Vancouver Island fight promoter Jason Heit gears up for first post-pandemic boxing show

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There’s not much Jason Heit hasn’t done in combat sports. As a fighter, Heit has competed in boxing, kickboxing, and MMA.

There’s not much Jason Heit hasn’t done in combat sports.

As a fighter, Heit has competed in boxing, kickboxing, and MMA. And away from the cage or the ring, he took care of Drew Barrymore, David Duchovny, Nicolas Cage and Robbie Williams as a bodyguard.

“It’s been a crazy trip for sure,” Heit said. “Rubbing elbows and taking care of every celebrity you can imagine.”

These days, the veteran Vancouver Island fight trainer is putting on his promoter’s hat. Heit and Champ Promotions are hosting a boxing card on Saturday at the Roundhouse at Bayview Place in Victoria

The main event on the 12-fight amateur card features Terris Smith, who trains at Heit’s Island Boxing Gym, against Vancouver’s Saphir Vendroux in the 57 kilogram division. Smith, Chartered Accountant, was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian National Championships.

“She’s one of the best boxers in the country,” Heit said.

The map, titled “Back on Track,” is Heit’s first since the pandemic.

“This card is really to shake the rust off the ring and test the market. I haven’t promoted in a while and the world is a little different post-COVID,” Heit said. “I just want to test the waters with an amateur boxing event. And if all goes well, which it really seems to be… The next show will be a pro-am.”

He plans to focus on boxing in the short term but hasn’t ruled out staging other combat sports. Either way, he’s happy to get back to fighting, given the short lives of athletes who have been shelved due to COVID restrictions.

Heit said while his elite boxers were allowed to train during the pandemic, he called the police when some saw his gym was still open.

Heit got into combat sports the hard way.

At age 17, he won the 1990 Island Tough Man contest by knocking out three men in one night. He turned to amateur boxing and represented Canada at the 1995 Pan American Games.

In 1996 he moved to Los Angeles to train under Royce Gracie, returning to Canada to run a gym in Duncan, BC which produced WEC and UFC fighter John (The Natural) Alessio.

Heit had his first pro MMA fight in 1997, before moving to Los Angeles to pursue professional boxing. This led to a career detour as a bodyguard.

He continued to train in MMA, returning to Victoria in 2007 to open his own gym. He picked up victories in the Maximum Fighting Championship and King of the Cage promotions, retiring with a 4-0-0 rating.

His combined boxing, kickboxing and MMA record is 42-5 with 34 knockouts.

In 2008, he founded his own regional MMA promotion called Armageddon Fighting Championships.

In 2011, Heit and Armageddon co-owner Darren Owen appeared on the TV show “Dragons’ Den” looking for new investors. With two fight shows under their belt, they asked for $55,000 for 10% of their business to fund its growth. They ended up agreeing $80,000 for 30% with Jim Treliving and Robert Herjavec.

“It was a fantastic exhibit,” Heit said. “It was really good to help build the brand.”

But after more than a year of due diligence, “the deal didn’t really make sense to anyone because the business had grown and the valuation was different,” Heit said.

Armageddon eventually partnered with Edmonton-based Aggression MMA and Calgary-based AX Combat in 2012 to become the Aggression Fighting Championship.

In 2013 it was taken over by the World Series of Fighting which today operates as the Professional Fighters League.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 26, 2022

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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