Mitch Burke (left) delivers a powerful blow during his fight for the BC WKL Light Middleweight Title on Oct. 4. Burke would earn the title with a seven-second knockout. (Nelson Yeo - MMA Sucka)

Penticton local looking to go pro in kickboxing in 2020

The sport will become officially legal in B.C. in just over two months

Now that professional kickboxing will be legal in B.C. in 2020, one Penticton local has his sights set on making it to the big leagues.

Mitch Burke has been fighting in the Battlefield Fight League (BFL) as an amateur since 2013 and is on the cusp of earning his black belt in sport-specific striking. He said his interest in mixed-martial-arts (MMA) and kickboxing arose after he saw a televised fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) league.

“I started training in 2012 and started fighting in 2013. I was recovering from a broken ankle in 2012 and I saw UFC on TV for the first time and I was hooked ever since. I basically saw it and was like ‘This is a real thing? You can do this?’ Soon as my ankle was healed and I could walk again, I quit doing everything I was doing and began focusing on martial arts,” said Burke, who trains out of CQC Survival Syndicate in Kelowna with his coach Chad Soper. “I was athletic before this because I was a big skateboarder, but I used to smoke and be a bit of a punk skateboarder kid. But then I got into martial arts and now I have pretty much done a 180 after that.”

READ MORE: Penticton fighter announces professional MMA debut with Battlefield Fight League

Burke said it has been a huge commitment to adjust his lifestyle so that he can continue to train and fight in the BFL, but with the recent legislation passed that will allow fighters to turn professional in the kickboxing league in B.C., it has all been worth it. He added that when he first began training and fighting, he may have entered the ring a little prematurely but does not regret the experience he has gained.

“I started training and there was an event coming to Penticton that was way sooner than I ever should have even thought about fighting in, but it came here and I just didn’t want to let it go by, fighting in my home town. So it was a big learning curve because I lost that fight in front of everyone I know,” said Burke. “But it was a huge motivator and eye-opener in terms of how I need to train properly and do these other things and not just jump into. So I took some time and from there I have gone on to be successful.”

Mitch Burke takes a moment to celebrate while receiving the belt for the BC WKL Light Middleweight Title on Oct. 4. (Photo by MMA Sucka – Nelson Yeo)

Burke said he trains for about two hours every day, rotating between high-intensity and low-intensity workouts. He has also had to adjust his diet, cut out smoking and make other lifestyle changes to ensure he is at his peak physical capability when it comes to fighting in the ring.

Sitting at two wins and two losses in the BFL lightweight division for kickboxing, Burke said he is ready to start kickboxing professionally in the league once he adds a couple more wins under his belt in the amateur division. Once he begins making a name for himself as a professional kickboxer in BFL, he said this will open the doors to joining the national and international professional kickboxing leagues such as Glory Kickboxing, which describes itself as the “premiere stand-up combat sports league.”

READ MORE: South Okanagan MMA fighter gets groovy with post-victory dance

“I’m going to do two more amateur fights. I have a fight Jan. 25 with BFL for the number one contender (in the lightweight division), so me and my contender will get a title shot next. Then I will fight for the title, assuming that I won, later in 2020 and then after that will be my pro debut,” said Burke, who is coming down off of his recent successful fight at the Gionco International AMA 35 on Oct. 4, with a seven-second knockout that earned him the BC WKL Light Middleweight Title.

Burke would like to thank his sponsors – Skaha Barbers, Men’s Grooming and Fine Retail, Murray Buick GMC Penticton, Fighting Fit Sports Massage, CBD You and Sherwood Signs & Graphics – for their support so far. He said he is always looking for more local sponsors and you can message him through his Instagram profile.

Burke’s next fight takes place in the Coquitlam Hard Rock Casino on Jan. 25, 2020, and will be available to watch on Pay-Per-View. He anticipates he will find out who he is fighting that night in the next few days, but said his training remains the same regardless of who it is.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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