Skip to content

Mponda Kalunga wants to bring boxing titles home to the Yukon

On the eve of pro bout, boxer looks to title shots and possible future event in Whitehorse

Mponda Kalunga the boxer is making some promises: A belt around his waist and a boxing ring back in the Yukon. He says he’s a man of his word.

Almost a decade into his professional career in the ring, Kalunga, who calls the Yukon home, is gearing up for his 13th pro bout against Mexico’s Uriel Hernandez. Kalunga hopes to extend his eight-fight winning streak with a statement victory over Hernandez at the CAA Centre in Brampton, Ont.

Ahead of the May 27 bout, Kalunga boasts a 10-2 record as a pro while Hernandez has 13 wins and seven losses.

Kalunga, a super-welterweight who goes by “The Egyptian Prince” due to his birth in the city of Alexandria, has been living in Toronto training hard at Rival Boxing Gym and Grant’s MMA since January to prepare for the coming bout.

“I feel amazing man, training is going good. I’m doing everything I can. I just can’t wait to fight,” Kalunga said.

Kalunga noted the challenges of finding and paying for a place to stay in Toronto while he’s training among other expenses but gave thanks for his sponsors in Whitehorse who have provided assistance. On his Facebook page he lists Burnt Toast Cafe, House of Wolf and Associates and Cinderwood Kitchens as local sponsors.

“As long as I’ve got water and food to keep me going and training, that’s all that matters. The dream is what keeps me alive. That is the truth. Doesn’t matter what’s in the way. It doesn’t matter. Anything,” he said.

While he says his work in the ring has drawn comparisons to the likes of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, Kalunga said a key to victory is to avoid having a predictable style that opponents can prepare for.

“I try my hardest not to have any style because I do believe that having a style makes you lose,” he said.

“Having no style, just being the best shape you can be, your mind is focused, you’re tuned in to the job. I think that is the best.”

Kalunga hasn’t done much to try and predict what his opponent might bring to the ring on May 27, but remains respectful of the competition despite the number of losses on Hernandez’s record.

“I’m going to train as I train for if I was fighting anyone else, you know. I’m gonna go there and I’ll win. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

The fight with Hernandez is on Kalunga’s birthday.

Prior to turning pro, Kalunga had a brief amateur career that culminated with a silver medal win at the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse. He says he knew early on that skills in the ring would be better suited to the longer more strategic pro fights than the shorter amateur bouts.

Once he gets through Hernandez, Kalunga wants a crack at elite competition and title shots that he says he’s been unfairly denied in recent bouts because of the threat he poses to top prospects. He is a contender for a Canadian title, a North American Boxing Federation title or a World Boxing Council international title.

“It’s just guys backing off as well as promoters not wanting to match me with the top guys because I’ve shown in the past that I can beat those guys,” Kalunga, who can boast five wins against undefeated boxers, said.

“Now I’ve beaten all those prospects, now they don’t want to give me top prospects because they don’t want me to beat them.”

Kalunga feels he has to be down in Toronto “chasing” the competition but says they can’t run forever and he has to be given a shot at a title soon. Once he gets his shot, Kalunga dreams of bringing a pro boxing card to the Yukon.

While he said there may be some challenges with legislation and the sanctioning bodies that provide referees, judges and medical staff for pro boxing events, Kalunga thinks there will be no shortage of spectators.

“Will the legislation in Yukon allow that. Will they say okay we are able to bring the sanctioning body up from Vancouver?” he said.

“If they say yes, then it’s no problem finding a venue and filling it up with people to get a boxing fight.”

Depite its remote geography, the Yukon has a surprisingly illustrious but distant history when it comes to hosting prize fights. The Dawson Amateur Athletic Association of the Gold Rush era played host to bouts between some notable fighters around the turn of the century.

One of the most prestigious fights to entertain the gold field workers was the 1903 scrap between Nick Burley and Joe Choynski. Burley had already made a name for himself locally by thrashing the former Australian heavyweight champion Frank Slavin in a Dawson City ring. Choynski was brought in as a challenger having already shared the ring with turn of the century greats like Jim Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons, Tom Sharkey and Jim Jeffries. Choynski’s lasting claim to fame was knocking out Jack Johnson, prior to Johnson reaching his prime as a boxer and eventually becoming the first Black heavyweight champion of the world.

Choynski and Burley’s bout drew a crowd of 2,500 spectators who were thrilled by Burley’s second-round knockout victory.

Back in the present day, Yukon fight fans looking to take in the spectacle of some pro boxing will be able to tune in to Kalunga’s fight on the streaming service DAZN. He said more information on how to watch would be posted to his own social media channels and the website of his promoter United Boxing Promotions.

“I just want them to know that I will bring gold back to the Yukon. I’m serious when I say I will bring the titles back to the Yukon,” Kalunga said.

-With files from Michael Gates

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
Read more