Our Federation was formed in 1970 and our first National team participated in the inaugural World Karate Championships which was held in Japan in that year. From a modest membership in those early years we have constantly grown to our current financial membership of 123 affiliated styles.
In its very early formative years, the Australian Karate Federation Inc. was led by Don Cameron M.P. as President. Don was a marvellous asset in those early years functioning as Team Leader for the first two National Teams and opening many essential doors vital to our development. He was subsequently replaced by John Newman M.P. John Newman contributed an enormous amount of constructive work for our Federation and established much of the stable foundation we currently enjoy. He was replaced by our late President, John Halpin, from 1993 – 2007. Numerous personnel synergized positively throughout the years in the administrative, coaching and refereeing areas to create our current successful Federation. Michael Kassis has been President since 2007.
The Australian Karate Federation Inc. is a member of the World Karate Federation (WKF) and this links us to 170 countries worldwide. Karate as such is one of the ten largest sports in the world. This membership provides us access to both Junior/Cadet and Senior World Championships. Karate currently has full IOC recognition and we eagerly look forward to being placed on the Olympic program. Our Continental Union membership is that of the Oceania Karate Federation which currently has a membership of ten countries. We have always performed extremely successfully in the Oceania Region.
Nationally, AKF Inc. has become officially represented in every State and Territory. Regional development is currently an important focus.
An integral and vital role in our growth and development has always been the funding and educational assistance provided by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC). Their guidance, financial support and leadership are gratefully and sincerely acknowledged. Our previous Sports Consultant, Mr. Bob Kershaw, was excellent in his communication with us and established a healthy rapport. Our current Sports Consultant, Ms Renee O’Callaghan, has continued that relationship. Renee offers outstanding support and guidance.
Though small in numbers when compared to many overseas countries, the indomitable Australian fighting spirit also infuses our competitors and this, coupled with some fine coaching skills, has resulted in significant international success. In Kumite, both Charlene Machin and Brian Peakall were World Champions in 1992 and Christine Ferguson (1990 and 1992) and Lourene Bevaart (1994) have been World Cup Champions. Mark Golding also won a gold medal in the World Games in 1997. Christine Ferguson, Lourene Bevaart, Robyn Choi and Mark Golding have all achieved other medal honours. In our last year of APUKO competition, a real highlight for us was when our Australian team actually beat Japan in the team final. Our female team of Lourene Bevaart, Robyn Choi and Kellie Shimmings achieved a bronze medal in the 1996 World Championships. In Kata, Sandy Starling (1982), Claire Curtis (1986) and Danielle Lamond (1994) have all achieved medal victories. Natasha Hardy achieved a silver medal in the World Games in 2005. More recently, Jessica Bratich achieved a bronze medal in the WKF World Championships in Finland in 2006.
Our competitors continue to dominate the OKF Championships and many gold medals and other medals have been won.
Our junior athletes have always performed extremely well in many World ‘Style’ Championships. In the WKF Junior and Cadet World Championships, Shaun Bell won a silver medal in Kumite (2001), in Kata Tim Jovanovic won a bronze medal (2001) and Tsuneari Yahiro won a bronze medal in Kumite (2003).
Our Referee development has been impressive. In the past Tino Ceberano, Frank Nowak, Ragnar Purje, Allan Todd, Bill Wintels and Colin Leong all achieved WKF qualification. Currently Con Kassis, Michael Kassis, Nghia Tran, Dion Panossian, Janette Lynch, Glenn Goodwin, Jon Rawlings, Tony Smith, Dominic Sculli and Rosanna Kassis all have WKF qualifications and Con is currently a member of the WKF Referee Commission. Numerous referees and judges have OKF qualifications. The Chairman of the WKF Referee Council, Mr. Tommy Morris, has been brought to our country many times for educative purposes.
In the international administrative area we have performed with distinction. John Newman was the previous OKF President and member of the WKF Directing Committee. Our late President, John Halpin, held these positions as well as being WKF Treasurer. Our previous National Treasurer, Arch Brown, is also OKF Treasurer. Brian Peakall is the OKF representative on the WKF Athletes Commission and subsequently appointed Chairman of the WKF Athletes Commission. These appointments contribute significantly to our international prestige.
Numerous National coaches over the years have contributed to our competitive performance. They are as follows: Tamio Tsuji, Brian Mackie, Richard Bradford, Alan Murdoch, Branco Bratich, Elizabeth Mahler, Bruce Hyland, Tony Hails, Sal Ebanez and Morgan Abouzeid. Able assistance was provided by numerous assistant national coaches.
A key influence in our coaching/athlete development was the tactical brilliance of Mr. Antonio Oliva. His influence on our Federation has been extremely positive and he was the catalyst leading to our international successes. Ticky Donovan, Jean Marc Schedel, Junior Lefevre and Ioannis Kanellis have also made positive contributions to our development.
The National Executive has embarked on a revised Coaching/Athlete Development Plan. Significant progress has been achieved in the development of this plan and it is now fully operational. It should considerably enhance talent identification, skill acquisition, specific fitness (both mental and physical) and tactical insight. Constant monitoring and evaluation should produce the success for which we are aiming.
The National Executive continues to ensure our Core Values of Excellence, Ethics and Equity underpin all our decision making as we work diligently for the benefit of all stakeholders.