History of BBKA


Jhoon Rhee

Alan Steen

Fred Wren

              Black Belt Karate Association of Hannibal traces its roots back to the Father of American Tae Kwon Do, Jhoon Rhee.  Alan Steen was one of Mr. Rhee's first black belts and was the  instructor of Fred Wren.  Mr Wren, nicknamed the Whirlwind because of his aggressive kick punch style, moved from Texas to St. Louis in 1969 and started Black Belt Karate Association of St. Louis.  Since then, Mr. Wren has been know as a instructor of many great fighters, many of which were on one of the original professional full contact karate teams, the St. Louis Whirlwinds.  They were a team feared for their aggressive fighting, which was no doubt a direct reflection of their instructor.
              Jim Smothers was one of the standouts of the team.  Mr. Smothers holds the Professional Kickboxing Association record for the fastest knockout, 7 seconds.  His first two fights lasted only 51 seconds total.  This talent caused him to be called St. Louis's Knockout King.  (ie. Contact Karate, Aug. 1976)
             Kirby Finders received his black belt from Mr. Smothers in 1978.  Mr. Finders also has a black belt from Ike Stafford, formerly rated #7 middle weight in the world and an instructor of traditional Tae Kwon Do.  Mr. Finders also has ranks in Judo and Kempo.
             Even before receiving his black belt, Mr. Finders began training in the developing art of full contact karate with one of the most colorful figures of the PKA world, Earnest Hart, Jr., three time PKA world champion.
             Since then Mr. Finders has won kickboxing titles in both light and welter weight divisions.  He also won a 1985 boxing title in the welter weight division.
             B.B.K.A. of Hannibal was formed by Finders in 1983.  Cindy Powell received her black belt from Mr. Finders in 1989 and then became the owner and chief instructor of BBKA of Hannibal at age 18.  Cindy is an internationally certified Pressure Point Control Tactics Instructor, and 4 time kickboxing champion. After training in the Philippines with undefeated world champion Mike Stone, she earned her 3rd degree black belt.  She earned her 4th degree black belt in 1999. Cindy has taught self defense to the Junior and Senior High School girls for the Hannibal Public Schools for many years.  She  has competed in many karate tournaments throughout the US and also hosts Hannibal's own Tom Sawyer Karate Championships every Fall.
            As of 2005 she has successfully trained  35 students to the degree of black belt, 2 to the level of 2nd degree, and 1 to the level of 3rd degree.