As a ravenous consumer of anything combat sports related, I am always on the lookout for the next big thing; be it an up and coming fighter with an interesting story, or a new promotion with an interesting angle. Karate Combat is bringing just that to New York City.
The first mainstream, professional full-contact karate league will host its next event, Karate Combat: One World, at the observation deck of the One World Trade Center, next Thursday, September 27th. It’s the first ever sporting event held atop the building and will set a world record for the highest sports event from ground level.
With karate slated to make its Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2020, it seems like just the right time to create a stage for the best karatekas in the world to show their stuff.
I got a chance to speak with three-time Karate World Champion Abdalla Ibrahim, who fights in the main event on Thursday night’s card, against Pan-American Champion Dionicio Gustavo. You can read the interview below, right after you check out his beautiful KO win at Karate Combat’s last event. And yes, that’s Bas Rutten manning the mic.
Hey Abdalla. Congratulations on your last fight. That was a beautiful knock out!
That fight was a little crazy. Everybody was shocked with that fight. No one knew me at the time. I was fighting with Quayhagen. He is one of the best fighters in the league.
If I recall, Bas Rutten was very impressed and said that he believes that record will stand for a while. That must be pretty cool.
Yeah, I remember him saying that.
Tell me a bit about your background in martial arts.
I started with Shotokan Karate when I was a kid. I did national tournaments for the National team of Egypt for eight years. I’ve won three world championships. I have a lot of African titles, a lot with Premier League, but the world championship is the highest event in the WKF.
In 2015 I had some conflict with the National Team in Egypt. They wanted some people to win, others to lose. Just some politics. So, I switched sports and started doing boxing. I did an amateur tournament. I started doing kickboxing. I had one fight in Asia.
At that time, I was also studying engineering. It was hard to practice and study. Engineering is not easy. But the sport is number one in my life. I used to be a big star in Egypt, but because of the conflict with the team I didn’t think I could do much in there, so I decided to come to the US.
Adham Sabry is my friend. Do you know him?
I just interviewed him this morning.
He came to the US one year before me, so I called him and told him I want to come there. I came to the United States just one year and two months ago. I wanted to come here and join the national team, or to just compete, but it was tough.
Adham called me one week before the event in Miami, and said they needed someone to fight at welterweight. I was training at the time. I was trying to get involved with anything. I told him I was down for this fight. That’s how it all started.
And now you’re the main event next Thursday night, right?
Yeah! Last season I was in the qualifiers, and now I’m the main event.
Well you deserve it. That knock out was spectacular!
What do you know about your opponent?
I just met him the last season. I know he’s from the Dominican Republic. I don’t know if he has a background in Karate. I know he’s a good fighter, but I don’t know if he’s going to be good enough to fight with me.
Where do you think you have an advantage over him?
I saw his last fight. He keeps his hand very low, and he leans back. I don’t know why he does this. In sport Karate that would be ok, because you’re only going to come in with two punches, but in full contact, no one is going to come with a combination of just two punches.
You have to make the switch to full contact. Some guys bounce around a lot. That’s not going to work in full contact, because you have to plant your foot. And its three rounds, its not just one round.
Do you have any message for Dionicio?
I just want to tell him to be ready because its not going to be easy. But good luck to him as well. In the end it’s a sport. Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win; it doesn’t matter. Just perform well.
Do you have any aspirations of coming in to MMA at some point?
Maybe. But not now. Karate is my sport and now I have a professional league and I want to stay with them for a while. I love Karate Combat. Its one of the best leagues. For full contact Karate there are no professional leagues. This is the first one. And they care about their fighters.
Do you have any sponsors you would like to thank?
I don’t have any sponsors, but I’d like to thank my family. My mom is always supporting me. That’s the most important person in my life.
Well let’s put that out there and get you some sponsorships, to help you train.
You know I’m working full time while I do Karate Combat.
Oh wow. What do you do?
I’m working as a waiter at a restaurant in midtown. You know life is expensive in New York.
That’s the American dream, no?
You’re right I am living the dream right now.
Well, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. I wish you the best of luck in your fight next Thursday.
Karate Combat: One World will stream live at Karate Combat’s site karate.com, on its Android and iOS apps and new Roku channel, along with partners UFC Fight Pass, CBS Sports Live, DailyMotion, Dr. Oz’s CombatGO, FITE, YouTube, Pluto TV, Eleven Sports, Klowd TV, The Fight Network, and more. Three million people viewed Karate Combat’s Miami and Athens events.
You can learn more about Karate Combat at Karate.com.