Steve 'Superkick' Vick
Steve Vick was one of the true pioneers of Australian kickboxing. He is best remembered for a fight that took place on the undercard of the infamous Dennis Alexio / Stan ‘The Man’ Longinidis undercard at the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Center in 1992. Vick fought Hector Pena for a world title over twelve rounds. Many believe it to have been the best kickboxing fight this country has ever seen.
Vick attained world title status two years later, becoming ISKA Super-welterweight World Champion at the age of 24. He retired immediately after, disillusioned with kickboxing’s reputation as a thug sport and moving towards a more lucrative career. He now lives in Brisbane and manages a large investment-banking firm. Long before Muay Thai became the dominant code Vick showcased a style that was a combination of super-flashy Tae Kwon Do kicks and sophisticated boxing skills. ‘John’ Wayne Parr was so impressed, he originally dubbed himself ‘Wonderkick’ Wayne Parr!
Vick’s legacy is not forgotten. After some of his fights were uploaded to Youtube, one Sherdog blogger wrote, “Anyone that goes into the ring sporting the full-blown mullet, gold-sequined shorts and kicks that much ass deserves to be well-known.”
How did you come to martial arts?
I was always a fan of Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee as a kid, but when I was thirteen my Mum said, “I saw a Taekwondo demonstration at the shopping centre today, would you be interested in doing something like that?” I replied, “Hell yeah! I didn’t think you’d let me do anything like that.” I’d had my fair share of schoolyard conflicts, so I was quite surprised that my parents would allow me to learn how to fight. As it turned out, it was probably the best decision they made for me as a child.
How did you go from there to Kickboxing?
It was a natural progression… Within one month of starting Taekwondo I had decided that this was my ticket; this was what I wanted to do with my life, I wanted to be a professional fighter. I began competing in Taekwondo tournaments. At some stage I saw a Professional Karate Association (PKA) video, which was the first popular form of modern-day kickboxing that I had seen. After watching Jean-Yves Theriault and Jerry “Golden Boy” Trimble fight on this video (again and again), I decided that this form of fighting was definitely for me. So, after 5 years of the National TKD circuit I had my first Kickboxing bout. I think that was in 1987.
How popular was Thai boxing when you were kickboxing?
When I first started Kickboxing, it was rarely seen in Australia. We knew it was popular in Thailand and there were the occasional events promoted with Thai rules in Australia, but they didn’t allow elbows back then. However, Thai boxing was starting to gain real momentum in Australia towards the end of my career.
Did you find your particular style unique at that time?
I didn’t really think so because the rules when I started were above waist kicks only and an eight kick per-round minimum requirement. It was clear [however] that most kickboxers were relatively good boxers and very few TKD practitioners had made the transition to ring fighting successfully. I always wanted to be a cross between Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali but I had to make a lot of adjustments to my TKD style to make it work in a boxing ring, particularly once leg kicks were introduced. My TKD instructor had given me a strong appreciation for the technical aspects of human movement, which forced me to constantly analyse the nuances of what worked and what didn’t work.
How many fights did you have?
I think my record was 32 TKD fights for 30 wins, 25 Semi contact fights for 24 wins, and 31 Kickboxing fights for 26 wins. I’m not sure if the amount of fights is exactly right but unfortunately, I definitely remember the losses. I would like to have had more kickboxing fights, however, it was really tough getting fights back then.
Did you end up fighting for a world title?
Yes, I fought for the Welterweight title against Hector Pena in 1992, but lost on points. [I] eventually got a second chance in 1994 against Chinto Mordillo for the Super-welterweight world title, which I won via another points decision over 12 rounds.
What happened after you won?
I retired from kickboxing the night I won the world title and took a job in the finance industry. I eventually completed a diploma of financial services and a bachelor of business, majoring in finance and accounting, and am now a director/partner in a financial advisory firm. I really haven’t had anything to do with the sport since I retired.
Can you tell us about the fight with Hector Pena? Many consider it to be the best fight Australia has seen.
It was one of those fights that pushed me to my limit and consequently brought out the best in me. I gave Hector everything I had that night, but he was just too good. Hector had it all… the boxing skills, the kicking skills, the combinations, the endurance, the determination, and a little too much experience for me. All respect to him and his coach Rubin Urquidez, they were a formidable team. I had quite a few tough bouts over the years but there was only one other that I thought pushed me to my limit that was on par with the Hector fight. That was the first bout I had with Alex Tui, which was a ten-rounder and my first leg kick fight. Alex won on points and left me on crutches for weeks. Unfortunately I don’t have that video, but it still gets brought up in the occasional nostalgic kickboxer re-union banter.
How do you feel about Muay Thai becoming the dominant mode of kickboxing?
I have great respect for all fight codes and can obviously appreciate the dedication required to master any of them. Personally, my favorite combat sport format is K1. I love watching those shows and would probably go to see more fights if the format experienced great[er] success here in Australia. I fought on Mr Ishii’s ‘Japanese Open’ tournament in 1992 as the semi-main event, which was considered the first ever K1, but I would have loved the opportunity to compete in the K1 Max.
Do you still have the gold sequined shorts?
Ha. Yes, but I get a bit concerned when grown men ask me that question, Jarrod.