st European Championships in Vienna.
5 November 1978: 1st WAKO World Championships in West-Berlin
The competitors are coming from 18 countries.
The fights take place on a platform, without a ring. Fighters wear trousers and are torso naked, without a helmet.
The results in full-contact are :
1) Tony Palmore (USA)
2) Tom Rissman (West Germany)
3) Harold Ehmann (Austria)
1) Branko Zgaljardic (Yugoslavia)
2) Dirk Peter (West Germany)
3) Nils Hovlsrud (Norway)
1) Daryl Tyler (USA, sometimes referred as West Germany)
2) Nelson Colon (Dominican Republic)
3) Bernd Eggert (West Germany)
On 18.07.1978, Daryl Tyler loses against Bill Wallace, for the World Championship pro title, by ko in the 6th round. This shows once more the mix between professionals and amateurs at that time.
1) Peter Harbrecht (West Germany)
2) Harold Roth (USA)
3) Enric Gunning (Netherlands)
1) Omar Sahli (Norway)
2) Youssef Zenaf (France)
3) Heinz Klupp (West Germany)
1) Ivan Menes (Netherlands)
2) Chalabi Bennacef (France)
1) Jose Caballos (Dominican Republic)
2) Johnny Canabate (Switzerland)
3) Rachid Alitem (Belgium)
Fort the teams competition, the USA are first, followed by West Germany and the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands are only 4th.
In 1979, in Milan, the 2nd European Championships are organized by Ennio Falsoni.
3 and 4 November 1979, 2nd WAKO World Championships in Tampa/Florida/ USA :
These Championships are organized by Mike Anderson.
Unfortunately, we have no pictures of the full-contact competition. We know nothing about protections and ring.
The results are as follows:
1) Tony Palmore (USA)
2) Harold Ehmann (Austria)
3) Mladen Carevic (Yugoslavia)
Tony Palmore, who starts with judo, wins the USKA Grand National Championship title in traditional karate and the Sunshine State Karate Olympics in 1977. He wins the World Championships in 1978 and becomes professional. He will beat Anthony Elmore for the PKA title. In 1981, he had a record of 20 wins for 2 losses. Tony Palmore seems to have fight in wrestling, one in 1995 in Tokyo, losing against a man named Sting.
1) Flavio Galessi (Italy)
2) Branko Zgalijardic (Yugoslavia)
3) Juan Ponce (Switzerland)
3) Gary Sproule (USA)
Flavio Galessi, 2nd in the 1979 European Championships, turns pro. He beats Dominique Valera in November 1980, by tko on injury (see article about Dominique Valera in this blog).
1) Jean Marc Tonus (Switzerland)
2) Dieter Herdel (West Germany)
3) Benny Hedlund (Sweden)
3) F. Okkonowiak (Netherlands)
Jean-Marc Tonus becomes world light heavyweights pro champion in 1987, for the ISKA, vs Rob Thurman. He loses a fight against Rob Kaman, for the European title in 1984.
Dieter Herdel loses by ko in the 1st round, against Bill Wallace in 1976, in Paris. Dieter Herdel will be second at the WAKO European Championships in 1981.
1) Franz Haller (Italy)
2) Harold Roth (USA)
3) Alfred Tommei (Switzerland)
3) Branko Cikatić (Yugoslavia)
Franz Haller still wins the world title in WAKO pro in 1981, vs Alfred Tommei/Switzerland, on points. He will defend this title many times before losing it against Youssef Zenaf/France, in 1984. He loses again vs Zenaf during the rematch and will still fight for many years.
Branko Cikatić, born in 1954, will have an incredible career, from 1972 to 1999, in full-contact, K1 and MMA.
Branko Cikatić will be European Champion in 1980 in London and in Dublin in 1981, his record has 156 amateur fights, for 152 wins and 4 defeats. In 1981, he becomes WAKO World Champion, in -79 kg.
1) Mack Ferdinand (West Germany)
2) Javier Reyes (Dominica)
3) Sandry Ravessoud (Switzerland)
3) Walter Parlovic (Yugoslavia)
1) Ali Pehlivan (West Germany)
2) Godfrey Butler (Great Britain)
3) Johnny Mirer (Switzerland)
3) Jimmy Barletta (Belgium)
1) Howard Brown (Great Britain)
2) Michael Kuhr (West Germany)
3) Jesus Duran (Dominica)
3) Max Mankowitz (Norway)
For the teams competition, Germany is first, before Italy and the USA.
Conclusions for the World Championships :
The organization of these two World Championships allows the amateur full-contact world to grow and gain recognition, which was at that time only for professionals.
Many fighters will become World Champion in the professional rank.
Jean-Claude Van Damme's enigma :
At the time of this Championship, Jean-Claude Van Damme is still named Jean-Claude Van Vaerenbergh.
Internet Version :
Concerning the JCVD full-contact career, the internet version is that he has a record of 10-0 before participating in the 1979 WAKO Championships in Florida. Sometimes, details are given on Van Damme's fights for these Championships :
In his first fight scheduled for 2 x 2 minutes, Jean-Claude Van Damme would have defeated Sherman Bergman/USA, before the limit, in the 1st round.
In the second match, Jean-Claude Van Damme would have beaten Gilberto Dias/Portugal (Taekwondo) in the 1st round, for injuries.
In the quarter-finals, Van Damme would have lost on points in 2 rounds, vs Patrick Teugels/Belgium.
Corrected version :
Patrick Teugels is at the WAKO World Championships in 1979, but in semi-contact. The results of his weight division are:
1) Andreas Brannasch (West Germany)
2) Teugels (Belgium)
3) Goyvaerts (Morocco)
Teugels' fights at these Championships are :
1. De Coninck Netherlands, won 4-0
2. Wilson/? Ireland, won 6-5
3. Franki Luigi/Italy won 6-4
4. Finals: Andreas Brannasch/West Germany, lost 1-2
Semi-contact or full contact :
If Teugels would have beaten Van Damme, it would have been in semi-contact, and not in full-contact.
No newspaper article mention Jean-Claude Van Damme :
In 1979, Van Damme is still Van Vaerenbergh. An article is published in the newspaper Samurai from Belgium, 25.01.1980, page 13, written in Dutch by André Le Capitaine. This article mentions the presence of the Belgian fighters for the Championships. No Van Vaerenbergh is mentioned. Address to read this article: http://www.patrickteugels.be/interviewwithpatrickteugels.php
A Van Damme is quoted in the article of Samurai, but his Christian name is Rudy (Van Damme). He fights in the -74 kg and Teugels is in the -69kg. Rudy is eliminated in his first match, against an American, still in semi-contact, by 4-6.
We had contact with Patrick Teugels, who confirmed the version on the absence of Jean-Claude Van Damme of these championships. You can read his interview on Internet at the following address: http://www.patrickteugels.be/interviewwithpatrickteugels.php
We have many other articles of the time. They all mention the presence of Rudy Van Damme and do not mention the presence of a Van Vaerenbergh.
Other fights between Teugels and Van Damme :
To be clearer, Teugels beats twice Van Damme in semi-contact before the World Championships in 1979. The first fight is in 1977, during an International Open in Belgium. The second time is in 1978, for the Belgian championships.
Van Damme will beat Teugels after the World Championships in full-contact, in another fight in Belgium, via TKO in the 1st round, following a nose injury. This fight takes place in 1980, before the pro title fight between Dan Macaruso and Dominique Valera.
Teugels standing, wounded in the nose, 1980
Conclusions for Jean-Claude Van Damme :
We can not be affirmative about the presence or absence of Jean-Claude Van Damme in the World Championships in Tampa, but we have found no pictures or video about his presence.
We have found a multitude of newspaper articles referring to the presence of the Belgian team, and none mentions a Jean-Claude Van Damme or Van Vaerenbergh.
After all, the opinion of everyone is free, as in any good democracy ...