Local kickboxer one of the best in the world at his sport

Chase Ingalls is a three-time world kickboxing 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 laughs, but he 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 also make a living at it, as many others do. It’s illegal to get paid to kickbox 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, Chase says, kickboxing is revered like hockey is in Canada. It’s the national sport of Thailand. In Europe it’s frequently on national television. Glory Kickboxing, the largest kickboxing organization in the world, recently 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, kickboxers 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.

And it’s unfair, Jodey says, to say that’s because kickboxing is just violence – that it’s not really a sport. There’s a lot more strategy involved in kickboxing than people might realize, which Chase knows more about than most.

These days, the Internet being what it is, there is a ton of footage out there of fighters doing their thing, and Chase and Jodey spend hours and hours poring over that footage, especially when it’s of fighters they think – or know – he will face in the ring.

“Chase has never taken any serious damage in a fight,” Jodey says. “Not a black eye, not a gash, he’s never broken a bone – maybe a couple of scuffs, but that’s about it. And that’s because we study our opponents so thoroughly.”

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, 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 to meet Chase in the ring.

Sure, he lost his last fight, but he’ll learn from that, and it was his first loss ever – he’s now 20-1 all-time. It also took a fighter with an all-time win-loss record of 38-3 from the U.S. a full five rounds to do it. Chase won his fight before that by knockout just over a minute into the first round.

So as of now, Chase still plans on going pro, despite having to go elsewhere to do it. He and Jodey are starting an intensive 10-week training camp together at the gym in anticipation of joining Lion Fight Muay Thai in Las Vegas. 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 here. Chase is hoping to change that by continuing to win as a pro the way he’s been winning as an amateur.

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 pureself@telus.net.