Interview of DON CLOVIS

by Serge TREFEU (2013)

 

 

Hello Don Clovis, thank you for granting me this interview, here is now about 30 years when you are a manager of great champions of Kick Boxing, you can tell us your debuts as manager?
35 years ago, I was to train in Gym Vathorst in Amsterdam, I knew Rick Vathorst, his parents, he was only 4 years old, and 15 years old later, he had his own Gym...

In the gym, has part Rick, there was also a fighter Yvan Thorne who trained. 
As one goes along, as I spoke three languages, It has me to ask to be his manager. I had then fighters such as Ramon Dekkers, Rob Kaman, Perry Ubeda, Rayen Simson, and well much later in MMA, Bas Rutten, Semmy Schilt, Cheik Kongo, etc....

I also had in the time a magnificent team of French fighter, in Thai boxing, with all the brothers Berrandou, I also have little to work with Daniel Quoniam and team of Paris/ Montrouge but only in MMA...

 

DON CLOVIS AND ROB KAMAN

 

DON CLOVIS AND BAS RUTTEN

 

SAM BERRANDOU, JOHNNY HALLYDAY, JO PRESTIA, DON CLOVIS

 

What are the qualities required to become a good manager?

I think first of all, the honesty and the respect for his boxers because I would be nothing if I was not good to the boxers at management, and vice versa, I believe that it is a deal in common, between us. Well agree on all the points together. I have never had contracts with my boxers, they could leave me at any time. But most, I have them manager during more than 10 years, and always without contract. The only one with whom I have make a contract was Cheik Kongo but I was very disappointed by his behavior and we have never signed again together. (The only contract in 35 years of career!)

You are French with the Dutch nationality, since how long you are installed in Holland and why to have chosen this country to live there?

In fact, in the 60s, I was a rock singer in a group of the North of France, I had the nickname of "Johnny Fisher" and my group it was "The Spiros", we were enough known. Having been born in Pas-de-Calais, to Liévin (a real « Chtimi » Northern French dialect thus!), I was then to Paris, invited by the famous singer of time "Sullivan".

I was still very young, but I already began has to be a manager of English stars such as Vince Taylor, P.J. Proby, and many others. I was with Sullivan very often in studios "Vogue", in the time in 10 street of Hauteville, we was next to the stars of time as " Les Charlots ", " Françoise Hardy ", " Petula Clarck ", " Pierre Perret ", " Jacques Dutronc ", etc...

Then one day in radio studio in Paris I met a Dutch group, in the time known all over the world, "Ekseption", they have me to invite to come past 15 days to Amsterdam, at their home with them. It makes now 47 years...

I am Dutch French, but recently I took some distance with my Dutch nationality, to keep only the French, feeling me more French « Chtimi » than Dutchman...

 

DON CLOVIS AS « JOHNNY FISHER »

 

You were a manager of legends of the Thai boxing as Ramon Dekkers, Rob Kaman, Perry Ubeda, Orlando Wiet, what memory you keep of the management of his immense champions?

 It was one very manager's great honor his great stars. Unfortunately Ramon DEKKERS recently died... 

I am always in good relations with them, even after their end of career and to be retired, I am now 66 years old...

I thus have of great memory, and I am very happy to see again them from time to time,

and still to go out sometimes with them. 

I am also to say that we had in France the organizers who helped us enormously, often by asking me to come with my champions in France. Also of magnificent persons, such as the promoter Sami Kebchi, Abbas Benakila, the journalists Thibauld, J.P Maillet, Pascal Iglicki, Mme Ghislaine Barissat from Karaté Bushido magazine, the big referee Denis Travel, the federation of Kickboxing WKA, the champions Danny Bill, Farid Kenniche and many others, sorry I cannot name everybody, it would take 20 pages. 

All these good memories stayed in me and I am very happy to see again some of them during my passages in Paris...

What are your favorite fighters all boxing confused?

There is a lot, I am certainly going to forget it, it depends on the former or on the new generation...

Bas Rutten, Rob Kaman, Perry ubeda, Rick Roufus, Don Wilson, Marek Petrowsky, Ramon Dekkers, Rick Vathorst, Zenaf, Leplat, Abdellah Berrandou, Skarbowsky, Jo Prestia, Dida Diafat, Kevin Randleman, Karakus, André Mannaart, Ernesto Hoost, Badr Hari, Saki, Peter Aerts, Rayen Simson, Semmy Schilt, Orlando Wiet, Sakmongkol, Nonglek, Krongsak, Somsong, there are many...

When I say favorite fighters, I don't simply mean in the boxing ring but also except the boxing ring, whether it is in Thai Boxing, in Kickboxing, in MMA, in Savate, etc...

 

DON CLOVIS WITH SEMMY SCHILT IN JAPON

 

What is that you followed the fights of French champions?

Yes of course, those of Jérôme Le Banner, and a little all the newcomers, the new generation, there is a very good team at present in France, very talented!

In the 90s, what were the French champions at the top that you liked seeing on the boxing ring?

Jo Prestia, Jérôme Le Banner, Jérôme Turcan, Dida Diafat, Jean-Charles Skarbowsky, Cyril Abidi, Joël Caesar, the brothers Zankifo, and many others, he one had crowned team in France there, among the best of the world!

Big events took place in this time in France, in particular with the promoter Sami Kebchi, I believe moreover that you have to work together, that hold you of this events organized by Sami Kebchi?

It was the best shows never organized in France, in size, really the Top, the events that I would never forget. 

He was the first one to organize these magnificent big events in France, and we liked very much him, always correct, very well organized, my fighters and I even always had a big respect and a deep friendship with Sami, we have never forgotten him. We still speak about it between us rather often here. I believe that if he began again tomorrow, we would be again with him. It is a friend for ever, and we have a lot of respect for all that it made in the sport Kick boxing in France but also not forget in Las Vegas and in Thailand!

In Holland, there is many events for a long time, big shows of Kick Boxing with a public who comes massively, why in France we manage not to have so much events as in this small country where is Holland, according to you what is that it comes from the public in France who likes less the boxing or rather of political authorities which slow down the evolution of its sports in the contry?

Yes, in France federations must be officially recognized by the Minister of sports. Not in the Netherlands...

Furthermore in Holland, many gyms are privates, they don't depend governmental rules,

but are only under the rules of the various federations. 

But the biggest " good point " to the Netherlands, it is because in the same event he can there have fights in Thai boxing, in Kickboxing, in MMA and sometimes even in Boxing or Savate, what is forbidden in France, because there were always wars enter the various federations France. The politics in France to interfere too much, I think, of the sport, and don't listen to the parties concerned, the real connoisseurs...

In the years 90/91 I was the President of the federation WKA kickboxing, chosen by his members. But I was already ready to have a federation which could organize, and have members, both in Thai Boxing and in Kickboxing. But it was badly interpreted, and I thus had to leave the federation WKA because there was too much opposition to the time...

I see at present that the French rules of MMA, in free fights, have too many limitations. But I agree that in MMA there should be good rules for the protection of the fighters. 
France is often very late, to see for example, "Pancrace", the "MMA", we began Pancrace in Japan in 1990 (with naked hands) we can see the videos of time, and there were nevertheless fewer wounds than in sports as the ski, the motorcycle, the sports cars etc....

It is true as well as public Dutch is very hot and very fan of the events of Kick Boxing. 

But at present in Holland, there is also less of big shows, because the politics to interfere in it after some disappointement outside the boxing ring caused by certain boxers of renamed...

The financial supports were also for supported organizations, for example K-1 there the founder of which I was with Mr Ishii in Japan, this organization was all over the world considered. At the moment it is the Company " Glory World Series " which is kept by Dutch!

I was never able to understand why France with his 65 million inhabitants never had these big events after the time of Sami Kebchi...

At present some French shows do their best, but with all the limitations of federations or government, they have difficulty in surviving and it's a pity...

 

PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERATION WKA IN FRANCE IN 1990

 

Exactly for 2, 3 years again big events, in particular in Thai boxing, are organized in France, at first by Mr Cintura who went up meetings France against Thailand then today the « Best Of Siam » of Skarbowsky and Krongsak, Jo Prestia's « Warriors Night », and there is of course always « The night of the champions » of Eric Roméas, as well as the events of the promoters Hadj Mekedem and Kader Marouf, what think you of his shows organized in France?

Yes of course, I try to follow from here, and I hope to visit them one of these days because all these organizers have a big merit. I know very well Eric Roméas, who always has to organize of fabulous events in Marseille. Jo Prestia with whom I am sometimes in contact which in recently organized to Levallois-Perret, I know Kader Marouf, whom I knew very long ago. I'm follow a little the show Best Of Siam, and others...

I hope that all his young promoters shake hands one of its days and can organize together, in all the forms whether it is, on one same boxing rings, in Thai boxing, in Kickboxing, in MMA, why not...

I hope can be to make a come back in France which is my native country, and which misses me, and brought my international knowledge, thus which knows...

You know in Thai boxing the current champions in France?

I don't know them personally, but some I try to follow them to see in a future, how I could develop them in certain events abroad or in France. This new generation is very well represented in France, but I have never seen them fighting in live in France, thus I cannot judge correctly, but I sometimes see the fights on YouTube, and I view the videos which we send me...

And in Thailand you know the champions of today?

Not really, some names, but the Thailand remains for me the country N° 1 with France and Netherlands of course!

You have already worked with Thai promoters?

Yes, specially with Mr Songchai in Bangkok, during of very many years, whether it is in Thailand for the King's Birthday, in Netherlands, in France, in England and in the USA, I mainly worked with him, in association with Sami Kebchi. I also made two or three events in France with the organizer of time, Désiré Thibault in Paris...

What is what you have already assisted fights in Thailand, stadium of Radja or Lumpinee?

Only on the King's Birthday, twice, with Perry Ubeda, Rayen Simson, Mamadeus...

 

PERRY UBEDA WITH DON CLOVIS TO KING'S BIRTHDAY IN THAILAND 

 

What think you of Thai fighters?

The thai boxing comes from their home, they are thus among the best technicians in the world, they already begin to train sometimes towards the age of 5 years, it is a big advantage on the European, they learn various techniques, they have a good preparation, they are of very, very good fighters, and they have a big respect for them opponents...
The only ones who can the worried are generally certain French and Dutch fighters...

You are one of first European manager to have collaborated with the creator of the famous tournament K1 Japanese Mr Ishii, how it passed your meeting with this big promoter?

Yes (Laughter), I was the only European manager in the time which worked with 6 federations Japanese in feet and fists!

All Japan Enterprise (Kickboxing and Thai boxing), MITSURUGI (MMA), PANCRASE, (MMA), DAIDO JUKU (Karate with Helmet, speciality in Japan), SHOOTBOXING (Thai boxing but in various rules). And one day I had the visit of Mr Ishii which asked me for a meeting in a French restaurant in Tokyo. Before accepting this meeting, I must be authorized by the other federations with whom I was already under contract. Thing was made, Mr Ishii had reserved a whole restaurant with only of the French cooking, seen my origin, that for us two and his two assistants. 

He wanted at this moment that we go up together a new organization call « KKK », I said to him that KKK it was not popular because it reminded Ku Kux Klan but him answered me it is for « Kickboxing, Karate, Kiukoshinkai ». Finally we decided together for the word K-2, the first eventn was named K-2 after it is K-1. In the restaurant where we were he asked me with whom and how we could make this first show with a price in the final of 500 000 dollars. Since his phone I have call Sami Kebchi in France and Tom Harinck in Holland with whom I worked at that time, and here is...

I remember first events in Japan with Ernesto Hoost, Rob Kaman, Eric Leclerc, Zankifo, Lucia Rijker, Andy Hug, Mansion Gibson, Changpuek etc., I always have these shows in Video, and so little by little K-1 grew...

I withdrew afterward in disagreement with the organization, and I to go into the MMA, I continued in Thai boxing and Kickboxing with other organizations...

 

KAZUYOSHI ISHII THE FOUNDER OF THE K1 WITH DON CLOVIS

 

DON CLOVIS WITH HIS TEAM PANCRASE IN JAPON

 

SADAHARU TANIKAWA PROMOTER FROM K1 AND DON CLOVIS

 

What are the fighters whom you have manage who participated in K1?

Eric Leclerc (France), Zankifo (France), Rob Kaman, Perry Ubeda, Cheik Kongo (in Holland under the name of Showtime) and others...

Who was for you the best fighter of the K1 in heavyweight?
It is difficult to say because several had the panache and each has of the merit. I liked sof course to see Le Banner and Abidi but I would say Ernesto Hoost, Peter Aerts, Semmy Schilt and Ray Sefo!

And in middleweight?

Before the K1 MAX, in K-1 thus, Albert Kraus, Andy Souwer, Drago made good impression...

K1 was for a long time the biggest show of the world of kick Boxing, how explain you his decline today?

To start with, the change of power in Japan, after the absence of Mr Ishii during several years. Then the bad circle of acquaintances in the management, too much competition in the Japanese staff. Then the rights too high to pay for the exclusivity, for used the name of K-1 by the organizers abroad.

Besides K-1 Japonais wished to keep the rights concerning the TV, DVD, what did not please in Dutch who organized very often K-1 in the Netherlands, but also in French, to Sami Kebchi who organized several K-1. Then again the return of Mr Ishii in the management of K-1, and there it is the war between him and the one who replaced him. Finally, the audience began to have it enough to see again in every events even fighters during almost more than ten years, without change...
Today K-1 Japon would have been acquired by an organization of South Korea...

What is that organizations how « It's Show Time » in Holland or « Thai fight » in Thailand, for example, can replace K1, and know a global success as long as famous Japanese tournaments?

« It's Show Time »in the Netherlands don't exist any more either. He is now replaced by « Golden World Series » but it is forbidden to occur in the Netherlands from now on...
Thus he evolves and tries to take the power abroad (Include France). They are effectively very capable of making a success such as K-1...

I don't know enough the organization « Thai Fight » but very well the leaders of « Golden World Series » thus I cannot advance on their capacity. But I know that the Thai organizations have well to evolve his last years, a new over arrive...

On the other hand, I hope profoundly that in France, a very good organization, solid, with serious leader, a good marketing, a matchmaking and of course on a solid sponsor, with its own French identity, can make absolutely better than at the moment concerning K-1, and considered I, I hope to be of the part...

Because for me, France has a magnificent potential, fighters of very high levels, at the top, and being able to absolutely align itself in front of foreign, Dutch, Thai, English...
But finally they are federations, and politics of the sport in France who have to negotiate to get on all, for the good of it fabulous sport, the "MARTIAL ARTS"!

You can say to us where from come your nickname "Don", is what that is in touch with « Don King » the famous promoter of Boxing?
(Laughter) Yes, exact. We were in a meeting with Sami Kebchi, Rob Kaman, Mr Paco Rabanne and with the famous journalist of time and the friend, Didier Simonpietri. Our meeting was about a line of clothes for sportsman who had to be called « K.O. MAN » in report in KO of Rob Kaman in the time. 

Paco Rabanne had to make the design, and in the discussion we come there to speak of course about Kick boxing, but also about Boxing. In the discussion we speak about the famous manager « Don King » and Paco Rabanne took out simply, " ah good Don King but fortunately we have here our Don Clovis! "

And Didier Simonpietri wrote this anecdote in his magazine, and since my nickname « Don Clovis » stayed in me, here is about 30 years now!
Whether it is in the sport or my other activities, (Movies etc.). We find almost everywhere the nickname « DON CLOVIS », to see www.donclovis.com

You are an anecdote of management to be told us?

Yes many, but I would say for the fight between Ramon Dekkers and Rayen Simson. In this very hard fight I was the manager of both fighters at the same time, thus this fight was very exciting!

 

THE FIGHT BETWEEN RAMON DEKKERS AND RAYEN SIMSON!

 

Besides the management you are also in the world of the cinema, you can speak to us about your made work as producer?
Yes, I became producing of movies since 2004, but the first produced movie was in 2006 in the USA, in Los Angeles. I was there as associated producer. I also took care of the International casting. 

In this movie « Honor » I brought, Funaki (Pancrace in Japan), Don Frye (UFC Champion of time), Orion Gracie and his son (of the family Gracie), Remy Bonjasky (K-1 Champion), Roddy Pipper (Wrestler in the USA), also the actors Russel Wong (Romeo Must Die), Linda Park (Star Trek), and the famous director and friend, David Worth who produced « Kick Boxer » with J.C. Van Damme. « Honor » was sold in 35 countries, of which France!

 

THE WRESTLER RODDY PIPPER AND DON CLOVIS IN LAS VEGAS

 

THE MOVIE "HONOR"

 

What are the movies which you produced?
I produced and coproduced several movies of actions and drama. But my speciality they are especially movies of actions and Martial Art.
I prepare movies with the titles, « Classified », « Killing the Seeds » and « Raw Steel ».
« Killing the Seeds » and « Raw Steel » were written by two talented French young people, Pablo Barbetti and Julien Prud'homme

I also prepare quite a different kind, a very big movie, the story of a star died, a history really, (the title cannot be still revealed) but the planned stars are Eddie Murphy, Jamie Fox, Beyonce, Rihanna, and many others, the budget is 28 million dollars, with the boxing, the music, the sex, many stars of the world of the cinema and the music. 
I have my company of production in London and in Las Vegas and I see of the from of Paris for possibilities...

You occupies also of music group of Hip-hop, you can say to us a word?

Yes, I had during almost 35 years, my own label « Joyto Records » and I have produce English, American, Dutch artists...
I always like the Hip-hop, the Rap, the R&B, and of course, I am always in love of
Rock 'n' roll of the 60s!
I was a manager of several stars and producer under my label. At present my label (Movie, Sport or Music) became « Joyto Group LLC » in Las Vegas, we can see on www.joytofilms.com

What are your projects for 2013?

First of all from sport...
I am this month this, in March, in Turkey, in Istanbul, to rise with my partners Turkish, new « Turkish Kickboxing Federation » in Istanbul. And then meet several promoters and organizations in the country.
By hoping there sent by the boxers, Dutch but also French and others. I would be moreover with my friend of very long date, the former champion of Kick boxing, and the actor, Don « The Dragon » Wilson. 

From of cinema, for the production, I have projects named above and a little more...

 

REMY BONJASKY, DON CLOVIS, DON « THE DRAGON » WILSON

 

You want to add some things?
I am very happy that you asked me for this interview, and of course, I would be very happy to return one of these days on the market in France, whether it is in Sport, Movie, or Music...
France was always in my heart and I again hope to make it one or several big good things in these next years...

A Big hello for all my French friends, French (Who I was able to forget to name in my favourite or other fighters) but I always think to you all, and especially to all his big French fighters that I always admired, even if, often I was in the other corner on the Boxing ring...

I thank you for this interview and good luck for your projects

Thank you

 

Don Clovis is a figure in the world of the Kick Boxing. It is one of the managers the most known about the world, he obtained a great fame in the boxing thanks to his charisma and sincere relational with the champions. 

Don Clovis has the double nationality, French and Dutch. He was born in France, in 1946, to Liévin in Pas-de-Calais. In the 60s, after was a singer in a rock band, it enters a company of record renamed on Paris and becomes a manager of famous artists such as Vince Taylor, P.J. Proby, Sullivan. In 1969 he leaves for Holland to settle down there definitively, he acquired the Dutch nationality in 1998.

Don Clovis it's familiarize with the world of the boxing in the 80s by meeting the Vathorst family, the great champion Rick Vathorst was one of his first fighters whom he has managed with Ivan Thorne. 

Don Clovis fell in love with this sport and has stop making the promotion for more than 30 years. During many years the biggest Dutch champions were with him, champions of legends such as Ramon Dekkers (Rest in Peace), Cor Hemmer, André Mannaart, Rob Kaman, Perry Ubeda, Luc Verhey, Brian Pieters, Rayen Simson, Orlando Wiet, Gilbert Ballentine, Bas Rutten, Peter Aerts, Semmy Schilt!

It's one of the first ones to go up champion's big meetings heavyweight in Kick boxing in France as Peter Aerts against Maurice Smith to Paris in 1992. Finally, Don Clovis is also at the origin of the biggest tournament of Kick boxing of the planet, famous K-1, created in Japan in 1993 by Kazuyoshi Ishii!

 

@ « Siamfightmag broadcasts with accuracy the interviewed comments of the persons which commit only them even »

 

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anno 80  as RNR singer  JOHNNY FISHER 1980
ART REMY BONJASKY  DON CLOVIS  DON WILSON
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DON CLOVIS  as JOHNNY FISHER en 1 960- et 69
DON CLOVIS  BAS RUTTEN KING OF PANCRASE JAPON
DON CLOVIS  MANAGER DE  SEM SCHILT au Japon
DON CLOVIS  PERRY UBEDA  THAILANDE
DON CLOVIS  WITH MR ISHII   FOUNDATEURS OF K 1 JAPON
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DON CLOVIS HIS FIGHTER BAS RUTTEN  and FRIENDS KEN SHAMROCK and
DON CLOVIS last Live concert i as  JOHNNY FISHER in 1980 AMSTERDAM
DON CLOVIS MANAGER COACH OF CHAMPIONS
DON CLOVIS MANAGER DE RAMON DEKKERS ET  RAYEN SIMSON
DON CLOVIS president_wka_france  au japon
DON CLOVIS ROB KAMAN IN JAPAN
ERNESTO  HOOST  TYRONE SPONG  DON CLOVIS
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Honor
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iDON CLOVIS with his band 1974  INFLUENZA  2e of leftdf
JAPAN MAGAZINE  DON CLOVIS
KEVIN RANDLEMAN MMA UFC         DON CLOVIS
LUCIA RIJKER  DON CLOVIS
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RODDY PIPPER DON CLOVIS LAS VEGAS PARTY
SAM BERRANDOU  JOHNNY HALLIDAY   JOE PRESTIA  DON CLOVIS 93
TANIKAWA K-1 CHAIRMAN & DON CLOVIS
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