Interview of Tom Harinck by Russian website

March 17, 2009

Russian website interviewed Thom Harinck.

The original is here


English translation is below.

Interview with Tom Harinck.

Chakuriki! The most famous Tai boxing club in the world. The place where grown dozens of European and World Champions of Muay-Tai and kick-boxing. Branko Sikatich, Peter Arts, Gilbert Ballentin and many others. A universal system, created by Tom Harink, collected all the best from all over the world to create a winning recipe. The recipe, which works without denial for more than 30 years. Tom Harink – Founder MTBN (Dutch Muay Thai Association) 1983, EMTA (European Muay Thai Association), WMTA (World Muay Thai Association) 1984. 6 Dan Kiokushin karate, 7 dan Campo … The first Dutchman, who fought with his team at the Lumpini stadium in Bangkok. Tom Harink had an impact even on the sport’s “fashion”. ” It was his men became the first in red satin shorts (shorts later became the official form of kick-boxing).


In dodjo (in dodjo, not in the sports club) Chakuriki all very simple. A small room with the ring, dozens of boxing bags, gloves and an old torn makivara. A small fitness room, locker. Over the bar is not usual for the Dutch gyms smiling maidens, but gloomy man. Posters! I considered them a half an hour. The entire Thai and Kik boxing history of the last 30 years. Lucia Rijker, Ernesto Hoost, Branko Sikatich, Gilbert Ballentin, Ramon Dekkers, Frank Lobman … These posters, old sacks, and the ring, living legends, who routinely come to greet you – all this creates an incredible atmosphere.

Tom Harink

Slim, cheerful, smart. Demonstrating the technique, moves easily and beautifully. Not a drop of importance or arrogance. “I am the whole day in the gym, come when you want. But the best time on Wednesday morning, less people. Come on Wednesday at 11. If you want to”. Here, after the phrase “if you want” (als u wilt), I immediately realized with who have the deal. The old intelligentsia in Holland likes to use that phrase. For example, say a subordinate – do well and so, and added “if you want”, with its respect for this man. T. Harink’s respect manifests itself in everything. In how he speaks to workers, in what form corrects fighters. Had to leave early, so sat down in the hall, where the music is not audible and it was convenient to record interviews on a dictaphone. All the time, looking back, looking through the glass to training youngsters. A couple of times I could not resist and said “I can wait” and he almost ran, to give an instructions to his fighters. Coming back, he apologize. I was not comfortable and pleased that the man who older than me almost twice, and who himself deserves great respect, is behaving so beautifully.

- How it all began?

When I was 6 years old, I began studying judo and studied up to 12 years. I had a brown belt, because at that time it was impossible to have a black belt at 12 years. Then I started to play football. I was crazy about football. I trained football until 18, then went into the army. In the army I was a tank driver. Passion for boxing in the Army and spent 22 amateur bouts. One lost on points, the other wins. After the army I started Kyokushinkai karate at Jhon Bluming. At a tournament among the black belts, I was disqualified for the punch in the face. Then I realized that karate is not for me. I decided to combine karate and boxing, and it was a kick-boxing.

- You have 6 dan Kyokushinkai karate?


- How many years have you been training?

Not many, but after I opened «Chakuriki» many people came up to me and give me the belt as a sign of respect.

- In Russia, many respected Bluming, but at the same time say that he gives the belts too easily.

Yes, too easily. I know that even if you were not involved in this sport, he gives the belt. For me the belt is not important. In «Chakuriki» there are no belts, it is important for us at what level you fight. You can see in my office, dozens of belts. Jiu-Jitsu, Kempo, kung-fu.. – people give them to me as a token of respect, not because I am involved in these sports. I do Chakuriki – this is what I love. Belts for me mean nothing.

In 1972 I started to train people, and very soon we began to win tournaments.

- Tournaments at the time probably were not very high, whereas it was not lots of clubs?

But we fought a lot of time outside the Netherlands: in Germany, Italy, everywhere .. We fought at the tournament taekwondo, Kempo, Shaolin kungfu-. We fought at tournaments, where were the fighters of different styles. In those days, we very much benefited. We dressed in the red gi …

- Your famous red gi … Until now, I see the fighters that go in the red gi. Badr Hari went to Amsterdam in the red gi. He was involved in your team?

Yes, he trained by me 7 years. He held our 55 battles, 51 of whom won. Once he lost to Ignashev …

- But then he was too young?

He was then 18 years. They asked me whether Badr can fight? I said: «Why not?» And he fought very well. In the beginning everything was OK, but then he was tired.

- And that was after?

People start giivng him cars, money. And he left my gym.

- So how do you feel when he has left?

I referred to him as a son, but he left me. I was very upset. Not because I lost a fighter, but because I treated him as a father. And we never had problems, arguments. And just because the rich people started to give him money, he left me. He sold me.

- He did not explain why this is done?

No, we never spoke about it. He never looks in my eyes when we meet somewhere.

- And when he fight, do you want him to win?

I have no difference. I am no longer watching him. He disappointed me.

- I see Peter ..

Yes, he trained by me 10 years and then left. But he came back and told me that he made a big mistake. And I am very happy to return him. When Peter was leaving, he simply said: I do not want to go more in Amsterdam. And I said: OK, no problem.

We are always creating new champions. If one goes, then we do another. Now it is Hesdi (Hesdy Gerges). When he came into my gym 4 years ago, he did not know anything, but now he is a Europe Champion. And he’s very, very good.

- Who was your best fighter?

Tekim Donech, feather weight, 57kg. He was world champion. But it was a very long time. He was a little Turkish boy of six years, when he came to me in the hall and trained by me up to 28 years. But then he was carried away by cocaine …

- And now?

Now it is very bad. Washed-up addict, living on the street. But he was the best! Fought in Thailand. I had a lot of good fighters, but he was the best.

- And in heavy weit?

Hesdi I think would be the best from all who I had.

- And Sikatich Branco Cikatic?

He was simply fantastic. Every fighter has something special. Branko was amazing. He is still in the shape. He is now 52, he engaged in sports. Hi has security service, and two sports clubs in Croatia. I was a witness at his wedding. We, as a part of one family. Branko fantastic man. You know, he won the K-1, when he was 38, the same as Peter (Arts).

- I was very disappointed when Peter lost the last time.

Yes, it was awful, awful.

- What was wrong? At the age?

No, not age. He had a bad training process, it was slow, not motivated. Jan Plas was busy with his problems with the police. He was not a soul with Peter. And all this together gave a bad result. You know, he wanted to come earlier, but hesitated, not knowing how I meet him. But I can forget everything.

- Do you think he can win back K-1?

That’s my goal! Of course, it is difficult to predict anything, but … It is only 2 months of training with me. You can ask him, he is already 50% better. But I want him to be 100% better. Working with Hesdi (Hesdy Gerges) and Bredok (Anderson “BRADOCK” Silva), he gets the form, but need a little time. I want him to win the K-1 again.

Yesterday, show your photos to my wife and said: «In a year when I was born – this man already has 3 European champions» …

(Laughs) You 1975? Yes, I am one of the old coaches, and I am still in the business. Many coaches have left work. Johan Vos, Jan Plas almost no trains, many, many coaches.

- I see you are in good shape …

Yes, I am in excellent shape! I kick stronger and faster than these guys, though I 65! I train every day. Today at 8-30 I already had training.

- Tom, you are familiar with different systems, but why do you teach them Tai-boxing? Why is not karate or something else?

I do not know … I like the Tai-boxing. Once we were invited to Japan. Lloyd Van Dams fought with the Russian champion in karate kiokushin.

- Lechi Kurbanov?

Yes. I prepared Lloyd for 2 months. It was a magnificent battle! They really fought on equal terms. In the thirs round russian man twice got Lloyd in face, I think not intentionally. You know, I think it was the equal fight. But the judges decided that the Russian was better.

- Kurbanov said that Lloyd was the best, with whom he had to fight.

He was honest. And he was really good. I saw that this time, Lloyd had problems, but Lloyd is not a kiokushin fighter. But this is only one fight … But in general, I like Tai-boxing.

- K-1 – this is …

I do not like K-1

- Why?

I like the 5 rounds to 3 minutes. Only so you can see the real force of fighters, endurance. Anyone can fight 3 rounds. At the begining, in 1992, K-1 was – 5 rounds of 3 minutes. But then the Japanese saw that Dutch guys are too strong in this. The Japanese fought 1-2 round very well, then we are tired and they were knocked out. Then the Japanese said: “Hay, we should change the rules, and did three rounds. Although during the tournament, I can justify it. After all, you fight three fights for three rounds. But still, I personally love the 5 rounds, as fighting in the tai-boxing.

- But sometimes in a tai-boxing you see too much of clinch …

No, when the clinch, you must stop. But when clinch good – this is beautifull. Clinch – is a very good technique. But very few people know how to use it. Here’s where you see the clinch in Thailand, it is very exciting. With superb knee and elbows. At the same time, I understand that other places do not know how to work in the clinch. When competing in kick-boxing are in the clinch, you must stop.

- You had a few months in Thailand, is not it?

Yes, we were invited to Thailand in 1978. We were then the best in Europe. But we did not even imagine what to expect. I did not know then about Thai boxing, I have never seen it. When I saw the training and a few fights, I realized that we can not win! Even in spite of the fact that I watched something and we tried to work out the what we saw. It was too late. They just killed us. First, second round, third round of a one fight – they are knocked all of us out. It was awful!

After that, my boys came home and I stayed in Thailand. I learned the real technique of tai-boxing in the three best halls, returned home and began to teach my guys. I gathered all the best that I knew: boxing, tai boxing, kick boxing, karate. And it was already Chakuriki (!) – My style.

- Chakuriki as the system has changed over the past 10 years?

No, all the same. Of course, you learn a lot over the years. When you 27-30 you think you know everything. But the more adult you become, the more you know. Even now, at 65, I learn something new. I understand better some combinations. I think it is a matter of life experience. Therefore, the coaches of famous American boxers were old. Coaches of Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard were aged 73-75. When they died of a heart attack or something, then Tyson, Ali, Leonard start working with a younger coaches, and their career began to decline. Now I understand why. Previously, I always thought that if someone over 70 and he was in the corner, well, that he may suggest? But it does not matter. This is normal. They (fighters) need the old coach. And then they will have success – it is 100 per cent.

The final K-1 of the eight participants, five were from Holland. I do not understand why, because the Dutch are not aggressive …

Competition between the coaches as Tom Haring, Jan Plas, Johan Vos, is very high. We have raised the competition for such a high level, that the level of fighters grew up. This is like a competition between Ajax and Feyenoord. I want to win at the Jan Plas. Jan Plas wants to win the Tom Haring. We are constantly pushing the guys and make training difficult.

Now, in Holland the kick-boxing is a popular. In America, it is MMA. But if they would have been a good coach to kick-boxing – they would have been a good kick-boxers. When I trained in Amsterdam, people were told that in Amsterdam, strong guys. And in Utrecht and Rotterdam, not fighters. But after I opened the hall in Utrecht, I had three Netherland champions from the Utrecht. This does not depend on where an athlete: from Holland, Russia or Belgium. If the coach is good, then the fighter will always be good. Now you can see that in many small places in the Netherlands a lot of good fighters. Do not say that in Amsterdam, strong guys – this is not true. I know that if I started to practice in a small town in Russia, people would say that Russian hard men. I’ve been many times in Russia, in Moscow. I know that they are train hard. But they do not have a system, they do not know how. The coach makes a good fighter.

- Of those who fight now, who do you think an interesting fighter?

I think this is Tyrone Spong. He called me just yesterday. He wants to train here. He had a problem with sparring partners. And I have a lot of good fighters. I told him that he could come. In K-1 is not a lot of interesting fighters. I think this is due to the fact that the K-1 is too much politics. A lot of good fighters are not fighting there. The same situation is now in Holland for the tournament “It’s Showtime”. There hard to go through the system.

- And you guys are fighting there, because you know people?

No, they simply can not ignore us. But often with my guys do not want to arrange fights. For example, I know Bas Boon, I say to him: “Hey, Bas, let’s arrange a fight with Heidi and Saki, Bredok and Zimerman” but they do not want to, because they are not confident that they will benefit. It is unfortunate that this happens.

- Well, if someone is really good, whether he has a chance to get to this tournament?

Sometimes. If you really, really, really good, they can not past you. If you win, if people know you, you will have a chance, and they make a contract with you. But I say, if you’re really good, then you will be at the top. Most Japanese fighters is worse than the Dutch. But in Japan, far more money and more promotion. Ring in the Netherlands and in Japan the same ring. But in Japan on television, the Internet more people are interested in what is happening. In Japan, this is big business, thats why they have big names. Sometimes, in the Netherlands or Romania are very good tournaments with very good fighters. Last week «Rings» was at a very high level. But this is no coverage.

- Nobody is trying to change it, make a contract with the TV, etc.?

Yes, but this TV will not do, they have a contract with K-1. They think that the K-1 – is the best sport. But the thing is that for the K-1 is Fuji TV. It is all politics.

- By the way, I was surprised by the terms of payment in your room. Normally, in Holland is a contract for a year and you have to speak before 3 months when you leaves and much more,.. But you have very favorable conditions, low prices …

Yes, of course, we need money to pay for all this. We need to pay coaches, employees, outside room, and you know what the Dutch taxes. But if someone wants to leave – said to me and goes, I did not create this problem. No long-term contracts and everything is very simple. Children pay me 18 euros a month and train 3 times a week. It is very cheap. We train about 300 children. Also I have interest from the profits of professional fighters. This is normal. I do not earn that much. But it’s not a problem for me. My wife has a very good job. She is a lawyer and teaches at the University. We are in no need.

- Already 12, you have time for?

Yes, I have to go. Come when you want. You can even train with us. I will leave you at the bar my book. When you leave, take it.

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