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Hungry for Hungary: WAKO USA Kickboxing Training Camp Showcases America's Top Talent

Black Belt Plus

The USA National Kickboxing Team hosted their elite training camp for athletes slated to compete at the Junior World Championships in Budapest, Hungary this August.  Training camp was held June 29-30th in Clearwater, Florida at American Mixed Martial Arts.

Competitors from across the nation assembled for two days of conditioning, mental focus, and training with the national USA Kickboxing coaching staff.  David Bybee, a 3x World Kickboxing Champion and Director of Coaches hosted the event. 

Tatami Head Coach El Java Abdul-Qadir, along with Dawn Roffey, Chris Walker, Bill Viola Jr., and Damian Rodriguez set out a strategic plan to prepare the squad of 60 hopefuls as they prepare for the Olympic-style competition.   The staff brought in the current WAKO World Champions to help lead the sessions, including Bailey Murphy, arguably the pound-for-pound best point fighter in the world. 

He shared experience and drills that helped him climb the top of the sparring ladder, while his WAKO USA Teammate, Tyreeke Saint, offered his competitive outlook and training tips. From a female perspective, World Champion Ki’Tana Evereett was on hand to inspire the next generation of female fighters.

According to Bill Viola Jr (WAKO USA Tatami Chairman) “A great deal of credit needs to be given to El Java [Abdul-Qadir].  He is such a passionate coach and was the backbone of our camp.  USA is in good hands under his direction.”      

The team is in contention for WAKO (World Association of Kickboxing Organizations) Junior World Championships titles.  The championships will be held in Budapest, Hungary August 23-September 1st at BOK Sports Hall.

Viola Jr. says,  “This is the largest junior team the United States has sent to a WAKO World Championship, and we are confident that our superstars like Bailey and Ty are giving them an edge. The energy on the tatami and motivation was contagious all weekend. To win at the next level, fighter IQ plays a huge role. 

Ty and Bailey are two of the best in the business, so our team was in good hands.”  Viola’s daughter, Gabby, is representing USA as an older cadet (13-15 years old) category and explains, “I loved the camp because I got to fight the older female competitors and they pushed me to be my best.” Viola Jr. continues, “Besides our junior athletes like Gabby headed to Budapest, we are sending senior athletes to Chile [Vina del Mar] in October.

Tatami champions from Chile will earn a slot in the prestigious World Games in Chengdu, China [August 2025]. We are truly making a mark around the world. We are the Olympic movement for Kickboxing in the United States. If you want to compete at the highest level of professionalism for sport karate, WAKO USA is leading the charge.” 

USA Kickboxing is the only U.S. organization in the sport of kickboxing to have IOC (International Olympic Committee) & AOC (American Olympic Committee) recognition. The athletes compete at the highest of levels, qualifying in our National Championship Tournaments to earn their spots on the team to compete internationally at the Pan-American Championships, World Games and the World Combat Games.

WAKO USA serves as the gateway to the Olympics. The World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) is the National Governing Body for the sport under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee.  Bill Viola Jr. continues, “The current junior team will be at the perfect age for a potential Kickboxing debut at the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane, Australia. We are a recognized Olympic sport; we just need to gain medal status.  Fingers crossed, we hope to get voted in for Australia.” 


WAKO league alternates with Junior and Senior World Championships every other year.  In 2023 The 2023 Senior Worlds was represented with 70 countries and 1,670 athletes.  The United States sent 49 entries and 23 coaches 13 medals, 5 being gold. 

In 2025, the Adult Team members set sight on Abu Dhabi.  Viola adds, “We are a non-profit entity and not subsidized by the USA; that is a heavy financial burden.  Other countries fund their athletes to compete, so we are looking for new partnerships and sponsors to continue sending the best America has to offer on a global scale.

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