Minnesota’s Kaitlin Young of The Academy is competing tomorrow morning at the 2017 World Games in Poland. Young is representing the WAKO USA kickboxing team and competing against a fighter from Jordan in her first bout at 65kg. Kaitlin’s match can be seen HERE live at 4 A.M. local time.

Young is the current TBA (Thai Boxing Association) Pro World Champion at Super lightweight, (137lbs.) and in her most recent bout, defeated multiple time WBC boxing champion Daoudon who transitioned to Muay Thai a few years ago. The win brought her professional Muay Thai/Kickboxing combined record to 11-1 and she is currently ranked #9 in the world under the WAKO (World Association of Kickboxing Organizations) professional 65 kg rankings. If that wasn’t enough, Young is also the Pan American Champion in the same weight class.

Minnesota Fight News was able to chat with Young before she left for Poland where her first bout is now only hours away. Young discussed the upcoming tournament, her headlining kickboxing bout at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, MN on September 9th, and more.


Can you talk a little about your history with representing the WAKO US Kickboxing team and how you began competing with team USA?

It’s funny, because it was sort of by accident. I was still fighting MMA at the time. I had attended some smoker fights hosted by The Cellar Gym one evening, and they announced that there was an open sparring event the next day. I had planned to have brunch with some friends that morning in the same neighborhood, so I stopped in for what I thought would be some chill rounds afterward. Only upon arriving did I realize that it was a sort of tryout for the WAKO US kickboxing team! It was a full room and a lot of fun. We went for 2 hours of non-stop sparring. I walked out with two black eyes but must have done all right because shortly after I was asked if I would be interested in competing internationally for the US kickboxing team. 
That was November or October of 2013. Since then, I have fought in Russia, Serbia, Germany, and Mexico with WAKO under K1 kickboxing rules. In a couple of weeks, we will be competing in Poland. Fighting with them is one of the factors that helped me decide to switch back to striking exclusively. 

In terms of simply representing the US, I have had the opportunity to do so independently in Thailand in the last couple years as well. Those fights took place under Muay Thai rules, rather than K1. 

You will be competing in the 65KG weight division which I believe is 143 pounds? Can you talk a little about the tournament details, which is in Wroclaw, Poland. Also, if you know who you will be facing, what can you share about her and what you expect in the fight? (This interview was done days before the brackets were announced)
Yes, 143 is the class I often do internationally. It is a little heavier than normal for me, but with the international flight and many other variables it is safer to not include a big cut with the travel. Also, Europeans don’t usually cut the same ridiculous amount of weight that we sometimes do in the States so there is really no need.
The World Games is a unique tournament in that it is only held every 4 years. It is more selective than the World Championships where each country is allowed to send one athlete in each class.You first have to qualify in your country, then have to qualify in your region (Pan America, for us), then you are finally eligible for the World Games. There are only 8 athletes per weight class who will receive eligibility to compete. As such, the 7 other women in my bracket all bring extensive competitive careers to the table. 

The draws haven’t yet been released, so we don’t know who my first round opponent will be. I have watched video on all of them and see some things I believe I can exploit. Provided everyone who wins makes it to the next round uninjured, it will take 3 fights to get the gold medal. The quarter and semifinals take place on July 26th with the finals taking place on July 27th. 

As I understand it, it will be televised both in the US and abroad. Because it is an event with multiple sports, it will be difficult to know how much coverage kickboxing will receive and at what time. I will try to post about it when I find out!

I was looking at the team USA website and I see that you are not the only Minnesotan representing team USA. It’s a pretty amazing list considering almost half the team consists of Minnesota talent. Can you talk about your Minnesota teammates that make up the list?
There is a vast and often overlooked talent pool of kick boxers and Muay Thai fighters in Minnesota. A lot of the major promotions on the coasts have not really tapped in to this, usually only to giving opportunities to Midwest fighters on short notice or when being brought in to “feed” a local fighter. We haven’t really had the same visibility as the athletes in other parts of the country. Luckily, this is beginning to change with promotions like Driller stepping up to the plate and creating opportunities. The rest of the world is about to learn!

Unfortunately, Nate Richardson from The Cellar broke his hand a few weeks before the Pan Am qualifier. Had he been healthy, I have no doubt he’d be attending the World Games. 
Troy Jones Jr. will also be representing the US at the World Games, but under Muay Thai rules. 
Not to get off the topic, but you are also set to fight for the World Super Lightweight Muay Thai title against Martyna Krol on September 9 at Canterbury Park in Shakopee MN. Can you share details on that fight and your opponent?
Yes! Martyna is a Polish Muay Thai fighter. She has had a good number of fights, and most of them took place in Thailand. She’s been fighting for a relatively short amount of time, but gained a lot of experience in those years. She has good knees, low kicks, and a sneaky spinning backfist. We will be the main event of the Muay Thai portion of the card.