There’s a lot more strategy involved in kickboxing than people might realize – it’s not just about who can kick and punch the other person more, it’s also about keeping from being punched and kicked.
One Campbell Riverite knows more about that than most people in the world.
Chase Ingalls is a three-time world champion, the current B.C. Men’s champion, Canadian champion and North American champion.
The 23 year-old has been into martial arts, “since I taught him how to do a front kick at the age of three,” his father Jodey says, but only started “taking it seriously” about eight years ago.
Jodey owns and operates Pure Martial Arts on Pier Street, where Chase also instructs the next generation of athletes when he’s not actually training.
“To be good, I pretty much have to live here,” Chase says, looking around the gym, the sweat still dripping off his face from his last training session. “It’s a lifestyle. It’s not a hobby.”
Thankfully, he says, he’s lucky enough to have a father who owns a gym, “so I can come in here and use the bags, train, and take advantage of the training facility. That being said, your body only lasts for a couple of hours of hard training.”
So that’s what he does. He trains hard for a couple of hours at a time. Whatever his body can take.
In between training sessions, he teaches martial arts or fitness classes at the gym or goes for a run.
In between teaching sessions or runs, he studies his upcoming opponent and other people’s fighting styles.
In between these things he fuels up with food.
Then he does another training session.
“Eat it, live it, breathe it,” he says.
Too bad he can’t make a living at it, as many others do. It’s illegal to get paid to kick box in B.C.
“Right now we’re working super hard with a group of high-level trainers to get it legal here,” Jodey says. “It’s weird, because we brought in MMA, which in my view is a much more brutal situation.”
“It’s held back,” Chase agrees. “Don’t get me wrong, it is a violent sport – a lot of people don’t like seeing someone get elbowed in the face. That being said, it’s kinda funny to say, ‘you can kick somebody bare-shinned – which is basically a sharpened baseball bat – but you can’t elbow, and you can’t use your knees.’”
Elsewhere on the planet, kickboxing is revered like hockey is in Canada, Chase says.
It’s the national sport of Thailand.
In Europe it’s frequently on national television.
Glory Kickboxing, the largest kickboxing organization in the world, just signed a contract with ESPN, the self-proclaimed – and rightly so – “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” to air future events internationally.
“I’m not harshing on Canada,” Chase says. “It is what it is. But Canada’s got world-class fighters that are just unheard of.”
Gabriel Varga, based out of Victoria, for example, recently captured the Glory Featherweight Title in Dubai.
But while Canadian fighters in other disciplines – George St. Pierre comes to mind for most people – get national and international recognition, fame, and fortune, kick boxers like Chase work in their father’s gym while trying to schedule two or three fights a year and fight for free to get enough experience to move elsewhere for the opportunity to make a living at it.
Fortunately, Chase has been doing well enough, built his name up enough and won enough fights against high-level opponents that people are coming from all over the world to fight him now, Jodey says, so he doesn’t have to go out and find cards to fight on. People have flown in from as far away as the Netherlands, France and England.
His last opponent wasn’t from quite as far away.
Last month in Victoria, Chase beat Andrew Vandervelden of Airdrie, Alta. in 1:08 by knockout, taking Chase’s career amateur record to 20-0-0.
So after his next fight, scheduled for this coming weekend in Victoria, Chase plans on going pro, despite it meaning he’ll have to go elsewhere to do it.
He and Jodey will be starting an intensive 10-week training camp together at the gym after this weekend’s fight in Victoria in anticipation of joining Lion Fight Muay Thai in Las Vegas.
“We just want one more amateur,” Jodey says, “and then we’ll be ready.”
They could use some financial support to make it happen, though.
“We’ve had a couple of people come and step up and support him (financially), but it’s been tough to find sponsorship,” Jodey says, in part because the sport itself isn’t very recognized.
Chase is hoping to change that by continuing to win.
Anyone interested in helping with sponsorship can contact Jodey at the gym at 922 Island Highway downtown across from Robert Ostler Park, by phone at 250-286-6980 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org