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Interview of RENÉ DESJARDINS by Serge TREFEU (2012)
Hello Rene, first of all thank you for this interview, how are you?
Very well, thank you ..
Let’s start with your boxing career, how you discovered the boxing?
I started first by Karate with Roger Paschy in 1971, I started very young, then I followed up by the Full Contact at the time of Valera, I’ve been France Champion Junior Full contact. Then I experienced Thai boxing, I have family who lived in Thailand, my sister lives here, and I discovered Thai boxing by going to Thailand, it was in 1975. And at that time, Roger Paschy began Thai boxing in France, the first kick boxing and Thai boxing…
In 1975, France, Thai boxing was not much known?
No, there were virtually no, it was not well known at the time there was also Patrick Brizon that started Thai boxing. And the first event of Thai boxing with fights in France is made ​​in Paris at the Gymnasium Pouchet with Roger Paschy…
So you started Thai boxing in Yamatsuki Gym of Roger Paschy?
Yes, a beautiful time, there was every all band, Daniel Allouche, Omar Benamar, Gilles Tirolien, Kouider Abdelmoumeni, Jami Mohamed, Christian Bafir, my brother Antoine!
At the time of Yamatsuki Gym there was known what other gyms?
The best known was the Brizon Gym and Bellonni Gym
You have fought a lot in France?
I think in France I was the first to fight in Thai boxing, it was a fight in a event hosted by Roger Paschy in Gymnasium Pouchet, after I do a lot of fights, everywhere…
You have make how much fight? 
I have make 50 fights with 40 victories, in Thai Boxing, Kick boxing, Full-contact and I even fought in Savate boxing against Charles Million
Do you fought in Thailand? 
Yes, I have make some fights, not in big stadium but on Bangkok, I fought twice and once in Hong-Kong, it was in the 80s…
You went to train in which camp in Thailand? 
To the camp of Captain Naris, to Bangkok, and in the time there was in the camp Attapong, Wanphadet, Kiosot, it was a real pleasure to train with these great champions!
And abroad you often fought? 
Yes in Holland, in England, in Belgium, in Switzerland
In what category you fought? 
In 57 kg
You gained titles? 
I was Champion of France of Thai Boxing, Vice Champion of Europe of Thai Boxing, Champion of Europe of Kick boxing and Champion of France Junior of Full-contact
What are the known boxers whom you faced? 
I fought English Ronnie Green (World Champion Thai Boxing, World Champion Kick Boxing), I won by KO against him, I put him KO in fourth rounds. And the English boxers generally made a success of me well because almost all those whom I met, I have put them KO. I beat in points for champion’s belt of Europe of Kick boxing, English Howard Brown (World Champion Kick Boxing). I fought Dutch Tekin Donmez (Europe Champion Thai Boxing) and Miloud El Guebli (Holland Champion), I lost in points against them, I met the Thai Soudareth (N°1 of Lumpinee), I lost by stop on wound in front of him…
You had a favorite technique when you fought? 
I liked very much the clinch and I had a good right hook!
What is your fighter’s best memory?
My victory against Howard Brown for champion’s belt of Europe. It was a great champion, it was impressive, very muscular, and I beat him at him in Manchester, I beat him in points in the discipline the Kick Boxing, because he did not want to meet me in Thai Boxing, it is a big memory!
Your hardest fight in your career? 
It is my fight against Soudareth. I dominated in points at the beginning, but towards third rounds, him began to get tired, and there I took a bad blow, a poke in the eye which completely closed me the eye, in the time the fights with elbows it was normally forbidden in France, but here is I lost on wound…
My fight against the Dutch El Guebli also was hard, it was a fighter of the Mejiro Gym, it was not very technically but it was one truth machine of war, it moved forward all the time, it had a big physical condition, I lost twice against him, in Paris and in Holland…
What work you made for the time? 
I was student in Science Eco and later I worked in the computing. I had very busy days with the training then the school…
After your boxer’s career you set up your own gym? 
Yes I moved on directly by going set up my gym, it was not easy at the beginning, between the studies, the trainings, and to take care of the gym…
You thus created the Derek Gym, it was in which year? 
It was in 1984 in city of La Courneuve
What mean “DEREK”? 
DEREK wants to say ” DEsjardins, REné, Kick boxing and it was in homage to my very first trainer thai…
Why you went set up your gym to city of La Courneuve (Poor suburb of Paris)? 
I had an opportunity because in the time when you went set up a sporting room in suburb you could have subsidies, the city hall had given us a beautiful room. But especially in suburb there was a potential for the boxers, there was a lot who ” were hungry “. In the time when we went set up this gym we compared that with the Mexican boxers, in Mexico in many poor areas there are gyms of boxing, and everything potential is there, in these districts there, it is boxers who want it. And the Derek was successful at once in suburb…
You were all only to set up your gym? 
At the beginning I was alone but later I asked to my brother to come to help me
Your brother he also fought? 
Yes it was a good fighter but he it is hurt in the shin, in the fibula, thus he was not able to make a career…
At the beginning you had how much member in your gym? 
From the beginning we already had about fifty members and it is very fast crossed to 100 persons then 140 persons. And at once there are boxers who was successful…
What are the first boxers known for the Derek?
At the beginning, Khaled Hebieb and Jean-Claude Coralie
After there were many of the great champions to the Derek? 
Yes a lot, there was of the world, saddened if I forget it, Omar Benamar and André Zeitoun came to train, there was Pascal Scalp, Jaïd Seddak, Fabrice Allouche, Stéphane Nikiéma, Léon Mendy, Guillaume Kerner, Joël Cesar, Christian Garros, Lahcene Brigui, Totof, Soso, Jamel Allaoui, Numbo, Kamel Mayouf, and indeed on Dida Diafat who did well to know the Thai Boxing in France. In fact, I am satisfied because there are lots of name of the Thai Boxing which are crossed to the Derek, the boxers who stood out in the world of the Thai Boxing. There was even a singer of NTM, Kool Shen who came to train for the Derek!
In the time it had become one of the biggest gyms of France? 
Yes and even in Europe, the Derek had become a good reference because all our fighters fought almost everywhere, it was the nice time, there was full of events, in France, in Europe…
Today who takes care the Derek Boxing? 
It is Léon Mendy who was a very good fighter and who is now an excellent trainer!
How belonged the atmosphere in the time to the Derek? 
There was a great atmosphere to the Derek. In fact, I applied what I had learnt in Thailand, the Derek it was as a camp, it was a family. The lads they gave everything when they came to train. In the sessions of clinch it was as in Thailand, you had a lad in the middle and three other fresh lads who turned each their tour with him, it was in the thai, it is for that than the lads were obliged to progress. Then in the time there were several very good gyms, the Bellonni Gym, the Lumpinee Gym of Sam Berrandou, ES Nanterre Gym of Kouider, Nemrod Gym of Omar Benamar, it was the healthy competition which motivated all the world to go upward…
Dida Diafat was one of the most charismatic champions of the Derek, how long he stayed in the Derek? 
Dida came from a gym of Villiers-le-Bel and he made practically all his career then to the Derek
What best memory you keep with Dida?
The best memory it’s his victory against Ramon Dekkers (World Champion Thai Boxing, World Champion Kick boxing), the first time when he opened him with a poke. We had worked a lot this technique on the gym. In the time all the world said to me “but you are crazy to make him fight against Dekkers”, but Dida beat him and he opened him very decently. And the revenge he has still won at points, Dekkers in the time it was all the same the strongest boxer of moment, a world reference!
His fight against the great American champion Peter Cunningham (World champion  Kickboxing) it is also a big memory (Draw and a defeat in points against Cunningham)!
A memory with Stéphane Nikiéma? 
His first meeting against Somsong (World champion Thai Boxing), Stéphane had gained the fight, he it’s made stolen, his a good and a bad memory. In fact, I had organized the event in Halle Carpentier, and I was caught in the crossfire, is I showed my dissatisfaction and in that case there it was the fire in the room, because there was all the community of the Laotian, Cambodian, Thai, which were for Somsong there, and close there was all the suburb which was for Nikiéma, and honestly Stéphane had won the fight, him it is made stolen, so…
With Totof (Mustapha Youcef)? 
Totof it was an excellent fighter, a “real killer”, to one of his best fights that he made, regrettably I was not there, it was in the King’s Birthday in Bangkok, against the Thai Pha Pra Kob (King’s Birthday in 1999), he lost in points and in fifth rounds he put KO the thai, it is an extraordinary twist in the drama!
Nikiéma had also made a fight like that, it was against Youssop Sor Thanikul (N°1 Lumpinee from 1979 till 1982), Stéphane was dominated and finally he turned the situation to his advantage, in fifth rounds he put KO the thai, a big memory!
A memory with Fabrice Allouche? 
His fight against Lataméne (For an European championship in 1993), a fight of crazy, Fabrice had taken the knocks of madness, it was knock out, and finally it put KO Lataméne. It’s this fights like that which make vibrate with incredible twists in the drama!
It is what makes the beauty of this sport? 
A beautiful memory with Khaled Hebieb? 
The best memory it is certainly the first European championship, that I had organized, against the Dutch Ramkisoen, a fighter of the Chakuriki Gym. Khaled had gained the belt and it was the first big title for the Derek!
And with Guillaume Kerner? 
His fight in Bercy against the thai Wanphadet which was Lumpinee Champion and Radja Champion, for the championship of the World, Guillaume lost in points but thai almost was KO on High Kick!
With Jaïd Seddak?
Jaïd he made so title that I do not any more manage to count them, it was the best in the category!
There were really many champions to the Derek? 
Yes, a lot, with Scalp also good memory for the fight against Lamkhong, there was also Joël Cesar who was very bright, it was powerful and technical, he did not miss to him much to be of the race of the great champions…
What was your best memory as trainer?
It is difficult, there was a lot, even in the small events I have good memories, there is far too much. But we are going to say one of the most striking it is the meeting of Dida against Dekkers!
Today you are installed in Thailand, you work over there?
Yes since three years
Of what you think of the thai Boxing today in France? 
I have more and more difficulty to follow the current events in France. But the problem at present it is because there is no structure. And regrettably it has been 30 years since it is like that, it is completely ” the mess”. A structure amounts and the foundations are hardly dry that all the world wants “its part of cake”, it never works, and it has been 30 years since it is like that. In France, I think that it will be difficult to make one day as for example in Holland, where they have beautiful events, very professional structures. Since Sami Kebchi (promoter), in France there is nothing more. If there had been no Sami Kebchi who organized big events, there would have been never this craze for the Thai boxing. But it is true that today it became difficult to organize when you have no big sponsor or television behind you. And the boxers of today demand pures which the organizers cannot pay. An organizer cannot count that on admission tickets, it is not possible, the box office it is just of the bonus…
In Thailand you are often going to see a fights? 
Yes often, I like to go to Lumpinee when there are big events. But I prefer to go to see the fights in the TV7, it is the ultimate, when you go to the TV7 you are never disappointed, you are always have beautiful fights, the boxers give themselves completely, they do not calculate. The problem of the fights with the great champions in Lumpinee and in Radja it is because there is too much stake, the fighters control themselves, control themselves, they do not release as in the TV7, generally in fourth rounds it is made in fifth rounds they turn, it is not the same as in the TV7, they are big champions in Lumpinee and in Radja, and the fights are better technically but the fights are not as well hard as in the TV7, often in the TV7 it is young people who “are hungry” and who want to show themselves. Every on sunday in the TV7, there are always big fights, in more it is free and we can see Pud Pad Noy, a legend, there are there every sunday !
You want to add anything? 
I have make the tour, well, I began with the karate, the judo then the muay thai then trainer and now I lived in Thailand, well, it is good…
I thank you for this interview and good luck for your projects
Thank to you
René Desjardins makes left the pioneers of the thai Boxing in France, this man passionate about Muay Thai formed and trained the biggest French champions of the 90s. In the same way as his former companion of gym Omar Benamar, the famous trainer of the Nemrod Gym, René Desjardins was also a trainer except standards, capable of picking up the best potential of a boxer to bring him to the highest level. Supported by his brother Antoine, together, hanging of long years, they trained and prepared the biggest fighters of the 90s, the golden age of French Muay Thai. Their gym the DEREK BOXING was a real factory to champion, in the 90s it was the gym references in France and in Europe, it became a mythical gym!
Fighters of the years 90/2000 of the DEREK BOXING:
Khaled Hebieb (World Champion Thai Boxing, Europe Champion Thai Boxing),
Jean-Claude Coralie (France Champion Thai Boxing),  Pascal Scalp (France Champion Thai Boxing), Jaïd Seddak (World Champion Thai Boxing, World Champion Kick Boxing, Europe Champion Thai Boxing, Europe Champion Kick Boxing),  Fabrice Allouche (World Champion Kick Boxing, Europe Champion Thai Boxing),  Stéphane Nikiéma (World Champion Thai Boxing, Europe Champion Thai Boxing),  Guillaume Kerner (World Champion Thai Boxing, Europe Champion Thai Boxing),  Joël Cesar (World Champion Thai Boxing),  Lahcene Brigui (France Champion Thai Boxing),  Totof (World Champion Thai Boxing, Europe Champion Thai Boxing),  Kamel Mayouf (Europe Champion Thai Boxing,  France Champion Thai Boxing), Christian Garros (Europe Champion Thai Boxing,  France Champion Thai Boxing), Abdoul Touré (Europe Champion Thai Boxing,  France Champion Thai Boxing), Dida Diafat (World Champion Thai Boxing, World Champion Kick Boxing)
Weight:  57 Kg
Number of fight:  50. 40 Wins. 10 Losses
Title: Europe Champion Kick Boxing. France Champion Thai Boxing. France Champion Junior Full Contact
DEREK Boxing 
Gymnase Béatrice Hess
43 av. du Général-Leclerc
93120 La Courneuve
Website :