Continental Championships

New kings and queens of Asian Karate to be crowned in Malaysia


New kings and queens of Asian Karate to be crowned in Malaysia

The 2023 AKF Senior Championships will be held in Melaka (Malaysia) from July 21 to 23. As the event reaches the -7-day mark, we review the main rivalries to catch the attention of fans at the event.


With 2022 champion Hikaru Ono of Japan absent from the tournament, the crown in Female Kata is up for grabs. Three-time continental champion and two-time World titleholder Kiyou Shimizu of Japan heads the frontrunners to claim the throne. The Olympic Games silver medallist aims at recovering the title she took for the last time in 2019.


Also one of the big favourites to win gold, Mo Sheung Grace Lau of Hong Kong hopes to take her first title after claiming three silver medals. The Olympic Games bronze medallist who finished second last year is a two-time World Championships bronze medallist and two-time Karate 1-Premier League winner.



Defending champion Gu Shiau-Shuang of Chinese Taipei aims at keeping the continental title in Female Kumite -50kg. The list of contenders to end Gu’s domination is headed by Olympian Moldir Zhangbyrbay of Kazakhstan. The 2021 AKF champion will try to recover the crown and add a new gold to her list of honours which includes two Karate 1-Premier League victories.


Sara Bahmanyar of Iran who is the current AKF bronze medallist and a two-time Karate 1-Premier League winner completes the list of favourites in the category.



The title in Female Kumite -55kg will be open for a new champion to claim due to the absence of defending titleholder Shiori Nakamura. Current runner-up Thi My Tam Hoang of Vietnam who won the crown in 2021 and bronze medallists Fateme Saadati of Iran and Leen Mansour of Jordan are also among the candidates for gold.


Defending champion Assel Kanay of Kazakhstan hopes to win her second continental crown. Also in the quest for gold, Olympic Games bronze medallist Li Gong of China will use her Olympic status in her first continental participation after changing divisions from Female Kumite -68kg to Female Kumite -61kg.


Current Silver medallist Kymbat Toitonova of Kyrgyzstan is also among the big names of the event as she hopes to win her first title in international competitions.



A new champion will be proclaimed in Female Kumite -68kg since defending winner Kayo Someya of Japan will not participate in Melaka. Silver medallist Thi Huong Dinh of Vietnam and bronze medallists Ceyco Georgia Zefanya of Indonesia and Mobina Heydariozomcheloe of Iran will also try to use up their chances to claim gold.



The renovation of AKF champions will continue in Female Kumite +68kg with the absence of current titleholder Ayumi Uekusa of Japan. Olympic Games bronze medallist Sofya Berultseva of Kazakhstan acts as the main frontrunner of the category in her quest to take her first gold after losing the final three times.


2021 AKF Champion Yuzuki Sawae of Japan and bronze medallists Leila Borjali of Iran and Kay Yan Ho of Hong Kong China will also have their eyes set on the podium.  


Defending champion and Grand Winner Kakeru Nishiyama appears as the big favourite in Male Kata, in his quest for his second continental crown.


Olympian Heejun Park of Korea and silver medallist Ahmad Zigi Zaresta Yuda of Indonesia hope to finish Japan’s domination in the category.



The main favourite in the category of Male Kumite -55kg is current titleholder Omar Shaqrah of Jordan.


The hopes of the host country will be headlined by Prem Kumar Selvan who won bronze at last year’s edition of the event.



Kuwait’s Abdullah Shaaban is the defending titleholder in Male Kumite -60kg and will fight for his third continental crown in Melaka. 2022 medallists Abdullah Hammad of Jordan and Japan’s Hiromu Hashimoto are also among the contenders for the throne.



The big favourite in Male Kumite -67kg is Olympian Abdel Rahman Almasatfa of Jordan, who is also the current gold medallist and two-time continental titleholder. Kazakhstan’s Didar Amirali and 2019 champion Sadriddin Saymatov of Uzbekistan will try to upset the main frontrunner in the division.



The always surprising category of Male Kumite -75kg has a host of top karatekas hoping for the gold medal. The defending champion is Hasan Masarweh of Jordan, who prevailed last year in his first international final.


Olympian Nurkanat Azhikanov of Kazakhstan, former World champion Bahman Asgari Ghoncheh of Iran and 2021 champion Yusei Sakiyama of Japan also will catch the attention of fans.



Karate’s enthusiasts will set their eyes on Mohammad Aljafari of Jordan in his quest to take his second consecutive gold in Male Kumite -84kg.


Two-time continental champion Zabiollah Poorshab of Iran and 2021 runner-up Rikito Shimada of Japan will try to dethrone the defending champion from Jordan.



The possibility of a repetition of the remembered Olympic final of Male Kumite +84kg featuring Olympic gold medallist Sajad Ganzjadeh of Iran and Olympic silver medallist Tareq Hamedi of Saudi Arabia will be one of the main points of interest in the event.


Sajad Ganzjadeh has two continental silver medals under his belt, while Hamedi has claimed the title three times, last in 2021.