British Columbia’s mixed-martial arts (MMA) athletes will compete more safely and at a higher level, following the B.C. athletic commissioner’s decision to authorize professional kickboxing.
The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon at the World Champion Club on No. 5 Road in Richmond.
“The B.C. Athletic Commission has been working toward the inclusion of professional kickboxing for quite some time,” explained Kelly Gilday, B.C.’s athletic commissioner. “The decision to allow professional kickboxing in B.C. as a subset of MMA is a significant step toward reducing the risk to fighters by allowing them to transition from amateur to professional in the sport they have trained in for years.”
While kickboxing is allowed as an amateur sport in B.C., it was previously unsanctioned at the professional level. B.C. kickboxers faced the choice of either transitioning into the professional MMA discipline or working their way through the amateur ranks and then leaving B.C. to compete professionally.
“We are creating a safe place for athletes to compete at a professional level,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, responsible for Sport and Multiculturalism. “I applaud the B.C. athletic commissioner for taking these steps to strengthen the sport of kickboxing.
“Amateur kickboxing is thriving here in the province, and I welcome allowing these world-class athletes to compete at the professional level.”
The commissioner’s ruling will allow the promotion of professional kickboxing matches as a sub-group of MMA and expects to have full oversight of the sport in place in 2020. It is anticipated the professional matches may begin sometime next year after further regulatory details are finalized. The first step will be assembling a committee of kickboxing leaders to help with implementation.
As part of a multi-year review process, the commission has looked at MMA and the connection it has with other combat sports, including kickboxing. Aligning kickboxing with MMA will increase athlete safety by integrating training practices and standardizing techniques among participants.
“With the ban on professional kickboxing lifted in B.C., I'll finally be able to perform in front of my family, friends and career-long supporters,” said Josh Jauncey, ranked fifth in the world for Glory Kickboxing league.
“I’ll be able display the talent and potential that lives within Canadians and its aspiring youth, and I'll finally have the opportunity to compete more often and provide a better life for my family. We have been part of the kickboxing community in B.C. for over two decades and we have big plans for the future.”