Thursday, June 13, 2024

Kid Karam wants to ‘create fireworks’ as breaking prepares for Olympic debut

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British b-boy Kid Karam is convinced breaking is at an “all-time high” less than three months before its Olympic debut.

The inclusion of breaking – or breakdancing – was met with mixed feelings even inside its own community when it was added to the Olympic programme for Paris 2024.

Karam, 26, who promises “fireworks” in the French capital if he is able to qualify, says attitudes have evolved since that announcement four years ago.

“I wasn’t one of those people that was like, ‘Oh, I hate it.’ I think obviously within the community there was a lot of ‘should it be? Should it not be?’,” he told the PA news agency.

“I think over time that’s changed because I think we’re now getting very similar results that you would culturally to what you would in a sporting event. I feel like the cultural events have adapted too and I feel like people are more accepting of it.

“It’s given us definition as a sport, it’s given us opportunities as individuals people would have dreamed of, and I think breaking is at an all-time high right now.

“I think the scene as a whole supports it. It puts breaking on a pedestal for people to realise the importance of community.”

As a child, Derby native Karam Singh found himself transfixed by one of the background dancers in a Justin Timberlake music video and announced to his family: “I’m going to do that someday.” Everyone laughed.

Yet a few weeks later, then seven-year-old Karam saw his first ever crew performing at a community funfair and boldly asked if he could try a few things.

He ended up spending the whole day trailing the group “like a lost puppy”, soaking up as much as he could.

Karam had to wait a year before he was old enough for his first class and has a soft spot for France, the site of his first big international competition, Chelles Battle Pro, in 2010.

In 2019, he clinched the UK B-Boy Championships World Finals title, came out on top at the Red Bull BC One UK Cypher championships in 2020, and collected silver at the 2022 WSDF European Breaking Championships, and was a quarter-finalist at last year’s worlds.

On Saturday, he begins competition in Shanghai for one of 10 remaining places in Paris as part of the new, two-part, multi-sport Olympic Qualifier Series which will reprise in Budapest next month.

Karam said: “[Qualification] would mean pretty much everything to me. I’ve been breaking for a long time now and I’ve always wanted to be the best in the world. I’m 100 per cent or nothing.

“Right now in breaking, there’s not much bigger than this. I would love to be on that stage and really create history, create fireworks.”

Breaking has its roots in 1970s American hip-hop and street culture, and the strong emphasis on community half a century later is still held sacred.

At last summer’s European Games, recalled Karam, “people would kind of look at as funny” as the breakers happily socialised with their rivals outside of competitions.

The codified Olympic competition format, which differs from cultural competitions, is assessed using five categories: vocabulary, technique, execution, originality and musicality.

Karam likes Dutch b-boy Menno’s portmanteau “artletes” when describing breakers’ balance between the subjective and sporting elements of their craft.

He said: “I think it’s almost 50/50, but it can be whatever you want it to be. When I’m training, when I’m creating, I’m an artist, I’m a dancer, but when I’m preparing for competition I’m an athlete.”

Breaking will not be part of the LA 2028 Games, and while Karam is hopeful it could be added back in the future, Paris remains the only guarantee of making Olympic history.

Whatever happens over the next few months, Karam circles back to community when considering what his legacy could be.

“I just hope I can get to that stage,” he added. “I want to leave a really positive impact for the Games.

“Obviously there’s history for the sport but I feel a responsibility for the next generation a lot.”

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