(Boon [far right] with a few of his Golden Glory brothers.)
If you’ve followed kickboxing and MMA for a while, chances are you’re familiar with Golden Glory thanks in large part to fighters like Alistair Overeem, Semmy Schilt, Marloes Coenen, Siyar Bahadurzada, Gokhan Saki and Sergey Kharitonov.
It’s behind the scenes, however, where several key players from coaches Cor Hemmers and Martijn de Jong to founders Ron Nyqvist, Frederico Lapenda and Bas Boon make Golden Glory run like a well oiled machine.
We recently spoke with Bas Boon about the past present and future of his esteemed Dutch-based “fight family.”
Here’s what he had to say:
First off Bas, thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
When did you first get involved with martial arts and kickboxing?
At age 15.
Did you train?
Yes, I trained in tae kwon do and at age 16 I began training in kickboxing. I started together with Peter Aerts. A seminar with Rob Kaman got me hooked. I fought 19 fights and won 17 in a style called PKA. You had to kick eight times above the belt to win. There were not too many low kick fights at that time. I had a knee injury when I was 17 and it got to a point were I stopped fighting and I concentrated on my business. I started a small martial arts store when I was 17.
Do you find that a lot of fans from North America are surprised when they hear about how long Golden Glory has been around and just how deep its roots are entwined in the highest levels of MMA and kickboxing from current members of the team to guys like Bas Rutten (through Cor Hemmers), Rob Kaman, Gilbert Yvel, Peter Aerts, the Dekkers brothers, Heath Herring etc…etc?
I have been together with Cor Hemmers for over 26 years. We promoted fights together like the classics Peter Aerts vs. Maurice Smith, Aerts vs. Frank Lobman and Ballentine vs. Dekkers. I produced about 400 fighting shows. In that period you get a lot of knowhow and I know that when a formula works to keep this going. The only two fighters who went their own way after some years with Golden Glory were Heath Herring and Gilbert Yvel. We wished them luck with their future careers. I admit it is quit unique to have a team that has worked together for almost 12 years and still everybody is together.
Your team is known for primarily as kickboxing specialists because of the K-1 pedigrees of a number of your fighters. Has it been a difficult to convince people that you are both a well-rounded MMA AND a kickboxing team?
Not really. We have Sergey Kharitonov who struggled with a long lasting shoulder injury, but is now fit to fight MMA and kickboxing. We have John Olav Einemo who suffered an injury but is fit to fight MMA again. Siyar Bahadurza defended his Shooto world title belt in Brazil by winning by KO in round one and he did the same at a PTA event, winning his fight by KO in round one. Alistair destroyed Brett Rogers for the Strikeforce world title defense bout and won the K-1 World Grand Prix. Semmy has already promised me that he is hungry to win a fifth K-1 GP belt and then wants to win a title in the UFC or Dream. Marloes Coenen won the Strikeforce women’s world title and has defended it. We convince people by beating our opponents and fighting as much as we can worldwide.
We know who the fighters are. Who are the people who make up the business and training sides of Team Golden Glory?
I handle most of the business, but I do consult a lot with Cor Hemmers and other trainers and people who were involved from the start. I am the person who will look after the contracts and take care of flights, seminars, TV interviews, media appearances, social media, production etc.
Besides your well-known champions like Alistair, Marloes, Siyar and Semmy, what other champions has Golden Glory produced?
We are working on bringing Kharitonov and John Olav Einemo back into the MMA world. Krista Flemming was world champion in kickboxing. Nieky Holzken became the K-1 Max champion in Sweden. Now Robin van Roosmalen and Max are both 21-year-old 70 kg talents who we will see fighting in the K-1 and Glory events next year. Heath Herring won the WVTC9 in Aruba. Chalid Arrab en Stefan Leko won the K-1 Las Vegas GP. Gokhan Saki won the K-1 Hawaii GP and multiple Thai/Kickboxing world titles. Errol Zimmerman won the K-1 GP in Amsterdam, just to name a few.
A little known fact is that the founders of GG were also responsible for creating the International Vale Tudo Championships (IVC). What role did the experience of promoting the IVC play in establishing Team Golden Glory?
My long time business partner Frederico Lapenda who I produce movies with in Hollywood was the founder of the WVTC. During the event in Aruba the idea was created to start an elite fighting team, and as such, Golden Glory was born.
In your opinion, which fighter has progressed the most from the first day they walked into the gym until now?
I must say Alistair Overeem, by far. Semmy progressed a lot in his boxing and so did Siyar, but overall, Alistair has improved the most.
A lot of camps have a rule that teammates will never fight each other. What is Golden Glory’s stance on teammate versus teammate bouts?
We fight each other every day in the gym. Semmy already fought Errol in K-1 and Karaev fought Chalid, so no problem. It becomes an extra match to see who is GG’s strongest fighter.
It’s been said that the best teams are like family. Seeing footage of Marloes and Alistair’s mom waiting with fans at the airport in Amsterdam for his triumphant return after winning his Strikeforce title and seeing the in-ring team celebrations at events like the Glory MMA and kickboxing event you held recently, it’s obvious that your fighters aren’t just training partners. Do you see them as your family members?
Yes it is one big family and even if some of us do not train together, they all fight proudly under the banner of Golden Glory. The good thing is that Semmy Schilt is the man to beat at this moment and he prepares in Golden Glory Zuid Laren in Holland and Golden Glory Romania. Alistair Overeem prepares at Golden Glory Breda in Holland. It would have been a real battle if they had met in the K-1 finals. We sometimes talk crap about each other. In Breda they always say that they will beat the crap out of each other if they would meet in the half-finals or finals. It’s the honor of who is the best GG fighter too. They do this in the gym every week – beating each other up.
You recently made your United Glory events available through pay-per-view purchase via YouTube. Prior to that they were free. What made you decide to stream past Glory show for free when you could have definitely charged for them?
We want to make it more popular and we want everybody to know that Glory is a very high quality produced show that will compete in the future with any other big fight promoter in the universe. Martijn de Jong and Bert Ditmans are the driving force to promote these glory events. I work more in the production and distribution side of it, like making TV deals and help together with Cor Hemmers and some partners with the matchmaking.
I’m from a small town in Ontario, Canada just outside of Toronto – the Canadian city Dana White calls the Mecca for MMA fans and where the sport was recently sanctioned. Having covered MMA for several years in Canada, I’m sure a show like yours would do well here. Have you considered bringing Glory events or gyms to other locations like Canada?
We are rapidly extending with the opening of GG gyms around the world, recently after Golden Glory Romania and Golden Glory Pattaya Thailand we have opened a Golden Glory gym in Berlin Germany. The beginning of next year Golden Glory California will open and we have serious talks for Golden Glory Dubai and Moscow. If a co-promotion can be done with somebody in Canada, we are all ears.
Can we expect to see more recognizable Golden Glory fighters like Gokhan and Siyar on future Glory cards?
Yes that’s the purpose of the Glory events to create a platform to have our use stable of talented fighter fight on a regular basis.
You recently revealed some details about the Golden Glory satellite location that you are opening in California. Will it be open to the public or is it by invitation only?
It will be open for the public and there will be a professional section in the future.
Alistair’s web-based documentary series “The Reem” is incredible from the cinematography right down to the choice of music. Are there plans to make similar series for other Golden Glory fighters?
It is very expensive to have camera people fly with us all over the world. This is a childhood friend of Alistair and there is a special bond with the team as well. As you could see in the Thailand episode other GG fighters were also interacting with the camera. This is a huge job and the large amount of hours and efforts put into in this documentary is crazy.
A lot of fighters seem to be spending time with other camps to fill in gaps in areas of their game that need work. Do you host fighters from other teams for training camps or do you prefer to keep your cards close as not to reveal any Golden Glory training secrets?
No we do not, only fighters who have signed a management deal. I consider it very unprofessional to help fighters with a different management to then find out that two years later it will be your opponent in some big MMA/kickboxing show.
Considering you are based out of Holland where you helped put Dutch kickboxers and MMA on the map, is it frustrating to think of all of the opposition you’ve encountered from politicians from the earliest days of the Cage Fighting Championships (CFC) to the Glory event you held in October?
Its politics we just have to deal with this. The UFC hired former state athletic employee Marc to only work for the UFC and get the UFC’s shows sectioned in as much states as possible. Europe works different, but overall they make it more and more difficult to promote events in Holland. I am concentrating on the worldwide business of Golden Glory. I run the Golden Glory Pattaya gym and am closely involved in a project called “Fight Game” which is a clothing company that is currently one of the biggest sponsors of Golden Glory. I have more interesting projects I am working on and do not want to spend time in politics which use fighting sports to gain popular interest for their own agendas. I like to keep busy with positive things.
Where do kickboxing and MMA rank in Holland in comparison to other popular sports like football and ice hockey?
Soccer is number one but then fighting sports for sure, no other sport gets 20.000 people for a sports event in Holland.
If you could predict a Golden Glory fighter who will likely be turning heads in the near future, who would you say it would be?
Philp Verlinden and Robin van Roosmalen and Russian fighters Max and Kharitonov will be more and more in the news soon.
What’s next for Golden Glory in 2011?
Alistair fighting Werdum, Semmy back in MMA in UFC or Dream, Kharitonov in Strikeforce, Marloes and Siyar in Strikeforce and there is so much more coming.
Again, Bas, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. We wish you continued success in 2011 and look forward to talking to you again in the future.
Thank you. I wish everybody good health and happiness keep training and make your wishes become reality as a fighter.