Rob Kaman was born in Amsterdam on June 5, 1960. From a large family with seven children, his mother was a housewife and his father sold clothes in Amsterdam’s markets. A fiery young man, he started out by playing football. In the 1970’s in Holland it was the “star” sport of the country with a dream national team that was carried by their phenomenal champion “Johan Cruyff”. Holland were ranked among the best teams in the world. Young Rob Kaman played from 10 to 15 years old at one of the best-known clubs in the country, “Ajax Amsterdam”!
At 16, he stopped football to start in a self-defense sport, “Pentjak Silat” which is a fairly effective Indonesian martial art.
But it was around the age of seventeen that he fell in love with Thai boxing when he attended a boxing show in Amsterdam. After seeing the great champion “Lucien Carbin” fight, Rob Kaman said “it opened my eyes. I saw a complete sport, intelligent, combining speed and power and allowing to knock out your opponent! “
He joined the “Mejiro Gym”, a legendary gym which was run by the late Master Jan Plas (Thai boxing pioneer in Holland). At the time, the Mejiro Gym already included big names such as Lucien Carbin, Andre Brilleman, Fred Royers, Peter Van Os, Milo El Geubli and Tommy Van Der Berg.
After only a few months of practice, at 18 years old, Rob Kaman made his first fight in France in a event organized by Roger Paschy in stadium of Coubertin. It was 1978, his opponent was the great champion “Carillon” (Reigning French boxing European savate champion)!
Rob Kaman lost in points his fight. In fact, the loss was rather a positive trigger for Rob Kaman who decided to train even harder to beat his opponents. The young Rob Kaman then went on to have several victories by KO!
His first feat of arms was his victory against a great champion of the time, “Blinky Rodriguez” who was the cousin of the famous “Benny Urquidez. This knockout victory propelled him on to the international stage.
In the early 1980’s, Rob Kaman flew to Thailand for the first time. In the land of smiles, he discovered an atmosphere of Muay Thai from another planet compared to that in Europe…
He mainly trained at the famous “Sityodtong” camp which was located near Pattaya. His first sparrings were with the stars of the period “Samart Payakaroon” and “Kongtoranee Payakaroon”. His first fight in Thailand, Rob Kaman did it in Bangkok against a strong local champion “Dennoi”. The Dutchman won his match by KO!
Immediately, Rob Kaman was called upon again to fight in Bangkok against the formidable “Lakchart” (Radja Champion). Rob Kaman lost in points but his Thai experience won him a lot of fights on his return to Europe. Rob Kaman twice found champion Lakchart and knocked him out each time, in 1985 in Amsterdam and in 1987 in Japan!
On September 23, 1983 in Amsterdam, Rob Kaman met WKA World Middleweight Kickboxing Champion, American “Johnny Moncayo”. The world title was at play!
Throughout the fight, Rob Kaman literally slammed the American’s legs with destructive low kicks. After a terrible battle, Johnny Moncayo was beaten by a technical knockout. The American couldn’t stand on his feet anymore…
Rob Kaman obtained his first world champion title in Kickboxing!
“Made in Kaman” low kicks have started to hit the rings around the world. Because Rob Kaman was in control this technique to perfection.
On January 12, 1984 in Amsterdam, in Muay Thai style, he faced Payap Penchai who held the Thailand championship belt in – 69 Kg. Rob Kaman won just by points in front of the formidable Thai. Three years later, he found the Thai champion, and this time he won by KO!
The same year, in Switzerland, in Geneva, he became European Full Contact champion against Swiss Jean-Marc Tonus. Whether in Muay Thai, Kick Boxing or Full contact, Rob Kaman faced all the champions of these different disciplines and beat them all!
In 1983, in Muay Thai, he defeated by points the great champion of the time, the French Christian Bahfir, for the European title.
In 1985, in Hong Kong, in the rules of Muay Thai, he knocked out the Thai Samart Prasanmirt (Lumpinee Champion) and the Thai Lakchart in Amsterdam. In Kick Boxing, he beat by KO, American Larry McFadden and American Moncayo again, at home in Miami!
But that same year, in Paris, in Thai boxing, he lost on points against the superb Thai technician “Krongsak”. Krongsak arrived the day before from Bangkok and was nine kilos lighter than Rob Kaman. Thanks to his science of clinch, the Thai has control the power of the Dutch…
Rob Kaman unfortunately had a little slippage in his life, he fell for the robbery and served about two years in prison. Despite this unfortunate setback, he returned to the ring and won at the top of the hierarchy!
In 1987, he had a comeback fight against American Ernest Simmon, whom he beat in points. Then, he recovered a world belt in Kickboxing, the WKA belt against his compatriot Roger Hurd.
He retained his WKA World Championship title against talented youngster Ernesto Hoost.
Finally, in Muay Thai, he beat Thai Sittisak and again Thai Payap. That same year, Rob Kaman made a name for himself in Japan when he met the Thai Lakchart for the third time. He beat the thai by KO in the 1st round!
With this dazzling victory, Rob Kaman was quickly called back to the land of the rising sun where he often fought there. Rob Kaman faced Kickboxing England’s Kirkwood, Japan’s Hansu Premchai and Don Nakaya, American Carmichael, Mexican Santiago Garza, Irish’s Oreagan and Frenchman Dominique Siegler. Rob Kaman beat them all, he became a real star in Japan!
On April 9, 1989, the great Rob Kaman was beaten by his compatriot, Jan Wessels, a young boxer who was on the rise.
Later, Rob Kaman took his revenge on the young Batavian by knocking him out, in a match where the WKA Kickboxing World Championship title was at play!
At the start of 1990, Rob Kaman tried his hand at film by starring in the movie “Bloodfist” which was starred by former Full Contact world champion Don Wilson.
That year, Rob Kaman had a lot of fights against in particular the terrible Thai Changpuek Kiatsongrit (World Champion, 500 fights). The two champions have found themselves between the ropes of the ring four times in terrible battles. In Paris, the Thai won on points. In Holland, in Amsterdam, Rob Kaman won by KO Changpuek. In Bangkok, after a fierce fight, the Thai won in points. Finally, Rob Kaman beat Changpuek by KO in Japan!
Rob Kaman later said Changpuek has been one of the toughest opponents he has encountered in his entire career…
On June 30, 1990, in Japan, Rob Kaman defended his Kick Boxing World Championship title against puncher Peter Smit. The Dutchman Peter Smit was a tough boxer who evolved like Rob Kaman in several disciplines, Kick Boxing, Muay Thai and even Karate. Holder of the WKA European Kickboxing Championship title, Peter Smit was the challenger against world champion Rob Kaman. The fight was terrible and Peter Smit knocked out Rob Kaman in the 10th round!
Rob Kaman lost his title and a lot of people started saying that Rob Kaman was done…
But the Kick King was far from dead and he proved it by returning to Japan to beat Japanese Nishi by KO in first round!
On November 18, 1990 in Amsterdam, a big Muay Thai show was organized with the star match of the Dutchman Ernesto Hoost, new boxing star, against “The Dutch Man” Kaman. Ernesto Hoost was favored against Rob Kaman, who some reporters said was old and at the end of his career. The fight was daunting and Rob Kaman knocked out Ernesto Hoost in the fifth round. For many Kickboxing specialists, this match will remain the “fight of the century” in this category!
The King of the rings was back and he quickly recovered his crown.
At a superb event in Paris on June 29, 1991, Rob Kaman faced the new WKA world champion in the category, the Dutch Luc Verheye. Luc Verheye had beaten Peter Smit badly, he was a great puncher. From the start of the fight, Luc Verheye knocked Rob Kaman twice with his devastating fists. Rob Kaman has been hit hard. But with his mind out of the ordinary, he resisted and extended the battle by KO. The King has recovered his title!
A new big challenge has been offered to Rob Kaman. Confronted the legend of Full contact middleweight, the Canadian “Jean Yves Theriault” who had held the ISKA title since 1980!
The fight was to take place in Paris in the huge stadium of Bercy. But on December 20, 1991, it was not the Canadian legend that Rob Kaman met but the American “Rick Roufus”. Rick Roufus “The Jet”, was warned at the last moment. He was a great champion in the United States. But almost unknown in Europe. The American surprised by beating Rob Kaman. After twelve exceptional rounds, Rick Roufus won on points.
In January 1992, Rob Kaman returned to Japan to beat by KO, in the rules of Free Fight, the Japanese Nobuaki Kakuda. Rob Kaman won with a knee-to-floor technique.
In Japan, he also drew with heavyweight Satake, in a fight that was dominated entirely by Rob Kaman…
Finally, “the fight of the century” in Full contact was mounted thanks to the famous French promoter, Sami Kebchi. On June 20, 1992, in the stadium of Sports Marcel Cerdan de Levallois, full completely, the Dutch “Viking” faced the Canadian “The Ice Man”. Jean-Yves Theriault had been Full contact ISKA world champion for twelve years. This incredible puncher had knocked down 59 opponents by KO on his 66 fights won!
From the blow of the gong, Rob Kaman chained powerful middles on the flanks of the Canadian. Despite formidable fist combinations, the Canadian suffered for four rounds against the Viking. At the call of the fifth round, to the general amazement of the public, Jean-Yves Theriault stayed in his corner. Rob Kaman won by technical knockout. He thus became Full Contact World Champion by seizing the crown held by the Canadian since November 15, 1980!
Rob Kaman was at this point in his career at the top level. In the middleweight category, he was unbeatable. He owned the WKA Kick Boxing World Champion Belt, the ISKA Full Contact World Champion Belt and the Muay Thai World Champion Belt!
In Paris, on November 14, 1992, in Kick Boxing, The Dutsh Man fought a mad fight against the “lumberjack” Marek Piotrowski. Seriously injured in the right shin at the start of the fight, Rob Kaman managed to manage the match by destroying the Polish with destructive low kicks of the left leg. In the seventh round, Marek Piotrowski collapsed KO!
In 1993, Rob Kaman fought a little less because he appeared in two films with star Jean-Claude Van Damme “Maximum Risk” and “Double Team”. With his “face” and his boxing physique, Rob Kaman had the right profile to play “bad guys”. Rob Kaman was introduced by “Don Clovis”, his former manager, to Jean Claude Van Damme at a show in Paris. Mutual respect quickly established itself between these two great sportsmen.
On November 26, 1993, in Holland, Rob Kaman defended his title of world champion in Muay Thai against the great Dutch technician Rick Van Dan Vathorst. Rob Kaman knocked out the Dutch champion and proved to the raving crowd that after all these years he is still the best!
In Paris Bercy, February 5, 1994, in a big event signed again Sami Kebchi, the star match of the evening was the revenge between Rick Roufus and Rob Kaman in Full contact style. The fight was heralded as the “shock of the century”. But the clash was short-lived as “The Jet” knocked out Rob Kaman in the second round on a superb counter hook…
After the American champion’s feat, the two champions now have a great deal of respect for each other. But you should know that Rick Roufus has always refused to meet Rob Kaman in his main discipline, Kick Boxing…
The same year, Rob Kaman also fought in his favorite discipline, Kick Boxing and he beat the great European light heavyweight champion, the French Jérôme Turcan!
In the city of Marseille, in Kickboxing, on November 12, 1994, The Dutshe Man, at 34 years old, made short work of his young compatriot, the rough Orlando Breinburg, defeating him by KO in the third round.
On January 7, 1995, in Paris, the first European “100,000 dollars” light heavyweight tournament was organized in Thai boxing. The promoter Sami Kebchi had taken the formula of the tournament of 100,000 Japanese dollars which worked very hard in the land of the rising sun. This knockout tournament was invented by famous Japanese promoter Kazuyoshi Ishii, the founder of the K1 World Grand Prix.
The contenders for the final victory were eight experienced light heavyweights who clashed bluntly. In the quarterfinals, Rob Kaman met American Lavelle Robinson. The fight did not last long, the American fell to the ground in the first round, his legs destroyed by the powerful low-kicks of the Viking rings.
For the semi-final, Rob Kaman had a mind-blowing match against Australian “Costas Pedritis”, a true Muay Thai warrior. They had three hellish rounds that got the crowd going. Rob Kaman just won on points.
In the final, Rob Kaman caught up with Frenchman Jérôme Turcan, whom he had already beaten last year. Jérôme Turcan arrived in this final fresher than the Dutchman. Indeed, the French champion had defeated his two opponents by knockout in the first round while Rob Kaman had expended a lot of energy in his explosive fight against Costas Pedritis. From the start of the match, Jérôme Turcan put the pressure on with his formidable Boxing, the “old” Rob Kaman was in great difficulty. But once again, the exceptional mentality of the Viking enabled him to resist the onslaught of the French. The low kicks and especially the clinch knees of Rob Kaman destabilized Jérôme Turcan. In the fourth round, on a magnificent high-kick, Rob Kaman brought the French down. Jérôme Turcan was counted “8”, he returned to the fight but was immediately retouched by the same technique. Again counted adrift, Jérôme Turcan was stopped by the referee. Rob Kaman was crowned King of this first big tournament!
A rematch against Australian Costas Pedritis took place in Paris as some people said the Australian champion won against Rob Kaman in the 100,000 $ tournament. But the fight between the two champions was declared a “no contest” because of a header from Costas Pedritis which injured Rob Kaman…
On June 24, in Australia, Rob Kaman reunited with Costas Pedritis in Muay Thai style. This time at home, the Australian won in points.
In 1996, after an exceptionally long career, the great Rob Kaman decided to hang up the gloves.
Rob Kaman shot in the cinema again with Jean-Claude Van Dam, notably in “The Legionnaire” a film which was released in 1998.
Then, Rob Kaman made his “jubilee”, on October 24, 1999, against the young Russian champion “Alexy Ignashov”. Rob Kaman won this match on points. But as a gentleman of the rings, the Dutchman offered his trophy to the Russian saying “he’s the real winner”!
Rob Kaman has 112 fights to his credit for 97 victories including 77 by KO with 9 world champion titles in Thai Boxing, Kick Boxing and Full Contact!
The end of an era ended with that of the now legendary Viking of the rings, Rob Kaman aka “The Dutche Man”. The name of Kickboxing King Rob Kaman is etched forever among the fighters of the century!
BY SERGE TREFEU