The Bahamas will play host to the 4th Annual Pan American United Karate Organization (PUKO) Championships at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, which is set to begin today and wraps up tomorrow, June 15.
The announcement was made yesterday at a press conference by the Bahamas Karate Association (BKA) and PUKO at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
There will be no action today but there will be technical seminars, international referee courses and three different karate style seminars – Kyoshin Kai, Shotakan and Shito Ryu.
Tomorrow’s action will begin at 9 a.m. and wrap up at 1 p.m. The Bahamas is expected to see 10 karate schools in action. Apart from The Bahamas, four other countries will be here to participate.
The athletes in action will be as young as four and go all the way up to adults.
Julian Rolle, president of BKA and vice-president of PUKO, said they are looking to build karate in the Caribbean and South America and also have their eyes on hosting the World Karate Championship in The Bahamas one day.
“PUKO and The Bahamas are looking at growth. Right now, we have 17 countries and we are looking to increase that. We are trying to get most of the Caribbean and South American countries and we are looking at having the big initial championship hopefully to initiate the World Championship underneath our other organization – the World United Karate Organization. We are looking at the World United Karate Organization and we are roughly about 10 million strong. We are looking at hopefully getting that World Karate Championship here in The Bahamas one of these years,” Rolle said.
Leonardo Dean, from the Ministry of Tourism’s Sports Department, said that the ministry is happy to be a part of ventures like this.
“We welcome this championship to The Bahamas. It is always a privilege for us at the Ministry of Tourism to be part of ventures such as this for the mere fact that we are always trying to listen and invite different types of sports to The Bahamas. We have the weather, the venue, natural talent of athletes and the team that can facilitate different types of sports here in The Bahamas,” Dean said.
Dean said they are looking forward to this edition being a success and next year being a bigger success.
Quinton Brennen, general manager of the National Sports Authority, said that he and his team are here to move this event to be one that is the envy of The Caribbean and they are also looking forward to hosting the World Karate Championships one day in The Bahamas.
Joseph Boca, administrator for PUKO, said they are very encouraged by Rolle and The Bahamas.
“What we have seen here has been very encouraging. This has been so much so that with the influence that we have had over the period, we saw it fit to encourage the next important tournament which would be here. Because of the work that Rolle has been doing, we see positive growth in this area with regards to that and we are very encouraged by that,” Boca said.
According to Darryl Williams, Pan American advisor, The Bahamas will also host the fifth edition of the tournament in May 2020.
“We are happy that The Bahamas is hosting the fourth annual tournament. We are looking forward to 2020 to a much bigger event in The Bahamas. Countries in Europe and Africa have already indicated that they want to come to the tournament next year,” Williams said.
PUKO was formed in 1976 to help karate in the Pan American region to develop in all areas of technical skills.
The admission for adults is $12, children $7 and children under five are allowed free.
The referee course is $60 and $25 for each style.