New karate league launches ahead of Olympic debut

A new professional combat sports league has been launched today (Monday), seeking to take the martial art of karate into the future.

Formed by US company Karate Combat, the self-titled league claims to have signed over 100 top athletes from 30 countries, including Elhadji Ndour of the USA, Achraf Ouchen of Morocco, Dionicio Gustavo of Dominican Republic, Davy Dona of France, George Tzanos of Greece and Rafael Aghayev (pictured) of Azerbaijan.

Karate Combat: Genesis, the company’s pre-season event, took place in Budapest, Hungary in February. The first main event, Karate Combat: Inception, will be in the US city of Miami Beach on April 26, followed by an all USA vs. Iran fight card in May in Dubai. Karate Combat added that further events are scheduled for this year in Athens, Las Vegas, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

The Japanese capital will be the scene as karate makes its debut appearance at a summer Olympic Games in 2020. In August 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that karate, along with baseball/softball, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing would be added to the programme for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Karate Combat said the new league will be optimised for digital and mobile consumption, adding it will be the first ever to display biometric, nutrition, training, and DNA-based data in real-time via its custom interactive heads-up display.

Michael DePietro, chief executive of Karate Combat, said: “Karate is back. Approximately 50 million Americans have participated in karate at some point in their lives with an even greater worldwide following, yet no professional league exists.”

Karate.com will serve as the main gateway for event distribution through Karate Combat's wholly owned and operated platforms including its mobile apps. Events and content will also be available via multiple digital, television and OTT outlets around the globe including the global FITE app, YouTube, Twitch, The Fight Network, Facebook, Rumble, Titan Channel and Dailymotion.