RICO VERHOEVEN : Glory super heavy weight champion
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Rico Verhoeven
« Always go to the edge”

 

9 victories, 1 controversial defeat since 2012. Rico Verhoeven fought everybody who wanted to. He beat them all ! The Glory super heavy weight champion has no one sized for him today. At only 26, he is the best kickboxer of the planet, with no contest !!! He dreamt it. He did it ! And, now, what’s next ? MMA ?

By Ludovic Mauchien, for Double D

 

December 4th, 2015, Glory 26 in Amsterdam. Rico Verhoeven fights Romanian Benjamin Adegbuyi for the 2nd time in 6 months, for the super heavy weight title. As usual, probably to shut down the malicious voices, the Dutchman accepted the revenge.

For him, it was not one. Same as he did previously with Errol Zimmerman and Daniel Ghita, he wanted to shut down the gossips once for all. And history repeated itself. After Zimmerman (June 2013 and February 2015) and Ghita (October 2013 and June 2014), Adegbuyi took the lesson from the master a 2nd time on the row : KO 1st round ! Next one !…

But this is probably the only problem, if it is one, that Rico Verhoeven encounters. It seems that the current heavyweight generation is not as strong as the previous one, the Kick-boxing golden age one, and that our champion misses quite adversity.

In ant case, he is the worthy heir of Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hoost, Jerome Le Banner, Remy Bonjasky, Semmy Schilt… They all have accepted him, and also cursed him.

But, besides that, what else?… He dreamt of becoming a professional kick-boxer… He is. He dreamt of being the champion, the best one… He is. And our man is quite spoiled by nature. Besides his Titan body (6,5 ft ; 255 lb), he is good looking and has a charming face that would break the heart of the most short-sighted woman. His wife gave him 2 beautiful girls (4,5 years and 11 months). At 26, Rico Verhoeven is an overjoyed daddy, man and champion. And, for sure, it’s not only due to luck.

 


Why have you chosen kickboxing?

The reason is my father. He started kyokushin and then he got injured on his leg. He stopped competition and rest for over a year. So, he started doing fitness, boxing and kick-boxing. Some people asked him why he didn’t teach. He said why not. From this moment, he put me to the Gym and to kick-boxing as well. I was 6. He was teaching kick-boxing in a kyokushin way, from his own vision of both. I am not a black belt. My father was.

 

Is he still your trainer ?

Not anymore. I’ve got different ones. My head coach, who is my pure kick-boxing trainer, is Dennis Krauweel. I’ve also got a power trainer, a fitness coach, John Van Dijk and a mental coach, Alviar Lima, who used to be fighter. I also work with Peter Fury as my boxing trainer (Tyson Fury’s father, the new world heavy weight world champion in boxing). A guy also helps me with explosion (sprints…).

 

Have you any models in kickboxing?

Definitely ! When I was like 8 years old, I saw Peter Aerts becoming K-1 World champion for the 2nd time. He definitely gave me inspiration to want to become a kick-boxer as well. I saw him win that belt. I saw all those people going crazy. I say : “yeah ! Hey man, I want that ! It looks cool”. It was just my dream. Years later, when I was around 23, I became champion myself so it was perfect. My dream was coming true.

 

You fought against Peter Aerts. How was it in your head before ?

It was crazy, man ! You know, he was my idol… He brought me to kick-boxing. He gave me the dream to become a champion. Fight a man like him, you know… it’s amazing. It was a very special moment.

 

Have you met him before ?

Of course. We have seen each other many times.

 

It’s not easy to fight somebody you know and respect, isn’t it ?

No ! Definitely not. But, at the moment you step into the ring, you are on my way, in my dream, in my taking care of my family, in my going one step further, to the next level. So, it doesn’t matter who is in front of me, he has to step aside.

 

Would you have liked to fight 10-15 years ago ?

Yes, of course. It would have been a dream. That was the time when there were many good heavyweights. Today, there are a lot less good ones. It is what it is. So it would have been cool but I am now in this position : “I am the best and I am enjoying this moment”.

 

Do you consider yourself as the Dutch kick-boxing school heir, the “spiritual son” of Aerts, Kaman, Hoost, Bonjasky…?

Yeah, definitely ! I am the best heavyweight kick-boxer today in the world. I fought everybody and there is no doubt for me. What can people say ? Every opponent they gave me, I fought him, I beat him. So, I think I proved I am the best.

 

What do you think of Jerome Le Banner?

He is a great fighter. He did some good stuff. He definitely did some good fights. I respect him.

 

You lost against Semmy Schilt in December 2012. Would you have liked a revenge ?

No, not really. For me, this was a really inspiring fight. That fight gave me the mental strength to know I was capable of being a champion. I lost on points and Semmy Schilt just knocked so many guys out. For me, it was like : “hey, if this guy doesn’t knock me out, who will ?” Just focus and everything will fall to the right place. And it did. For me, mentally, that was a really important fight.

 

Since, you registered only one defeat (on January 2015) in Kunlun, in China. What happened there, considering Kunlun has a bad reputation for foreigners ?

It was not really a good fight. Mentally, there was so much going on. My wife was pregnant. She was about to have a baby. When I was there, she was transported to the hospital. It was too much stuff around that I did not focus on training. For me, it was not the good moment to fight there but I took it and I lost on points. I get screwed on some stuff, like an 8 count… But it is what it is. I don’t cry about it. Normally, I should just kick this guy ass. But, mentally, I was not in the right place.

 

Will you fight again in Kunlun ?

No, I don’t think so.

 

On December 4th, you successfully defended your Glory belt for the 3rd time, the 2nd one in a 6 month time against Benjamin Adegbuyi. Have you prepared something special for this 2nd fight ?

Not really. We have a certain way to prepare ourselves and that works for me. We just try to change small stuff, like game plan stuff, considering the different opponents. But the way of training doesn’t change that much because I think I have the right way to get fit.

 

Tell us about your weekly training, in your « Super pro sports center »…

On Monday, I start early in the morning with a conditioning kick-boxing training. Late in the afternoon, I do a power training. On Tuesday, I do sparring and, in the evening, I do running. On Wednesday, I do power training. On Thursday, I do sparring and explosion. On Friday, I do boxing training and conditioning. On Saturday, I do power training. And on Sunday, I do running and explosive work. It’s something like 3 to 4 hours a day. It’s a busy week.

 

You fought once in boxing and once in MMA. Would you like to keep going on these ways ?

I like boxing but, for me, I like kicking. So, if I just do boxing, I would probably miss the kicking too much. So, I think more about MMA. For me, it’s new. I have been in Kick-boxing since I am 6 years old, so it’s like over 20 years. For me, MMA is new. It’s fun. It gets me excited. It’s like a new adventure. I am probably going to do some more MMA in the future.

 

Have you started to train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ?

Yeah, of course. Jiu Jitsu, grappling, wrestling… All that stuff. Like 4 years ago, I was really intensively busy with it. And, then, I started again one year ago.

 

 

You train with Tyson Fury, le vainqueur de Vladimir Klitschko’s winner and new heavyweight world champion in boxing. Did he bring you a lot in boxing ?

Yeah, definitely. I know Tyson for 4 years now. He is an amazing guy. He is an amazing fighter. We just helped each other. And, of course, in the boxing part, he taught me so much. It’s a different game than kick-boxing. So I tried to implement every aspect of boxing I could into my kick-boxing game. It was good. We didn’t train together 4 years on the row. Intensively, it was something like one year and a half.

 

What advice would you give to unknown kickboxers ?

What I tell them the most : be hard on yourself, don’t feel sorry for yourself. When you are having a hard training, never feel sorry for yourself like : “oh, I am so tired”… No. Always go to the limit, go to the edge. That’s the most important. That’s where fights get won. A lot of people get sorry for themselves. They try to train hard but, when they feel tired, they feel sorry for themselves and they try to save some energy. And then, when the training is finished, they are like : “maybe I could have been further”. But they didn’t and the training is already finished. It’s only when you are training that you condition yourself. So you have to make sure that you always go 100%.

 

And now? What’s next ? What fighters would you like to fight now ?

I am not sure, I am not sure… Right now, I am just focusing on relaxing, spending time with my family. I have been so busy because I jumped from the MMA preparation into this kick-boxing preparation. So I have been preparing and training hard since 4 months. I think I deserve some vacations. I will see what 2016 brings me.

PHOTOS : James Law for Glory

 

 

 

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