El Campo resident Beverly Pratka won the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) Tournament in Nashville, Tennessee in late February.
Pratka, in her debut as a kickboxer, won her 132-pound weight class, consisting of five fighters. Of the fighters at the tournament, Pratka was one of the least experienced, she said.
“I had no idea what to expect from it,” Pratka said. “As much as I was pumping myself up, I was trying to be realistic because I have never done this before. (Overall), it was good and all my opponents were really great. It was a lot of fun. A lot of nerves and stress in the middle, but it was very worth it.”
She has been practicing Jeet Kune Do, a form of martial art since graduating from Louise High School in the mid-2000s. However, the jaunt into kickboxing is new.
At the tournament, in her division, Pratka was not one of the three girls who received a first-round bye.
Pratka won her first two fights to advance to the finals the next day, both by unanimous decision. On the final day of the tournament, it was a closer bout, she picked up another win on a split decision, to the lightweight division.
Going into her final fight, she had to re-weigh to make the gold medal bout official.
After cutting to make weight for her first fights, Pratka had to maintain her weight for the championship fight. Even still, on the day of her final fight she had to cut a couple of pounds, she said.
To get ready for fights, Pratka warms up with her husband and cornerman Clay Pratka and preps 30-minutes out. However, with fighters not making weight, right before she was about to start getting ready for her fight, the tournament organizers told her she was up next.
Going into the fight without loosening up and hungry, she was able to grab the win.
In each fight at the tournament, they had three two-minute rounds separated with a minute break. Unlike her many years as a martial artist, the goal was not to technically win a point and then separate and reset. Pratka was able to go full contact throwing punches, kicks trying to get a knockout.
“The coolest thing was is that they allowed you to go as hard as you wanted to,” Pratka said. “They weren’t trying to stop the amount of aggression that was happening. They were judging and giving points on thecnique and landing strikes rather than someone coming forward and being blindly aggressive.”
With a solid debut under her belt, the plan is to continue with kickboxing and see where it leads. Up next for Pratka is the WAKO World Championship which currently does not have a date scheduled.