Countdown for the K1 event at Stitch Club on June 28th

Monday, June 20, 2011, 8:00

The World Kickboxing Network (WKN) is a professional K1, Kickboxing Thai boxing, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Boxing organization and is one of the largest professional sanctioning organizations in the world, represented in more than 100 countries. WKN was created in late 1994 as a subsidiary of International Sport Karate Association (ISKA) to capture new markets, as ISKA’s operations were concentrated in the North American market. But the predominantly American administration of ISKA considered WKN as a threat to its authority and the two organizations fully split in late 1998 and ever since WKN runs as a fully independent fight sport organization.

In 2007 – the ‘World Kickboxing Network’ (WKN) one of the largest Martial Arts sanctioning bodies in the world was introduced to the Maltese Islands, through Kancho Adrian Axisa, a Spirit Combat expert.

Master Noel was the first in Malta to join the WKN family. This was a decision that was to reap benefits for his club in the years to come.

Malta’s baptism of fire under the WKN banner came in 2007 in Torino, Italy, when Reuben Azzopardi became the first Maltese to fight in a K1 competition (Oriental rules). While Reuben was well prepared physically he obviously lacked the experience necessary to win his first fight under the K1 rules. However to his merit Reuben only lost on points.

In October of 2007 – Ying Yang’s – Daniel ‘The Jet’ Zahra  became the first Maltese to win a major title when he became WKN EUROPEAN CHAMPION – Kickboxing Rules, Amateur Light Middleweight after beating Adrien Lafaurie (France) in Malta.

Master Noel also set out to further enrich his coaching abilities and since 2007 has attended several advanced technical courses and training seminars for K1 in Italy, Cyprus, France, United Kingdom and Corsica.

Malta second experience in K1 was also in Torino, Italy. Malta’s Charles Buttigieg, was defeated on points. However the technical improvements were obvious and encouraging.

The Ying Yang, Kick boxers and K1 fighters, were to suffer a number of defeats before tasting success. In February of 2009 - Ruth Tanti lost on points in France, in 2009 Reuben Azzopardi - became the first Maltese to participate in a pro tournament in Cyprus – he lost to Christo Nikolao on points.

It was in the last quarter of 2009, that the hard work put in by the Ying Yang fighters, training under Noel Mercieca, started to bear fruit – during this period the Maltese club took no less than four major WKN kickboxing titles and one major title under the K1 rules.

Daniel ‘The Jet’ Zahra – proved himself to be flagship product of the Ying Yang Gym.

(Daniel ‘The Jet’ Zahra) WKN WORLD CHAMPION – Kickboxing Rules, Amateur Middleweight, beating Furleton (Northern Ireland) in Malta, September 2009

(Daniel ‘The Jet’ Zahra) WKN EUROPEAN CHAMPION – K1 Rules, Semi-Pro Middleweight, beating Mohamed Jama (Holland) in Malta, February 2009

(Daniel ‘The Jet’ Zahra) Defending Title – Semi-Pro Middleweight, beating Mark Bird (Northern Ireland) in Belfast, April 2010

Other members of the Ying Yang club also enjoyed a good measure of success:

Ruth Tanti - WKN WORLD CHAMPION – Kickboxing Rules, Amateur Featherweight, Nuura Mohamed Sayed Ahmed (Egypt) in Malta, September 2009

Steven Cassar - WKN WORLD CHAMPION – Kickboxing Rules, Amateur Super Middleweight, beating Kiriakos Konikkos (Cyprus) in Malta, September 2009

Kirsten Borg - WKN WORLD CHAMPION – Kickboxing Rules, Junior Amateur Light Heavyweight, beating Ali Hanedar (Belguim) in Malta, September 2009

Terence Cilia - WKN EUROPEAN CHAMPION – K1 Rules, Amateur Middleweight, beating Stuart Jess (Northern Ireland) in Malta, May 2010

Presently the Ying Yang club is home to no less than four national champions in Kickboxing: Ruth Tanti – Lightweight, Kyle Stone – Middleweight, Nicholas Ellul – Cruiserweight and Lucienne Rosso – Super heavyweight.

While there are other competent and good clubs in the Maltese Islands, Ying Yang has taken this sport to the next level. The success of this club when considering the size of Malta is astounding.

This year (2011) Daniel Zahra, the WKN World and European Amateur Champion was nominated for the Maltese, ‘Sportsman of the Year Award’ although he was not short listed for the final awards, it served as a clear indication of the publics appreciation for the efforts and achievements of this young man and his club.

Club President Isaac Chetcuti and Club Founder Master Noel Mercieca, attribute their success to the daily dedication of their members and the support of a sterling team who work behind the scenes ensuring that Ying Yang retains its position as one of the leading Martial Arts Clubs in Malta.

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