Exclusive | Remy Bonjasky Talks Glory 5, Tyrone Spong, His Future in Kickboxing, and Much More
“Somewhere there will be a knockout. I don’t think it will last to the end of the fight, because I want to knock him out, and he wants to knock me out. I don’t want to go to a decision,” stated Remy Bonjasky regarding his upcoming fight with Tyrone Spong at Glory 5 in London later this month.
BJPenn.com’s Kinch had the opportunity to speak with the K-1 legend earlier this week. Remy Bonjasky looks to keep his recent momentum going following a hiatus from kickboxing, and a win over Spong on March 23rd would be another step in the right direction. Bonjasky told us, “I was off for two and a half years; they (Glory) asked me to come back for a period of fighting, because they wanted to build up the organization again, and make it as big or even bigger than K-1. They asked me for that, and I said OK. We started working on it.”
When we asked Remy if it was an injury, or lack of drive that kept him from competing from late 2009 through mid 2012, “The Flying Dutchman” stated, “It was all by choice, I mean they asked me to fight, and for me, the feeling like I was finished wasn’t there. I wanted to continue, but in 2009 I made a decision to stop fighting because of an injury. And when I came back I thought, ‘hey let’s do it now.’ Because if I wanted to do it in let’s say 4-5 years, it wouldn’t be possible anymore. So I thought let me take my chance now and make a comeback for a couple of years before I stop fighting.” Any kickboxing fan should be excited by the news that Bonjasky decided to come back to competition in 2012. We asked what injury had the three-time K-1 Grand Prix champ considering retirement, Remy went on to say, “It was an eye injury that made me stop, I didn’t want to take the chance anymore. But after two and a half years I thought, hey why not.”
Bonjasky says he is happy, healthy, and ready to go at Glory 5. BJPenn.com asked how his training camp was going for this bout. Remy responded, “Training has been going good. I am preparing myself for a strong opponent.” In regard to how he is training differently for an aggressive opponent like Tyrone Spong, Remy tells us, “Well the thing that we used to do was train two times a day, but now looking at my age, we have changed the training to be effective during the fight, and not be worn out before we are fighting. But fighting against Tyrone Spong, I am working very hard on throwing good combinations, the punch-kick to low kick and all that, you know the Dutch style. Since coming to heavyweight he’s been a lot slower, but has more power in his punches and kicks. So I need to score points, keep moving and do my thing. I think that is going to be the difference in this fight.” Bonjasky has spent his entire career competing at super heavyweight and continued with, “I am used to this weight, this is my normal weight, I will probably be this weight when I am done fighting, and he is not originally a heavyweight.” Making it clear that he feels Spong is undersized for the weight class, and will be looking to capitalize on it.
When asked about Spong’s recent venture into the mixed martial arts realm, Bonjasky had nothing but high hopes for his opponent’s newly found ambitions, stating, “That is good step for him. He is living in the states, and I think that is the place he needs to be if he wants to be an MMA fighter. I think he made a good step; he is fighting pretty well now in MMA. I saw one fight of him, it wasn’t the best opponent, but they will build him up and hopefully get a better opponent to see what he is made of.” Kinch went on to ask Remy if he feels Spong’s focus will play a factor in their fight. He replied, “Well there are a couple fighters that tried it and succeeded. Like Mirko and Alistair, so maybe he is the next that will fight in different categories and different disciplines. So if he puts his mind to it he will succeed but if he doesn’t, he will fail in both disciplines.”
A win over Tyrone Spong on March 23rd would be a big statement for Bonjasky. We asked what he would like next assuming he beats Spong, and Remy gave us insight as to his ultimate goal going forward. Remy says, “I don’t know who is going to be next, I think I need to be focused on the final. That is my biggest focus. To win the tournament once more, that would be a great thing for my record.” Another Grand Prix victory would be another great achievement to his already impressive list of accolades, and could cement Bonjasky’s legacy among the kickboxing greats like Peter Aerts and Enersto Hoost forever. Kickboxing fans on the other hand, are hoping for a long-awaited rematch against one of the sport’s most exciting and controversial combatants, Badr Hari.
Hari, recently released from prison following a plethora of alleged assault charges, makes his long-awaited kickboxing return in Zagreb, Croatia next week, and fans have been clamoring for a rematch between the two tacticians. We asked if a rematch with Badr Hari was on Bonjasky’s radar, and he tells BJPenn.com, “Well it’s not on my radar, but I’m sure the promoters are looking up to that fight, and all the fans, because a lot of fans keep asking me, ‘hey is the rematch going to happen, you against badr?’ So I don’t know what is going to happen, but if everything is set, and everything is right, there will be a rematch but we don’t know yet.” The fight between Bonjasky and Hari in the 2008 K-1 Grand Prix final ended in controversy when Badr stomped Remy after he was down following a leg trip, and resulted in Hari being disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct. For now though, Bonjasky is focused on progressing up the rankings, stating, “It depends on the promoters, if they can make the fight, it will happen. I am just going to keep on fighting and keep doing my thing.”
While discussing the former promotion, Kinch asked Remy if he encounterd the same issues as Ray Sefo, Alistair Overeem, and his opponent Tyrone Spong regarding K-1 parent company FEG, and the claims that the previously stated fighters never received compensation from the organization. He simply replied, “Nope. I don’t know if it is the contract that I signed, but I never had to wait for my compensation, I always got paid on time. I never had an issue with them, so I can’t say I am in the same situation.”
Since the downfall of FEG and K-1 in 2011, Muay Thai stylists were left without an outlet to compete at the highest level and against the biggest names in the sport. That is until the promotion now known as Glory picked up the pieces in 2012, and rebranded kickboxing under a new banner with sound financial planning, in turn saving the sport entirely. Bonjasky spoke very highly of Glory, telling BJPenn.com, “Glory has done a tremendous job in contracting all the best kick boxers. They are doing a good job, and I hope in the future they are doing as good as or even better than K-1. They pretty much saved kickboxing from going completely down. Because after K-1 there was a couple of years of nothing, and they saved it. I’m glad about that because I love this sport.” Any combat sports fan would agree, Glory saved kickboxing for the masses, and for that, everyone from the fighters to the fans are grateful.
An interesting fact to note is that both Remy and his opponent Tyrone Spong are Surinamese countrymen. The Republic Suriname is a country on the east coast of South America that was colonized by the Dutch in the 1600’s, and gained its sovereignty and independence in 1975. Since its founding, Suriname has bred countless top-notch kick boxers, from Remy himself, to Ernesto Hoost. We asked Remy why he thinks Suriname people are so naturally inclined to be great kick boxers, Bonjasky says, “I don’t know what it is, but you’re right about that. We love the sport, we loving boxing and we love kicking, and maybe it’s a physical thing. It’s like people that are from Ethiopia and Kenya can run, they always win the marathon. Swimmers usually tend to be Caucasian, I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know if it’s the water or the air, but we Suriname people love it.”
While on the topic of great kick boxers, Kinch discussed the recent loss of Ramon Dekkers with Remy. Dekkers, a pioneer of the sport and one of its most exciting fighters to watch, passed late February at the early age of 43. Bonjasky had nothing but praise for Dekkers, stating, “I used to watch fights of Ramon when I started kickboxing. He is one of the people that inspired me, looking at how he was training, he was one of the most inspirational guys that I’ve known, I knew him personally, I think he was a fantastic guy, and he was one of the biggest stars in Muay thai kickboxing. It’s a loss for us all.” To all the MMA fans that are not aware of Ramon Dekkers, you would be doing yourself a great disservice to not read up on him, and check out his highlights. Dekkers was a true ambassador for Muay Thai, both inside and outside the ring. A true legend in the sport, Ramon Dekkers will be missed by all fight fans.
While kickboxing has lost one of its greatest teachers and pioneers, Bonjasky himself is givng back now with the opening of his new gym, the Bonjasky Academy in Almere, Netherlands. The academy opened its doors in September 2010, and has been growing rapidly. BJPenn.com asked Remy about life as a gym owner, “It is hard work being a gym owner. You have so many people that want something from you, they want to tell you something, and everything you do, they want you to do it. I’m the owner, I’m the champ, I’m Remy you know, and they want me to do ALL the lessons and that’s not going to happen. So sometimes I’m like, ‘hey, come on man give me some rest,’ its hard work.” While running a gym must be stressful, Remy did express how much reward also comes with the stress, telling us, “When someone comes in the gym and they can’t make a normal punch, and after six months or something you see them making punch-kick combinations and it looks technical, it looks good, and that’s my satisfaction. That’s what I like to see, it’s not about the money, if I wanted money, I should start another business, but training them, I make them as good as I can.” From student to teacher, Bonjasky has a calling when he decides to hang up the gloves, but for now, he still has work to do in competition.
At 37 years old, and already achieving so much in kickboxing, we asked Remy how much longer he would like to stay active, and the Muay Thai technician says he still has the drive. Bonjasky told BJPenn.com, “If I feel the fire in me, if I still feel that I am strong enough to compete with the best, then I will continue. But if I feel I cannot compete with the strongest fighters in the world, then it’s time for me to retire.” Kinch went on to discuss the unfortunate stubbornness of some fighters when it comes to retirement with Remy, and his opinion on when a fighter should know it’s time to walk away. Bonjasky stated, “There is one moment when your body will tell you ‘hey this is enough.’ The mind is still young, the mind is still 25, but your body is getting older. If I compare myself to when I was 25, after a fight when I was 25, I could fight again a week after, but now it takes a lot more time to recover. So looking at that, it won’t last for 4 or 5 years, before that I’ll know when to stop.”
As far as what career choice options Remy has after fighting, other than being an elite trainer, BJPenn.com wanted to know if public service is something Bonjasky would consider. The reason being, in 2007, Remy was awarded a medal of honor by the city of Amsterdam for his service in apprehending criminals suspected of shooting passers-by with a blow dart gun. He told us, “I don’t know about that, but a couple guys were shooting at innocent bystanders here in Amsterdam, and the police couldn’t catch these guys. Then one day they shot me, and I chased them down, got them and handed them over to the cops, and I got honored for that. These guys were drug dealers, when they searched the house they found a lot of money guns and drugs, so they were real bad guys.” Unfortunately for the British drug dealers, we can be sure they had no idea what they were getting themselves into as that dart headed towards Remy. “They shot the wrong guy that day,” said Bonjasky.
For now though, “The Flying Dutchman” has one more feat to accomplish, another Grand Prix title. When asked what more he wants to accomplish, Remy told Kinch, “The best thing would be to win another Grand Prix title. If I win this one, that would be the moment for me to say it’s over. I have already achieved a lot, but if I win the final one more time it will be my fourth time, and I will be satisfied.” Bonjasky looks to take one step closer to his goal with a win over Tyrone Spong at Glory 5, with his only advice for his fellow Surinamese competitor being, “Keep your guard up and watch out for my jumping knee.”
GLORY 5 goes down live on Pay-Per View Saturday, March 23rd from the ExCel Convention Center in London, England. The card also features a full line up of great bouts, including Andy Ristie vs. Albert Kraus. Tickets are on sale, and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com!
To check out our exclusive interview with Remy’s opponent, Tyrone Spong, click here.
For more on GLORY 5 and all the latest combat sports news, stay tuned to BJPENN.com!