While one martial arts organisation was being established in America in 1993, across the water in Tokyo, Japan - the birth of another would give rise to the greatest era of kickboxing the world had ever seen. K-1 was an organisation that gave a platform to a who's who of kickboxing, karate, muay thai and other stand-up disciplines.
Its biggest event of the year was the K-1 World Grand Prix, which pitted the best fighters in the world against each other in a knockout style tournament. Its winners would capture the admiration and respect of the Japanese fans, giving them celebrity-level attention they had never seen before. During the 90's, K-1 was huge - once packing over 74,000 people into Tokyo Dome for the K-1 World Grand Prix 2002 final.
Its first Grand Prix took place on April 30th, 1993. In front of a crowd of 12,000 people - it featured kickboxing legends Ernesto Hoost and Peter Aerts, along with many other notables like tough karateka Masaaki Satake, Todd Hays from Rickson Gracie's documentary "Choke", Croatian hard man - Branko Cikatic, future UFC HW champion - Maurice Smith, a talented but undersized thai-boxer - Changpuek Kiatsongrit and Japanese karateka - Toshiyuki Atokawa.