Interview of FRED ROYERS by Serge TREFEU (2010)
Serge TREFEU: Hello Fred ROYERS, thank you for grant me this interview.
You are with Johan Vos, Tom Harrinck, Lucien Carbin and Jan Plas one of the pioneers of the 70s of the Kick Boxing in Holland. You who was a great champion of karate during of numerous years (World Champion and Europe Champion of Karate) how you came to the Kick Boxing?
FRED ROYERS: When I saw Muay Thai for the First time I could believe my
eyes. I was afraid and I could not stand it. I wanted to conquer my fear. So
I went to the gym and started training.
The transition of the karate in the boxing it is easily made?
No it was in the beginning very difficult for me. I was not used to low
kicks, I had no idea about clinching and although I had done some amateur
boxing, it was the ferocity of Muay Thai that was difficult to get used too.
In what year you made your first fights in boxing?
I had my first amateur boxing fights in 1978 and my first Muay Thai
fight in 1980
Why you wanted to try this sport different from yours (karate), by
spirit of challenges?
When I saw my first Muay Thai fight in Holland it was in 1976. I was
shocked by the way they fought. I was used to the controlled environment of
sport karate but this was entirely different! And to be honest, I had to
admit to myself that I had no answer to their way of fighting. It was just
too much for me. I felt fear and I hated that. So I decided that if I want
to conquer this fear there is only one thing you can do. Join them!!
The Savate, the Kick Boxing and the Muay Thai were well known to
your time in Holland?
It had just started to become known in Holland. I think Holland was one
of the pioneers for Muay Thai in Europe together with France and England.
We liked Muay Thai right away although the term “‘Kickboxing”” was used for
what we now call Muay Thai. Still even now in Holland, 35 years later, many
people (even fighters and trainers!) use the name kickboxing when they mean
In what Gym you began the boxing and which were the fighters in this
I began and have always during my fighting career been training in
Mejiro gym in Amsterdam. At the time you had strong fighters like Lucien
Carbin, Andre Brilleman, Rob Kaman, Miloud el Geubli, Ares Koopman.
A little later fighters like Bert Van Os, Andre Mannaart (he now owns the gym
and is teaching there fighters like Andy Souwer K-1 MAX winner), Tommy Vend
Berg, Leo de Snoo and many, many more came and joined us.
This gym has always turned out strong fighter throughout the years. Two
times K-1 winner Remy Bonjasky was formed in that gym too.
You began to fight in which discipline, in Savate, in Full-contact,
in Kick Boxing?
I had my first fights in Muay Thai. But because in those day there
were not so many fights, we took on everything. So when they had an offer
for Full contact, or kickboxing or Savate, I said “”YES” right away!!
It was difficult to fight in all these disciplines?
For it was not a great problem to fight in different disciplines.
When I became older it started to be more of a problem than in the
beginning. I do not know why, but I guess after a while you are so used to
using low kicks and knees/clinching that when you have to do without them
(in for Savate or Full Contact) it is not so easy anymore!
How much fights in boxing, how much victory and defeat?
43 fight. 39 wins. 4 Losses
You gained a lot of fight by KO?
14 KO or TKO
In what category you fought?
I fought in the 70-76 kg division. But I have also fought guys much
heavier than me…
What was the discipline which you liked most in fight?
I like them all, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Full contact, BF Savate, Amateur Boxing…
But I fought most of my fights in WKA Kickboxing (no knees, no clinching) because at the time that was quite popular in Europe
You took gained several titles, can you say yourself in which
discipline, against whom and in which year?
Dutch champion Muay Thai and Full Contact in -72.5 kg in 1982. Europe Champion Savate against Robert Paturel (France) in 1983. Trophy World N° 1 in Savate against Robert Paturel in 1985 (At night of the martial arts in Paris). 6 time amateur champion Boxing eastern Holland 1978-1984. Europe Champion WKA against Ralph Berger (German) in Berlin in 1985. World champion WKA against Yasuo Tabata (Japans) in 12 rounds in 1985.
Of course prior to these ring fights I had been in the national Karate team of Holland for many years. We were world-champions in Tokyo (Japan) in 1977 and I have been European champion in 1978 in Helsinki and placed two time bronze medals at the World Championship in -75 kg in Madrid and Taiwan.
What were the champions whom you faced during your career?
To me every opponent felt like a champion!
But I guess I had some hard fights with French fighters like Youssef Zenaf, Pascal Leplat and Christian Bahfir. They were all tough and made me work very hard for my money!
Your hardest fight was against which opponent?
My fight with American Ernie Jackson and with Hong Kong fighters
Billy Chau were hard and tough fights. With Jackson (WOP -9 rounds) because he was not kicking very much but had very powerful hands and just tried to knock me out with these punches.
Against Billy Chau I broke my hands during the fight and it hurt like hell every time I threw a punch!
Your best memory of boxing?
All of my memories are good!
In the 80s you made big fights against French champions, we still
remember your memorable fights against the champions Youssef Zénaf and
Christian Bafir, you remember these fights in Paris, it is good memories?
Oh yes, I have great memories of those days. I trained many times in
France and was at the RD Gym of Richard Dieux (now deceased) Also because whenever I fought, even when it was not Muay Thai, people respected me for what I came to do. I enjoyed every minute of it!
You often fought in France?
I think I must have fought at least maybe 8 or 9 times there!
In the time the French fighters said that the Dutch fighters had all fighters’ style which advances ceaselessly and never moves back with very powerful low kicks, and it is true that you were a warrior who did not put off with the powerful low kicks and later fighters as Kaman and Dekkers has again had this warrior’s style which advances ceaselessly with destructive low kicks, where from comes this style of fight appropriate for the Dutch boxers, according to you?
It was my teacher Jan Plas who developed this system. Punching and ending your punch combination with a low kick, it was (and still is) the trademark of many Dutch fighters
Moreover in the time your fighter’s nickname was “The Gladiator “, where from came this nickname?
It was French journalist named Jean Paul Maillet who wrote an article on me when I was in the USA for the World games (Karate) who invented the name. He called me so because I was fighting in all styles.(Muay Thai, Karate, Savate, Full Contact, Kick Boxing)
What do you think of French fighters?
I think they are in Europe (together with the British fighters) the most Thai oriented fighters. That helps them very much when they are fighting in Thailand. In Europe it is of course not always the same. Many times you get judged in Europe differently then when you fight in Thailand.
Do you Know French champions from now?
Of course we all know Jerome Lebanner but also fighters like veterans
Kamel Jemel, Farid Villaume. Also new great stars like Abdallah Mabel, Yohan Lidon, Fabio Pinca, Benoui, Brice Guidon etc.
I know that most Dutch people do not know these names, but because I still follow all news from France every month in the magazine Karate-Bushido I stay informed.
For you at the world level what fighter in Kick Boxing is the best at present?
If you look at the K1 fighters I think you will see the best kick boxers there. Fighter like Sem Schilt, Badr Hari, Remy Bonjasky, Giorgio Petrosyan, Buakaw, Albert Kraus and Andy Souwer
And in Muay Thai?
For me I still like fighters like Yodsenklai, Anuwat, Sittichai and Big
Ben. I think Samranchai is a good champion too
When you fought what were the techniques which you most liked making in fight?
I think I did not have on specific technique that I like best. I liked to boxing (hands) a lot, but the Dutch style of fighting coupled with lot of stamina and conditioning suited me well
Do you think that in the combat sports in foot and fist, there is a discipline which is better than the other one, or you think that every discipline has its own effective technique?
No, it is not the style that makes the fight. It is the fighter that makes it…
You were one of the Dutch first ones to leave you train in Thailand, can you tell us this first experience in Thailand, in what camp it was?
I trained in Sityodtong in Pattaya in the eighties. There were great Champion’s like Kongtoranee Payakaroon and Samart Payakaroon there. Also I trained in a small camp in Phuket. But that was a long time ago…
Did you fight in Thailand?
What do you think of Thai fighters?
They made our sport into something great. The Thais have given us this great gift that we should cherish. I like their style although I cannot fight like them. I think that in Holland we have tried to fight like the Thais, with the Thai style in our own unique way. It is something like ‘Dutch Muay Thai”. It is Muay Thai and at the same time it is not…
I like the Thai fighters approach to a fight and their professionalism. They are the best in knees and clinching
In the 90s Holland was the country the strongest in Muay Thai after the Thailand, you think that it is always the case today?
That depends on what you call Muay Thai. In Holland we do not fight so often with the elbows, so strictly speaking it is not Muay Thai. But if we have to we fight with the elbows. One of my students, Khalid Bourdif, fought last November het in Holland against Yodsenklai with elbows. He lost on points but it was a good fight and fought on Full Muay Thai rules.
The 17th of April 2010, one of my fighters fought in Las Vegas (USA) on Full Muay Thai rules for the WBC Muay Thai international title. Her name is Jemyma Betrian and she beat the American champion Christina Toledo, with elbows!
But I understand why people do not like to fight with elbows and I think it is good that you do that, not until you are B or A class fighter
Holland at present in Europe is the country which organizes the biggest events in Kickboxing, K1 and Muay Thai, what is according to you the most beautiful event of the year in Holland?
There are two big events that I like a lot. Of course the huge Showtime event in the Amsterdam arena and the big SLAMM event where Holland fighters go on Full Muay Thai rules against Thailand
The stars current Dutch are who for you?
I like Badr Hari,Sem Schilt, so, Mootje Khamal, Andy Souwer, Khalid
Bourdif, Nicky Holzken, the Overeem brothers and of course Germaine de
Randami, the girl that nobody wants to fight…and many, many more!
Today you have your own Gym, can you speak to us about it, what discipline you teach?
I teach Muay Thai, Kickboxing and every other style they want to fight in a ring!
In my gym we have an black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teaching classes and we do Capoeira
What are the fighters whom you formed?
There are so many… Jan Wessels, Nico Anches, Perry Telgt, Jan Lomulder, Ray Staring, Khalid Bourdif, Krista Fleming, Mazhar Kamalizadeh, William Diender, Germaine de Randami, Jimmy Eimers, Jemyma Betrian, Tarik Mokhtar, so many A class fighters, the list goes on and on!
How it crosses your sessions of trainings, can you describe us a typical session?
It depends if we do pao’s or combination/sparring training. In the morning I train with my fighters pao’. They have to do the road work themselves.
In the evening it is mostly partner training, with endless combinations and lots of sparring. Of course, we have divided our classes in various levels.
Beginners, advanced and fighters. I keep them strictly separated so that they can gradually become better and go to the next group if they want to.
Do you sometimes organize seminars in Holland or even abroad to share your big experience of the boxing ring?
I travel a lot. This year I have been teaching seminars in Switzerland, Finland and I go to Portugal in June. I teach a lot of seminars and we get many fighters from different countries in our gym. They come from everywhere. Spain, Italy, Belgium, England, Finland, Greece, France, USA, Australia, Germany, Portugal, you name it, we’ve had them!
I had one guy from Australia, Mark Mullan, come over and he stayed with us for 8 months!
You realized a book ” Kick Boxing: Strategies and Techniques ” with
Jean-Paul Maillet can you speak to us about it?
I was my first book and I still like it a lot. Of course, the sport has grown and evolved and so now I would add many new things to it. But I was proud of my work and the good photography of Jean Paul Maillet
In 2009 you received a trophy for your nomination in the “Pantheon of Sports and Martial Art “, this trophy you received him for your incredible sporting career, it is the beautiful award, that represents this award for you?
It means the recognition of other experts and that it always a great honour, although I think that there are many others in our Muay Thai and Kickboxing community that deserve it just as well
Since 20 years you are a journalist for the sport channel TV Eurosport, it is the thing on which you always like commenting on the TV?
It is a great job and I do not really consider it ”work”. I get paid for watching incredibly good fights on TV and I am allowed to comment on them…that is quite a job, don’t you agree?
To me, even though it takes a lot of my time in travelling to the TV studio’s and preparing my broadcast, it still feels like ”I am getting a present” every time I do this!
Today how old you are?
I am 55 years of age
Your passion for the combat sports is always intact?
You bet it is !
Are you married, you have children’s?
I have no children and not married, but I had a wonderful girlfriend for many years
She practises a combat sport?
She is a fighter too.
What are your projects for years to come?
Stay healthy and in shape, stay curious and try to improve all the time and turn out many more champions if possible!!
You want to add anything?
No, just that I hope that everybody who reads this will get the same satisfaction out of our sport as I have had over the years.
Thank you very much for this interview and Good Luck for your projects!
Fred Royers is a live legend of Dutch boxing rings and makes left with Jan Plas, Johan Vos, Lucien Carbin and Tom Harrinck, of pioneers of the Kickboxing in Holland. Intended to become a professor of English him preferred dedicated his whole life to the combat sports. His career was rich in great victory in front of champions of his time and it in several disciplines of contact sports. If in the 80s, Free Fight had appeared, it is sure that “The Gladiator” would be among the best fighters of this new discipline there. During all his years of competition, he was entitled many time “the front page” in magazines specialized all Europe!
At the age of 55, he is always in search of new experience in various shape of combat sport. And he does not hesitate to go all over the world, in the USA to perfect his Boxing, in Thailand to learn the secret techniques of Muay Thai, and come back teaching them to his pupils. In Holland he makes left the best trainers of the country, the list of the champions which he formed is very long…
Weight: 71 kg-75 Kg
Number of fight (Boxing): 43. 39 wins (14 KO). 4 Losses
BOXING: World Champion WKA Kickboxing (1985)
Trophy World N° 1 in Savate (1985)
Europe Champion Full contact (1982)
EuropeChampion Savate (1983)
Dutch champion Muay Thai (1982)
Dutch champion Full Contact (1982)
Amateur boxing champion regional (1978-1984)
KARATE: World Champion Team Holland Tokyo (1977)
Europe Champion Helsinki (1979)
Europe Champion Geneva (1978)
3rd place World Championship Taiwan (1982)
3rd place World Championship Madrid (1980)
10 times national champion
Gym : KICKBOXING ARNHEM
FIGHT & POWER CENTER-KICKBOXING ARNHEM
KLARENDALSE WEG 193,
6822 GJ ARNHEM
Website : www.kickboxingarnhem.nl