Watson Lake will be the scene of the first-ever kickboxing world title bout in the Yukon on September 29.
Thanks to fight promoter Keith Varga and unanimous support from town council, Watson Lake will host Quest for the Title 8 at the community’s recreation centre.
“What you will witness in Watson Lake is the highest level of kickboxing talent in the world,” said Varga. “It does not get any better than this anywhere, and it will be right here in Watson Lake.”
“We’re excited about it,” said Watson Lake mayor Richard Durocher. “He made a proposal to us and Keith was very professional about how he made the presentation. He showed us examples of events he’s put on down south – I think in Kelowna and another one on Vancouver Island.
“Council was behind him 100 per cent because we felt it would be a good thing to bring to Watson Lake.”
Going for his third world title will be Varga’s son, Gabriel. The title, which is currently vacant, is the International Sport Karate Association (ISKA) Pro K1 super light weight title.
Gabriel, 27, currently holds both the World Kickboxing Network and World Kickboxing Federation world titles, with over 20 professional wins under his belt. He was about to go for the World Boxing Council title at the start of the year in New Jersey, but the fight was called off when his opponent wasn’t cleared by doctors.
He also has a second-degree black belt in shotokan karate.
Gabriel’s opponent has yet to be selected by the ISKA, but it is possible Japan’s current K1 champion could be flown in for the event.
In addition to the pro fight, Quest for the Title 8 will feature 11 amateur fights. For all, Keith plans to include Yukon fighters.
Keith is currently in talks with the Yukon Amateur Boxing Association and Whitehorse’s two mixed martial arts (MMA) clubs, Avalanche MMA and the Chaos Combat Club, to find 11 local fighters to enter the ring against 11 B.C. fighters.
“The event will include 11 amateur bouts and will be a Yukon versus B.C. event,” said Keith.
“This will be the first opportunity for the Yukon fighters to compete at home. I know this will be the chance to showcase their talents to their families and friends right here in the Yukon. After all their years of hard work, countless hours of dedication in the gym, they will be able to show the sport they love to the Yukon.”
Although there’s room for movement, Quest for the Title will comprise four bouts each of kickboxing, boxing and MMA.
If the MMA fights take place, they will be the first ever in the Yukon. The boxing and kickboxing fights will be the first in over a decade.
The decision to put on MMA fights is where things get a little iffy. Whether or not MMA is legal in the Yukon is unclear; there doesn’t appear to be any law regarding MMA, one way or the other, said Keith.
So the plan is to go forward with MMA until told otherwise.
“If they can’t do MMA, then they’ll do kickboxing,” said Keith.
Keith is blown away by the support he received from Watson Lake. Not only did the town council vote unanimously in favor of the event, the hosting Watson Lake Recreational Centre has even agreed to postpone putting ice in their hockey rink so the event can be held there.
Gabriel has a fight scheduled for August 18 and requires six weeks to prepare for his Watson Lake fight, which is for a title he’s been gunning for since the beginning. (Gabriel held two ISKA amateur titles that he had to give up when he turned pro.)
“That’s why we pushed this event back to the 29th (of September), to give him six weeks in between,” said Keith.
“It will be one of those events that showcases Watson Lake and we’ll try as a municipality with our recreation department to host other mini-events around it to keep people entertained,” said Durocher. “We thank Keith for offering the event to us, and we think it will be great.
“It’s turning into a bit larger event than we anticipated in the beginning. But Watson Lake can handle it for sure and we’ll try to make it a first-class event.”
Putting on a world title bout requires more than simply getting two top fighters in the ring. ISKA executive Don Arnott is assisting the town in creating an official Watson Lake Athletic Commission to sanction the one professional bout.
“How incredibly supportive the Town of Watson Lake is in helping make this event happen,” said Keith. “I made one call to present the idea and mayor Richard Durocher liked the idea of me doing this event here in Watson. I attended the town council meeting and after my presentation … they unanimously voted to allow and support this event.”
Ticket prices for Quest for the Title are expected to range from $35 to $75. The venue could potentially hold up to 1,500 spectators.
For more information contact Keith Varga at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Tom Patrick at