On April 14, a kickboxing club in Sechelt will play host to the Canadian arm of one of the largest amateur kickboxing associations in the world as it seeks to develop a presence in Western Canada.
The World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) has recently been inducted into the International Olympic Committee and is recognized by the Global Association of Sports Federation.
It’s WAKO Canada’s first Western Canadian tour.
“It’s pretty huge, I’m pretty excited,” said David Hollett, founder of Hollett’s Kickboxing Academy, the club hosting the event. He said the event will be a good “ground-level entry” for B.C. athletes interested in trying to make Canada’s Olympic kickboxing team.
Hollett was “shocked” when WAKO Canada decided to head to his Sechelt gym. “I was expecting them to come to one of the bigger clubs in the city,” he said, adding, “No one really knows who we are.”
Muzammal Nawaz, president of WAKO Canada, head coach of the National Team and five-time world kickboxing champion, will be running the event. So far, 10 B.C. clubs have registered and Hollett expects up to 12 to participate.
Hollett had been in contact with Nawaz to explore the possibility of visiting Western Canada to give kickboxers in B.C. more opportunities to compete nationally and on the world stage. To date, WAKO Canada’s activities have been primarily concentrated in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.
WAKO Canada is hosting a handful of events in Alberta and B.C. this April to strengthen coaching and athlete development, according to its website.
The Sechelt event will include a coaching course, an inaugural Provincial Sporting Organization meeting, followed by a seminar open to coaches and athletes of all experience levels and ages. The second half of the seminar will focus on advanced athletes with scouting for kickboxers to represent team Canada at events in China, Bosnia, Turkey and the United States.
Hollett’s club also had success competing at the 2019 World Kickboxing and Karate Union Nationals that took place last weekend in Calgary. Three club athletes, including Hollett, Ryan Daley and Noah O’Sullivan, won the Canadian National Kickboxing Championships and made the organization’s national team. They are expected to travel to Austria in October to represent Canada at the World Kickboxing Championships.