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World Taekwondo Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Sunday, May 28, marked the 50th anniversary of World Taekwondo,

the worldwide governing body of Olympic-style taekwondo. Originally called "The World Taekwondo Federation," the organization was founded at a 1973 meeting in South Korea, in part as a counter to The International Taekwon-Do Federation, whose leader, General Choi Hong Hi, had lost favor among the Korean political establishment.

The founding of World Taekwondo coincided with the first world championship tournament, which saw fighters from South Korea win the two men's sparring divisions contested. Four fighters from the United States placed, lead by heavyweight silver medalist Mike Warren and Black Belt hall of famer Joe Hayes, who took bronze at lightweight.

World Taekwondo would go on to garner recognition from the International Olympic Committee in 1980 and become a demonstration sport at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. It became an official Olympic sport in 2000. Though it was originally founded with just 17 member nations, World Taekwondo's governing council, meeting in Azerbaijan ahead of the upcoming world championships, moved to admit Namibia as what will now be their 213th member nation. The world championships are slated to run from May 29-June 6 featuring eight men's and eight women's sparring divisions.

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