The name of Greece’s Nicholas Pettas speaks for itself.
Arguably one of the top undersized Kyokushin karatekas whoever managed to have a successful career in the K-1 world. The Greek had a low kick that could break your leg (and that’s not for good luck) and he knew how to use his size disadvantages to his advantages.
Pettas got involved with Kyokushin karate in Denmark and at the age of 18, he decided to leave high school in order to save up money to go to Japan and study with Masutatsu Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin himself.
At the age of twenty-one, he completed the rigorous training course to become the second non-Japanese ever to finalize the program (the first being Judd Reid). He was the last uchi-deshi of Master Oyama, who died soon after Pettas’ graduation. After his graduation of the program, he competed in several tournaments and achieved many significant titles and honors such as reaching the title in European Karate Championships and placing 5th and 3rd place in the World Championships, respectively in 1995 and 1997.
After that, he decided it’s time for K-1 and as it turned out, that was the right move. Nicholas claimed the 2001 K-1 Japan Grand Prix title, following victories over Yusuke Fujimoto, Nobu Hayashi, and Musashi.