Already a town that makes its athletic presence known despite its small size, Prince Rupert may soon have another sport they can boast on the national stage and beyond if a pair of fighters have anything to say about it.
Dan Wong and Inderpol Bagri won gold medals last month at the Western Canadian Martial Arts Championships at BCIT in Burnaby. It was an impressive feat on a major stage, made all the more special due to the circumstances they encountered upon arrival at the event.
“They were going to fight in mixed martial arts, so we had prepared for that,” Kelly McMahon, coach and trainer at North Coast Mixed Martial Arts on Third Ave, said. “But when we got down there, they had cancelled the MMA.”
Faced with a choice to either sit out, or change disciplines, both fighters opted for the latter. Wong entered the jiu-jitsu category, while Bagri found himself in the kickboxing competition. The switch mattered little however, as both Rupert fighters ended up disarming the field to earn the gold medals.
“We didn’t train for that kind of fighting, so that was what really impressed me,” McMahon said. Bagri especially had little experience with kickboxing, minus a little work at the local training centre. “He mostly won that fight through footwork,” McMahon explained. “His fights were really fun to watch because they were really fast paced. They’re only two minute rounds, so you have to really give ‘er.”
Wong does have training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, although he was not expecting to have to use it during this October weekend. Still, he managed to overwhelm his competition, choking out his final opponent to grab the gold.
“It isn’t so much where you go, it’s who it is. It’s a lot of the individual rising to the top in these situations, through focus more than anything” McMahon explained of his fighters securing the victories despite the last-minute change of plans. “The guy that goes everyday is going to beat the guy that doesn’t go everyday.”
Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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