In the early 1980's, with Urquidez and Wallace being the big names, most fighters in North America did not take Rob Kaman seriously. He soon proved them wrong and was far too strong for any North American fighter. Respected and well-known throughout Europe, the Orient and finally in North America, he is now referred to as a "Living Legend".
No man has been king of the rings for so long, nor has anyone ever succeeded in winning more titles. He started at Mejiro Gym as a young boy, where he grew into someone capable of filling all the seats in the legendary Jaap Edenhal, with his name on the posters.
Rob kaman was born on the 5th of June 1960 in Amsterdam. He started training in the martial arts in 1976. Before that, he played soccer for Ajax in Amsterdam. Rob was a good player, but he never liked team sports.
He started in the martial arts with Penchak Silat, an Indonesian martial art, until he discovered Muay Thai which he also liked very much. Finally, in May of 1978,he went to train in Mejiro gym, where he followed lessons by the great teacher Jan Plas. After 4 months of training, he had his first fight against Carillon, who was a French champion and he lost the fight on points.
Rob then decided that he was going to train harder than before and he also started fighting a lot. Very soon Rob became an A-class fighter in Holland. He won most of his fights by K.O. The turning point for him was his fight with Blinky Rodriquez, the cousin of Benny Urquidez. Rob knocked him out in the 2nd round with a low kick to the leg. That was his international breakthrough! From then on, Rob started fighting in Thailand.
His first fight in Thailand was against Dennoi, a local champion. Rob won by K.O. and was asked to fight Lakchart, a Thai champion, in Bangkok. He lost that fight but also learned a lot from his loss.
Rob soon came back and won a lot of fights. These victories gave him the chance to fight John Moncayo on the 23rd of September 1983 for the world title WKA of kickboxing. Rob knocked him out in the 3rd round with a low kick and became the first European WKA world champion in kickboxing.
On the 12th of January he fought Payap Premchai, the champion of Thailand, in the Jaap Edenhal in Amsterdam and after a great fight he was again the winner.
In April the rematch with Moncayo followed in Miami/Florida and again he knocked Moncayo out, this time with a punch in the 2nd round. At the end of that year he beat the great Thai fighter Samart Prasanmirt in Hong Kong and he also beat Jean Marc Tonus for the European title of full contact.
During the year 1985,he beat Larry McFadden in the 3rd round by knockout and three months later he took his revenge on Lakchart. He knocked the Thai out in the 4th round.
After that, Rob fought a lot of different fighters in Amsterdam, Ernest Simmons (WKA rules), Ernesto Hoost (WKA rules), Payap (rematch on Muay Thai rules), Roger Hurd (WKA rules) and Sittisak (Muay Thai rules).
He won them all and at the end of 1987 the Japanese asked him to come fight in Japan.
His first fight in Japan was against Lakchart and Rob knocked him out in the 1st round !!! Japan became Kaman-crazy and from then on he fought many times in Japan. He fought against Kirkwood Walker, Hansu Premchai, Santiago Garza, Don Nakaya, Nielsen, Carmichael (USA) and O'reagan (Ireland). He won all the fights.
On the 9th of April 1989 Rob fought back in Holland, this time against Jan Wessels from Arnhem. Rob also organised that big event so he did not have the time to prepare properly for the fight. Rob lost the fight and a lot of people in Holland thought that Rob's career was over. He came back, in a world title fight for WKA where he beat Jan Wessels by knock out in the 2nd round, at the end of that year.
During 1990 it was again all the same. Rob was too busy; he played in the movie "Bloodfist" with Don Wilson and Billy Blanks and he fought too much. He fought three times against Changpuak from Thailand and after that he fought Eddy Matthieu from France. During the summer he had to fight in Japan against Peter Smit. His opponent was a newcomer and a WKA European champion. Rob became a father with the birth of his son Gaby and so he had to go to Japan just before the fight. He also suffered from an injury in a fight in Thailand with Changpuak but that did not matter. For Rob Kaman, a contract is a contract!!! Rob lost his world title and almost everybody said that Rob Kaman's kingdom was over.
He soon came back and his first fight was against the Japanese fighter Nishi in Japan. Rob won by knock out in the 1st round then the promoters in Holland put him in a super fight with the new coming fighter Ernesto Hoost !!! Before the fight nobody expected Kaman to win, but Rob fought like a lion in a great fight and he knocked out Hoost in the 5th round. Rob was back and much stronger then ever before. For most kickboxing fans, that fight with Ernesto Hoost is the best fight ever fought in Holland and Europe.
After the fight with Hoost, Rob worked for the first time with manager Clovis Depretz and under his supervision he was scheduled to fight in France due to his popularity there. On 29th of June 1991, he fought Luc Verheye for the world title WKA. Luc Verheye had beaten Peter Smit and was the new world champion. This didn't last long because Rob showed him who was the best. He beat Luc Verheye and took his title back.
Rob fought a lot in France and he's a superstar there. One of his best fights was against Marek Piotrowski, who he beat by K.O. in the 7th round. He fought in France against many fighters, fighters like Rick Roufus, Mark Russell, Justin Ward, Zito Polyo and many more.
On 20th of June 1992 Rob fought "the fight of the fights". He fought Jean Yves Theriault, the greatest full contact champion ever. Rob won the fight by TKO and so became the new ISKA world champion. He was at the same time world champion in WKA kickboxing and world champion in Muay Thai.
On 26th of November 1993 Rob fought after three years in Holland, this time against another great Dutch champion Rick V.D. Vathorst. Kaman knocked him out in the 2nd round and showed the Dutch crowd that after all these years he was still the best.
At the end of that year Nikko Toshogu Press produced 8 videotapes on Muay Thai training with Rob Kaman and one videotape with highlights and knock outs of his career (all the tapes are really amazing!) Rob also played in two movies with Jean Claude van Damme, "Maximum Risk" and "Double Team" with Dennis Rodman and Mickey Rourke. After that he fought again in France, this time in Marseille, again against a newcomer from Holland, Orlando Breinburg. He won by TKO in the 3rd round.
He also won against the French champion Jerome Turcan and then had to fight in the K-2 tournament in Paris, France. His first fight was against Lavelle Robinson and he won by KO. In his second fight ,he fought the Australian Tosca Petridis, and after a very hard fight he was again the winner. In the finals Rob fought against Jerome Turcan from France who fought for his own crowd. Rob was full of injuries from his fight with Petridis. From the beginning Turcan started fighting very aggressively and he did everything he could do to knock Rob out!!
During round 4, Rob was bleeding heavily. He started without hope and then amazed everyone when he knocked Turcan out with two amazing high kicks at the end of the round!!! So after all his world titles, he also won the K-2 tournament in Paris, France.
After only a few fights in the later years, because of too many injuries and also starring in a new movie with Jean Claude Van Damme (The Legionnaire), Rob decided to end his career, back where it all started, in Holland.
So on 24 October 1999, he fought for the last time, against Alexei Ignashov, a 21 year old amateur world champion in kickboxing. After an era of glory and power, his career had finally reached an end. A neck hernia that never completely healed had made Rob decide to blaze once more and then step out of the ring forever.
In only a few days every ticket was sold out in Holland and every fan of his came to see him fight for the last time. His entry in the ring that evening was really great. The whole crowd had white flags and from four corners came a music group, to bring Rob to the ring in a way that only a great champion deserves.
The crowd gave him a standing ovation, when he stepped for the last time into the ring.
Rob won the fight by points, but after the fight he said that his opponent was the real winner and gave his winning trophy to Alexei Ignashov.
When Rob stood for the last time in the ring after his great career with more than a hundred fights, all the lights went out and with a music parade, his son Gaby came to the ring and gave his father the trophy for "the fighter of the century".
And so it ended on 24 0ctober of 1999: The end of an era, the beginning of a legend.
The legend of Rob Kaman, a fantastic sportsman, a great kickboxer, a real great champion, but most of all a great human being !!!
Kaman was the man with the most feared low kick, often called "Mr. Low Kick". That low kick had everything to do with timing and visualization. For Rob, timing and visualization were intertwined. If you take another good look at his matches you will see that it was not only the low kicks that decided the matches. It was his choice of good combinations at the right moment: low kick/ punch -high/ low moving in and out. He has won matches using virtually every technique: high kicks and punches - timed combinations and takeovers. Kaman was an intelligent fighter who was almost always one step ahead of his competition. Normally Kaman's game plan was to irritate, let his opponent come and look for openings in his defense.
In our day, you can see many fighters storming forwards without preparation, without being able to move in and out, and without making plans or being able to move intuitively. Rob was not like that at all! For him the biggest secret was in the preparation.
When Rob Kaman opens his mouth you don’t hear a champion knocked silly speaking, but a philosopher and, foremost, a human being.
He has a strong intellectual and spiritual insight:
"You need to control your technique, be in optimal condition and visualize your fights.
Visualization is one of the greatest powers in life.
That is the way it works with my low kick: each time I would imagine the moment in which I would make the low kick.
I lived through the phase of the fight thousands of times before the actual day of the fight.
If I had a videotape of my opponent I would see the moment in which I would have to kick. It was on my mind constantly.
So when I was in the ring fighting my opponent, my subconscious just made a click. Boom! There was that low kick.
When we were sack training, Jan (Plas) would imitate the opponent’s movement.
This was no more than a starting signal for me; my technique in reacting to the opponent’s action was even faster than action-reaction.
Kickboxing has given me insight in life and life has given me insight in kickboxing.
About persevering and taking hurdles in both the mental and physical sense of the word.
Life and fights are alike in many ways.
Visualization also plays an important role in all of this.
If you are dedicated to imagining yourself in the situation that awaits you, you will be able to react at the right moment.
You will be one with the moment, without tension. This is called avoiding dualities."