After years of taking the position that the Criminal Code only allows Provinces to oversee two types of professional combative sports (boxing and MMA) the BC Government has had a change of tune and have announced the Province will legalize professional kickboxing. They have done so noting that pro kickboxing rules can simply be a subset of professional MMA (which readers of this site will know was raised as a possibility back in 2013). (And for you legal trivia nerds out there Wyoming is another jurisdiction that legalized a sub set sport under the umbrella of MMA saying that bare knuckle boxing is a variation of mixed martial arts).
It should be noted that formal regulation changes are likely needed as section 24 of BC’s current Minister’s Athletic Commissioner Regulations specifically adopts New Jersey’s unified rules of MMA for all MMA bouts with the section reading as follows:
Subject to the Act and the regulations, a mixed martial arts event must be carried
out in accordance with the Mixed Martial Arts Uniform Rules of Conduct,
N.J.A.C. 13:46-24A, as amended from time to time.
The following press release was issued today:
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 B.C. Athletic Commission has been working toward the inclusion of professional kickboxing for quite some time,” said 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 British Columbia, it was previously unsanctioned at the professional level. B.C. kickboxers face 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.
Josh Jauncey, ranked fifth in the world for Glory Kickboxing league –
“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. 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.”
Gabriel Vargas, Bellator world title holder, six-time world champion –
“I am so excited to hear that the Province of B.C. has sanctioned professional kickboxing. Almost all of my pro fights have been outside of Canada. It has been disappointing to not be able to perform in front of my family and friends, but with this change, I can have that opportunity. Up-and-coming kickboxers in B.C. can now start building their professional record at home before heading out to fight abroad. That is an amazing advantage to have.”
Stan Peterec, veteran Canadian kickboxer –
“As a hall of famer, champion, coach and builder, I understand the importance of this change in B.C.’s kickboxing world. Now that the Province will allow professional kickboxing, it will give our athletes a chance to compete on the world stage and to do it at home in front of fans. I loved entering the ring representing my country with a Canadian flag draped over my back, and now the next generation of young kids can experience that too.”
- The Office of the B.C. Athletic Commissioner regulates and supervises amateur combat martial arts including kickboxing, MMA, muay thai and pankration.
- The commissioner’s mandate is to ensure the safety and integrity of the B.C. combat sport sector through effective and efficient regulation, including licensing and permitting, and enforcement of rules and athlete safety.
Read about the B.C. athletic commissioner’s work: