Interview of ROB KAMAN by Serge TREFEU (2010)
Serge TREFEU: Hello ROB, thank you for grant me this interview. You have made a formidable career in Kickboxing, let us begin with the beginning to enlighten us on what urged you to practise a combat sport.
You began the sport with the football which you practised during several years, why you stopped the football to dedicate yourself to the combat sports?
ROB KAMAN: I was more attracted to individual sports and it was Kick Boxing or Thai boxing
You arise from a large family, what is what you had brothers who boxed?
No, I did not have brothers that boxed
Is it true that you had the love at first sight for the Thai boxing by seeing a fight of the great champion Lucien Carbin?
You grew in Amsterdam, what is what in your district in the time there were boxing gyms?
There were 4 or 5 main gyms in the district I grew up in like Chakuriki and Mejiro Gym and a couple of others…
Your first gym was famous Méjiro Gym, when you began in this gym there were already champions for Lucien Carbin, André Brilleman, Fred Royers, Peter V. Os, Milo el Geubli and Tommy V.D. Berg, do you already know these fighters?
Yes, we were fighters from the same generation some of them were famous already, some of them became famous later…
How was your first meeting with Jan Plas, the trainer of Méjiro Gym?
After 3 months training with Lucien Carbin, I entered Mejiro Gym and met Jan Plas there. He was a funny guy but also a very congruent trainer!
Jan Plas quickly smelled that you had “the soul of a warrior” because he made you fight only after a few months of training, specifically against Carillon, the Europe champion of Savate of time. You remember this first fight in France in Paris?
Yes, I do. It was a hard fight and I ended up losing on points but he couldn’t walk anymore because of my famous leg kicks…
After several victorious fights you face Blinky Rodriguez (cousin of the famous Benny Urquidez). You beat him by KO, what in this victory made you become aware that you were going to make a big international career?
By beating somebody on that level, I understood that I was part of the top fighters in the world!
In 83 you leave for the first time for Thailand, can you tell us your first impressions of this country and especially your first sensations of a boxing ring of Bangkok?
After having experienced Europe, Thailand was a new eye-opener, I thought I had seen it all but fighting in Thailand, specially Bangkok, is a complete different world. The intensity of the crowd and pressure is enormous and I had to learn to deal with that as well as the intensity of the Thai fighters
During your first journeys in Thailand did you train in a camp before your fights or you came simply to fight and you come back immediately in Holland?
Both. Sometimes I stayed, sometimes I left immediately
In the time little foreigner trainings in camps in Thailand, I believe that you remained some time in famous Sityodtong Gym with the “Star” of time Samart Payakaroon. Which memory you have of this champion?
Samart was an extraordinary fighter with great push kicks and boxing skills. He was an all round champion and it was fascinating to watch him fight. He had charisma and he knew how to satisfy the audience
You often trained with Samart and his brother Cantaloni?
Yes, I did but they were lighter in weight so I had also different training partners, mostly Europeans
It is in Thailand where you perfected your redoubtable technique with low kick?
No, I perfected it in Holland, especially with Jan Plas and Lucien Carbin
In the time your technique of low kick had become so famous that in Europe we said “low kick in Kaman”, for control this technique in the perfection you worked a lot or it came to you naturally?
I used to play soccer and it looked a lot like a penalty or a corner (Laugh). No, I really worked on it on the technical and timing part. I made it my specialty, especially against good punchers
When you fought in Muay Thai you did not often use the techniques of clinch, the grabs and the projections, why, is what that is because you more preferred to fight with the rules of the Kickboxing?
Because I prefer to clinch with women (Laugh). No, at that time I wasn’t so attracted to the clinching part…
To fight with the techniques of elbows you liked?
Yes, didn’t bother me
What is for you the most effective technique in Kickboxing?
Whatever you are good at. I think it’s different for everybody. I prefer leg kicks and elbows
How many times you fought in Thailand?
I think I fought 5 or 6 times in Thailand.
You met 4 times the redoubtable Thai Changpuek Kiatsongrit, what is your best fight in front of him and what do you think of this opponent?
I still remember all the bruises on the train station in Paris after fighting him. My forearms and shins were black and blue and I had to travel with my suitcases.
It’s a painful memory (Laugh). He was a very strong, hard kicker and he had a very good chin!
You met some Thai champions as Changpuek, Krongsak, Lakchart, Payap, Sittisak, which one gave you most difficulty to fight?
Lakchart, Payap and Changpuek gave me a hard time. I think Changpuek was the most difficult to fight with…
Your first title important, World champion of Kickboxing, you gain him in 1983 against John Moncayo, You destroyed these legs with your low kicks, you knew that Moncayo was rather specialist of the Full-contact karate, without blow in legs?
Yes but he did fight with leg kicks, but not as much as me…
In Full-contact you gained your first title in 1984, Champion of Europe against Jean Marc Tonus, you liked fighting in this style of boxing?
Yes I had no problem with it, but I preferred Thai or kickboxing
You fought in Kickboxing, in Thai Boxing, in Full-contact but what is what you have already fought in Savate and Boxing or in another style of fight?
Yes, I did Pentjak Silak and Free fights
In what discipline you most liked fighting?
One of your first ones big shock was in 1987 against your compatriot Ernesto Hoost whom you beat in points, then in 1990 you finds again him and you beat him again but by KO, this fight in 1990 was elected by many specialist the best fight ever seen in Holland. Can you return on this memorable fight and of what do you think of Ernesto Hoost?
Ernesto is one of the most complete and dangerous fighters of the world. That’s why after my loss against Peter Smit, it was a big challenge to fight Ernesto Hoost again. The fight went back and forth and Ernesto was ahead on points, until he made the mistake to make that spinning back kick. It irritated me and gave me the adrenaline to knock him out…
The same year in 90 you had just lost against Changpuek and Peter Smit, certain persons said that you were finished but you demonstrated the opposite by beating Hoost, the star of moment. Come back to the highest top after defeats, it is one of your big strengths during your career, mentally how you managed to manage this state of mind?
By using the losses as a motivation to train harder and being more focused instead of allowing the losses to make me insecure or weaker…
What is for you the secret to acquire “the mental strength” of a great champion?
Not allowing the negative thoughts and experiences to overrule your focus
You fought a lot in France and French audience always liked your fights. In France you met big champions as Krongsak, Changpuek, Luc Verheye, Rick Roufus, Jean-Yves Thériault, Marek Piotrowski, you have make the Tournament of 100 000 dollars, you have good memories of France?
The French audience is very fair and just, they respect good fighters a lot
Do you know French boxers?
I know Jaid, Dida, Danny Bill, and Jerome Turcan
You also a lot fought in Japan, which do you think of Japanese audience?
I had 26 fights in Japan and just one loss against Peters Smit, so that stayed in my mind. The Japanese audience is the quietest audience there is. You just hear small “ooh” or “aah” noises, nothing outrageous. It’s funny to me
Today what is that you keep up the new of Kickboxing and the Muay Thai, of what do you think of the current state of the Kickboxing and of the Thai Boxing in the world?
The average level is pretty high in the world even though I’m not fully updated on the current state of Kick or Thai boxing
What is your best memory of boxing of all your career?
One of my best memories is winning over Jean Yves Theriault because it was on Full contact rules and he was the best. And winning the K2 tournament in Paris of $ 100 000!
And the worst?
Losing by knock out of Rick Roufus
What was your most tough opponent?
Many of the Thai fighters, Jerome Turcan as well, Tosca Pedritis and Rick Roufus…
During your long career of fighting have you a particular anecdote to be told us, anything unusual who arrived at you during a fight or before?
Many but will expose them in the movie about my life…
In the United States you have trained the fighters of MMA, where you have fought in Free Fight? And of what do you think of this style of fight?
Yes I fought Free Fight once or twice in Japan. I still prefer stand up fighting better then the ground game
Today you created a style of fitness which is called the KABOA, can you say to us what is exactly Kaboa and how you had the idea to create this style of stretching?
Kaboa is a work-out that brings you closer or back to your authentic self. By releasing and flushing the negative emotions or energy out of your body, it brings you back to the essence of life. After being a fighter I had to deal on a different way with my emotions that drove me as a fighter. To release the turmoil I created this mixture of exercises to let go of these emotions and reprogram them for harmony
You organize seminars of Kaboa?
Yes, often mixed with kick boxing
You would also like to organize seminars of Thai Boxing and Kick Boxing, for example in France?
Yes, I have one coming up on the 2nd and 3rd of October in Paris
We saw you played in several action movies as Legionnaire, Double Team, Maximum Risk, Bloodfist, actor it is something that you like making? You have future plans in the movie?
Yes, I like acting in movies. I will continue also with a movie about my life
You know well Jean-Claude Van Damme to have shot several times with him, that do you think of the fight which is going to get organized between Jean-Claude and the former Thai champion Somrack Khamsing?
He should call me to train him so he makes a good impression. I think I have the right tools and experience to help him out
You always lived in the United States, you are married, have you children?
I have been married once and I have one son out of a previous relationship with a Thai woman
You want to add anything?
Kaman is BACK! With his KAMAN 101 training methods and will soon be online plus his KABOA work-out. Jean Claude Van Damme, contact me! If you want to beat this guy! (Laugh) I’m serious!
Thank you very much for this interview and good luck for all your projects future!
Rob KAMAN is a live legend of boxing rings, “The Dutch Man” to belong to “fighters of the century” in the same way as her compatriot Ramon DEKKERS. Kaman and Dekkers is certainly both Dutch champions who the most marked the story of the Kickboxing worldwide.
The style Kaman with its lows kick of woodcutter inspired a lot of European boxers but it is especially its exceptional fighting spirit which forced the admiration everywhere where it fought. His fights of anthologies against Ernesto Hoost, Changpuek Kiatsongrit, Rick Roufus, John Moncayo, Peter Smit, Luc Verheye, Jean-Yves Theriault, Marek Piotrowsky, Tosca Pedritis to quote only the most known make henceforth among the best confrontations of all the story of the Kickboxing!
Weight: 80 Kg
Number of fights: 113. 98 wins (78 KO). 12 Losses. 1 Draw. 2 No contest
Title: K-2 France Grand Prix ’95Champion in Thai Boxing, I.S.K.A. Oriental Rules Light Heavyweight World Champion, I.S.K.A. Full Contact Super Middleweight World Champion, W.K.A. Super Light Heavyweight World Champion in Kick Boxing, W.K.A. Junior Light Heavyweight World Champion in Kick Boxing, I.K.B.F. World Champion in Kick Boxing, I.M.T.F.(currently I.M.F.) Light Heavyweight World Champion in Thai Boxing, W.K.A. Middleweight World Champion in Kick Boxing, P.K.A. Full Contact European Champion