An Olympic kickboxing training center is coming to El Campo.
His soon-to-be 13,000 square foot gym, gained recognition from the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) as a new training center for Team USA, Clay Pratka announced at the Rotary Club of El Campo meeting Wednesday.
Pratka is the husband and coach of El Campo Team USA kickboxer Beverly Pratka. Their new Warrior University gym will be the only Texas training center for Team USA.
“The leadership of the organization seemed very family-oriented and they wanted people who were going to get behind (kickboxing) and make this push to try and bring kickboxing out to the forefront, we had the same goals and the same ambition,” Clay told the newspaper.
In total, Clay believes there are nine to 10 coaches/gyms with the recognition as training centers for Team USA.
While new to kickboxing, the Pratkas have jumped in with both feet. Beverly turned heads earlier this year in her debut kickboxing matches winning the 132-pound weight class at the WAKO Tournament in Nashville, Tenn.
In May, she earned an invitation to compete on Team USA and will represent the United States in Jesolo, Italy, at the Senior World Championships Oct. 14-24.
“It’s all been kind of a whirlwind to this point, but to have our hometown, tiny little El Campo, at the center of all it is crazy,” Beverly said.
The Pratkas have moved from their 2,000 square-foot foot space to a building with 3,500 square feet on North Mechanic between Avenue C and Franke Street, while they wait for some modifications to their final home, a 13,000 square-foot mega space, where David’s Food Basket was before it shut down in 2004.
“In martial arts standards, that’s starting to get into the big boy leagues,” Clay said.
David’s Food Basket was 31,000-square feet, but was split into three sections.
When the new space is complete, the Pratkas will be able to host Team USA events with the addition of a regular size kickboxing ring.
“This town is now a part of Olympic history, so that’s huge for everyone to be a part of that,” Beverly said.
“This is home and this is where we want to make it work,” Clay said.
For potential Team USA hopefuls in Texas, Warrior University will be the closest place to come and train.
Kickboxing was not a part of the Japan 2021 Olympics held recently.
However, during the International Olympic Committee meeting held in Japan in July, they accepted WAKO’s application to be fully recognized.
While the Pratkas are both involved with Team USA, the roots of their original Jeet Kune Do gym will still be a part of the new space along with health and fitness classes and an after-school program, according to Clay.
The Pratkas currently teach between 100-120 students.