It’s been awhile since Stan Peterec looked this good.
The 53-year-old former world kickboxing champion dropped 45 pounds earlier this year during two months of training and coaching in Thailand.
With the lost weight, he’s feeling good. So good, he’s getting back in the ring for the first time in more than a decade.
This Saturday (Aug. 25) Peterec is headlining his annual event, Summer Slugfest VI, at Archie Browning Sports Centre.
“When you’re fighting at this age, your heart and mind are in the right place,” Peterec said. “But the vehicle that is your body doesn’t run like it did.”
Peterec last fought in 2000, a rematch of his 1997 mixed martial arts tilt with Dragyn Yoyanovic at the old Memorial Arena.
“Stan still hits hard, which is what he’s known for,” said kickboxer Linsday Ball.
The student of Peterec’s is a current world and Canadian title belt holder in the featherweight category, and regularly trains one-on-one with Peterec.
Until this year, Ball didn’t hold the pads for Peterec in training sessions. But she now knows what Peterec is all about.
“I’ve been bruised on my face and knocked to the ground from training sessions, even with the pads. You have to beware.”
Ball spent the better part of the past year in Thailand, where she won a world title and then a world tournament in Korea. Peterec joined her at the same gym in February, and started “dropping weight like crazy.”
“All of a sudden I lost 45 pounds, I was training and jogging everyday,” Peterec said.
“He has the skills, so to watch him get into shape – it’s scary,” Ball said. “He started to out run me.”
Ball is also fighting on Saturday night, against Kate McGraw from Los Angeles, Calif.
“I’ve never seen Stan fight so I’m very excited.”
Ticket sales and feedback are evidence that fans are excited to see Peterec back in the ring.
Naturally at 53, there are also some who are worried about him, including himself. For starters, he’s fighting a 30-year-old named Tracy Hebert.
“I’ve had most of my old pals saying ‘Why are you fighting this guy?’” Peterec said. “‘Take an easier fight,’ they tell me. And here I am taking on an in-your-face, high cardio guy who comes right at you.”
About 10 years ago, Hebert came to Peterec’s for a few weeks to train and the two actually sparred, so they know a little bit about each other. Enough for Peterec to know he’s facing a very fit opponent.
“If I don’t knock (Hebert) out, I’ll have to work like a dog to keep him from killing me.”
Peterec has been organizing kickboxing and MMA fight cards since the ’90s, and fought a few times in the earlier days of MMA. But now he’s returning to kickboxing, the sport in which he was dominant as a world champion.
Peterec also wants to be the first Canadian to fight in five different decades.
“(Panamanian fighter) Roberto Duran is famous for it, and Jack Johnson did it too. But I’ve searched, and asked around, and I can’t find any record of a Canadian having done it.”
Tickets are available at Sports Traders, 508 Discovery St., and Peterec’s Gym, 831 Fisgard St. Doors open at 6, fights at 7 p.m.
Also on the bill are local favourites Hal Kreisel, Mike Downey, Alex Tribe and Rob Doerksen.
Kickboxer Gabriel Varga on world stage
World champion kickboxer Gabriel Varga of Saanich has signed a contract to expand his career as a pro fighter.
Varga, a former student of Stan Peterec, currently holds the World Kickboxing Network and World Kickboxing Federation belts in the super lightweight weight class of 135 to 140 pounds.
The Lambrick Park secondary grad will realize his dreams next month by fighting in the K-1 organization in Los Angeles on Sept. 8. Varga, 24, will face Lerdsila Chumpairtour, 31, who has over 230 fights.
Later this year Varga, who was the headliner of Summer Slugfest I in 2007, will achieve another goal, as he received permission to fight for the International Sport Karate Association’s pro title.