The emergence of kickboxing as a combat sport took place between the 1950s and 1970s. During the Korean War, American soldiers stationed in Japan were introduced to karate and brought it to America. Karate later spread to Europe. The rules of traditional karate do not allow full force blows (full contact), as they must be performed with control (semi contact), and knockout is prohibited. This style of play does not satisfy most athletes and is not attractive to spectators. This requires changes to the rules by appearing “full contact karate” or “Karate knockout”. In the 1970s, the first contact karate competitions were organized in the United States and Europe. The best competitors are Bill (The super foot) Wallace – 23 wins, of which 13 by knockout, Benny (The jet) Urkidez – 49 wins (35 by knockout), and Don (The dragon) Wilson – 11 times world champion, with 47 knockouts, all of whom have made careers in film and television after the end of their sports competition. Chuck Norris is a six-time world champion, named “Fighter of the Year” in 1969. “Black Belt Magazine”, and his rich film biography, which began from 1968 to the present, includes over 40 titles.

In 1974, the first professional federation called the Professional Karate Association (PKA) was established. In 1976, the World Kickboxing Association (WKA) was founded and the World All Stiles Karate Organization (WAKO), the World Amateur Karate Organization. WAKO is the only international amateur organization that conducts European and World Championships at the level of national federations. Later, while retaining the abbreviation, WAKO was renamed the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations. In 1985, after the collapse of PKA, the International Sport Karate Association (ISKA) was formed, the international kickboxing association that organizes the holding of European and World Championships for professionals.

After the initial superiority of American fighters, in the 1970s and 1980s there was a total dominance of European kickboxers. In the 1990s, Japan’s most spectacular professional kickboxing chain, the K-1 World Grand Prix, was organized in Japan, with reunions watched by millions of TV viewers around the world and cash prizes for competitors amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. From 1993 to 2013, the finals were held 14 times in Tokyo, four times in Yokohama and only once outside Japan in Zagreb, Croatia. In Asia and the United States, the K-1 World Series is broadcast on pay per view, and in Europe on Eurosport. The most popular names are those of the Dutch competitors: Ernesto Huust and Semi Schilt – four-time champions, Peter Aerts and Remy Boniaski – three-time champions. Apart from the Dutch fighters, only two Croats – Branko Tsicatic (1993) and Mirko Filipovic (2012), as well as one Swiss – Andy Hug (1996) were winners of the most commercial competition. Since its inception in 1993, the K-1 has only been won once by a competitor outside Europe – in 2001 by New Zealander Mark Hunt.

After the K-1 in Europe and the Balkans, the most popular are the professional leagues “Glory world series” (Dutch), “Superkombat World Grand Prix” (Romanian) and “King of kings” (Moldovan, analogous to the American “King of the Ring”). Competitions in these World Series are held in the format and according to the rules of “K-1”. The most famous names that have proven themselves many times in the European and world rings are: Catalin Moroshanu, brothers Andrei and Bogdan Stoyka (Romania), Mike Zambidis (Greece), Sergei Lashenko (Ukraine), Sergei Masloboev (Lithuania), Anderson Silva (Brazil) and others. In Bulgaria, in addition to “Eurosport”, where there is a specialized rubric “Fight club”, extremely attractive meetings of these chains are also broadcast on sports TV channels “Ring” (similar to “Eurosport” and there is a specialized rubric “Fight Evenings”), “Diema Sport”, “Nova Sport” and others. In Bulgaria, the promotion company “Pro figth” organizes and conducts professional kickboxing gala dinners “Ultimate pro figth”, which are broadcast on “bTV Action”, and the best professional fighters from Europe and the world are invited to participate.