It sounds like the beginning of a martial arts movie.
A young boy gets bullied in junior high. He takes up karate in an attempt to defend himself, falls in love with the sport, goes on to win numerous world championships and eventually opens his own kickboxing gym.
But that is how Victoria’s Stan Peterec’s life unfolded.
At 13 years old, Peterec was starting junior high school in Port Alberni, when an older boy began bullying him. Over a two-year-period, almost once a week, the boy would shove, kick and punch Peterec, often leaving bruises whenever he saw him.
“It just never ended for two years,” Peterec said, adding the boy bullied other people as well. “It was a wake-up call for sure. I didn’t understand it (the bullying), but I had to deal with it.”
After seeing a poster, Peterec decided to take up kickboxing at a local gym to protect himself.
“It would push your limits. Everything I did in sports I did with teams. It was nice not to rely on a goalie or somebody else to screw up. If I screwed up, it was all on me,” he said, adding after a few kickboxing classes, the bully never attacked him or any of his friends again.
Eventually, that desire to defend himself transformed into an immense passion for the sport.
Several years after, the gym closed, forcing Peterec to relocate to Victoria where he began kickboxing competitively.
Over a 40-year-period, Peterec went on to win more than 1,000 competitive martial arts championships, including the Canadian super welterweight kickboxing championship in 1986, the world junior middleweight championship in 1987/88 and the world middleweight karate championship in 1994/95.
In 2014, he was also inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame.
After winning the world title, Peterec decided to hang up his gloves in favour of a different side of the sport. He took the earnings from his win and opened Peterec’s Martial Arts on Fisgard Street in 1991 — the first kickboxing school in Victoria.
Since it opened 25 years ago, Peterec has coached thousands of students, including 40 black belt alumni, and internationally-acclaimed champions such as Mike McDonald, Chris Peak, and Gabriel and Aaron Varga.
Though Peterec’s list of kickboxing accolades is extensive, his greatest accomplishment was opening the school.
“When I opened it, I didn’t think I would be doing this for 25 years,” Peterec said, noting many of his students went on to open their own kickboxing schools around the country.
“It doesn’t matter what I’ve done, it’s the people that have come out of here.”
In celebration of the school’s 25th anniversary, Peterec is hosting a dinner for school alumni at the Edelweiss Club in James Bay on Saturday, June 4. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the event begins at 6 p.m.
Alumni wishing to attend the event can contact Peterec at 250-885-7441 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.