Yellowknife will host a series of national kickboxing title fights in February as a fundraiser for the Yellowknife Women’s Society.
The Fight For Her event follows a similar initiative in Grande Prairie, Alberta. The women’s society said it hoped to reach a different demographic through the partnership.
“Getting involved in sport reduces the risk that someone will be violent toward a partner in future. This drives home the importance of sport to mental health,” Bree Denning, the society’s executive director, told Cabin Radio.
“This was something we really hadn’t considered before. It will be interesting to see how we can raise awareness of domestic violence.”
The society operates an emergency shelter for women in the city alongside other programs. A percentage of revenue from the event’s sales will be donated to the society, organizers said.
“The first thing people talked about was: ‘Wait, you’re going to do a fighting event against domestic violence?’ We explained that it’s a sport, these are martial artists, it’s a different context,” said John Stanley, from organizer Stanley Boxing and Fitness.
“We’re fighting for people who can’t fight for themselves.”
Fellow organizer Scott Thomson said: “The Yellowknife Women’s Society jumped on board immediately. They didn’t hesitate.”
Stanley and Thomson said the event, on February 22 at the Chateau Nova Hotel, will feature three WAKO (World Association of Kickboxing Organizations) national title fights, including local representation.
Grey Patino, who began his training in Yellowknife before moving to Grande Prairie, will feature in the evening’s main event, a prestige fight between two Canadian champions.
Denning admitted that when first called by the organizers, she had wondered: “Am I going to have to be in the ring?”
She continued: “I find it intimidating, but it’s definitely something I would consider. I’m more of a runner, I can see myself running around the ring trying to tire the other person out.
“The women who are stepping into the ring, I have a lot of admiration for them taking on that challenge.”
“We want to bring attention to the issues,” said Stanley. “It falls under the radar a little bit. In Grande Prairie, we were shocked to find out that more than 50 percent of RCMP calls are for domestic violence. It’s far more common than people think.”
Thomson said: “We’re working pretty closely with the RCMP in Yellowknife. By the time they get a phone call, it’s usually the eighth or ninth incident that’s happened in the house before they even hear from somebody.
“We want people to know who to call, go to the shelter, and seek help and safety.”
The event includes a three-course meal alongside an evening of kickboxing and presentations from people involved with the Yellowknife Women’s Society. Organizers said they are looking for sponsors.