WAKO-PRO: a brief history

by Ennio Falsoni ( WAKO-PRO President and Founder)

WAKO-PRO was officially established in 1991 during a WAKO Board meeting held in Spain during our WAKO European Championships, with the precise purpose of putting an end to the loss of our best fighters who, after a brilliant career as amateur fighters in our organization, were finding it possible to continue as professional fighters in other, so called “international kickboxing bodies”, which started using them against us like “a gift from heaven”.

For years I had tried my best to convince Mr. Georg Bruckner, founder of WAKO, to open a “pro” section in our organization to avoid such unnecessary “generosity”.
It takes a minimum of 5 years to shape a good fighter and 6 or 7 to have a star. They are the best representatives of any organization. By promoting galas featuring them, we could approach the media in general to attract their interest in our new sport. But it was all in vain.

In 1988, together with some friends, I had created IKL (International Kickboxing League) as a separate body linked to WAKO. But immediately after Georg Bruckner passed away I thought it was time to go back to the original idea – the creation of WAKO-PRO within WAKO itself, where we could place our best fighters so as to generate more activity, more exposure, more credibility. But before doing that, I had gone through a couple of vital experiences.

Actually, in the early ‘80s, before creating IKL, I had tried to reach an agreement with Mr. Joe Corley who at that time was the chairman of PKA (Professional Karate Association) in the USA.

To make a long story short, I simply wanted to sign an official agreement so that PKA could be the professional body of WAKO. The two organizations had to be linked on an exclusive basis and control the development of our sport worldwide.
Mr. Corley refused.
A few years later, again, I tried to find an agreement with WKA, which in Europe was headed by Mr. Fred Royers. Following our example, WKA had also started amateur activities, but since they were mainly strong in low-kick or Thai-boxing, I definitely wanted them to run only that aspect of kickboxing and have nothing to do with semi, light or full contact.
Again Mr. Royers did not find my proposal suitable for him, so I was obliged to do what I had really wanted to do from the very beginning: establish within WAKO new kickboxing styles in the ring called “Low-Kick” and “Thai-boxing” and in recent times, “K1 Rules”.

The two above-mentioned experiences were fundamental for the future development of WAKO-PRO. Through WAKO I had put together a fantastic system that could truly satisfy anyone’s requirements. WAKO-PRO soon became the “professional window” for all WAKO styles.

WAKO-PRO activity started slowly in Europe and the USA in the ‘90s.
The very first criteria I used in building our rankings was to consider the official results in WAKO World and European Championships only.
I started creating international WAKO-PRO rankings inserting the very best 4 fighters in World and European Championships in the weight classes of the various WAKO styles.
They were (and are) “la crème de la crème” of kickboxing in the world, a guarantee of excellence for any promoter. Their outstanding technique and quality of performance provides the certainty of a good show.
This means credibility for the newborn organization, credibility that is growing day by day all over the world.

WAKO and WAKO-PRO were the two sides of the same coin until IAKSA came into the picture.
The merger with IAKSA, one of several international bodies competing with WAKO for GAISF’s official recognition, was a “condition sine qua non” to reach that goal. After WAKO incorporated IAKSA, officially on September 26, 2006 in Zadar (Croatia) during an extraordinary general assembly held at the World Cadet and Junior Championships, WAKO-PRO was officially separated from WAKO. From that date on, WAKO-PRO is independent from WAKO from a legal and administrative point of view, but is still linked to WAKO by an exclusive agreement.

WAKO-PRO gives priority to all WAKO national federations to represent WAKO-PRO on an exclusive base. Logically, wherever the different national organizations are not interested in “pro” activity, WAKO-PRO will choose its own representatives freely.

In the meantime, WAKO-PRO has created solid standard rules to guarantee both promoters and fighters the respect of their different rights and interests.

WAKO-PRO is today granting a better future and extra international activity to the best WAKO competitors.

WAKO-PRO guarantees them fair decisions in their title bouts and better treatment in general.

WAKO-PRO stresses loyalty, fairness and integrity as the highest moral principles in its activity, which is in the best interests of kickboxing and its champions.

WAKO-PRO protects the health and well being of kickboxers, having adopted the WADA Code.   WAKO-PRO is strongly against drugs and is for fair play in sports.

WAKO-PRO is against discrimination on the basis of race, nationality, and religion.

WAKO-PRO acts in the interests of kickboxer, guaranteeing them fair payment, equal treatment and respect of their rights.