In the professional kickboxing world, Holland is known as an epicenter for kickboxing talent. Some of the world’s greatest gyms are located there. Among them, Hemmers Gym stands out. Formerly operated as the Golden Glory Gym, it has one of the most prestigious histories in kickboxing, and Ao8’s very own Mike Lemaire had the recent honor of training there for his upcoming Glory 17 Tournament.
When asked what it was like training at Hemmers Gym, Mike said: “to train with that many high level fighters in one place is amazing. Every new sparring partner is a challenge.”
Hemmers Gym is owned and operated by legendary trainer Cor Hemmer. Cor has trained and produced some of the greatest fighters in the world, one of them being the late Ramon Dekkers. As Mike puts it, he was “a legend around [there] and you can still feel his spirit [there] at the gym… When I wore the Hemmer’s gym shirt people stopped me and asked if I knew Ramon, and I saw the respect that people had for him. He was a hometown hero.”
Kickboxing styles differ from country to country and Mike said that Holland’s style is very physical and the fighters have a very high-pressure style of fighting. That being said, Mike enjoyed adapting to the Dutch style of kickboxing and training at Hemmers notwithstanding the stylistic differences.
This was not only a physical journey, but a spiritual journey as well. The five week training camp is no easy feat. Mike says, “Being alone away from home and outside of your comfort zone really tests your mental toughness. But this is the life I chose and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”
Being exposed to different cultures and their approach to sport is also invaluable. Regarding the kickboxing culture in Holland, Mike says: “The kickboxing culture is something they live for there. The level of some of the kids there is pretty amazing. Kickboxing is really a family tradition in Holland and some of the best kickboxers in the world were/are from Breda.”
Having the opportunity to spar with some of the world’s greatest kickboxers was also a highlight of Mike’s trip:
“Sparring with Errol Zimmerman was pretty scary. He hits harder than anyone I know. Filip Verlinden is called the ‘Belgium Bull’ for a reason; he just fights and keeps coming. He is surprisingly fast for his size and was my favorite guy to spar with.”
As much fun as he had, he is glad to be back at AO8. And what did he get when he came back? A burrito! We are glad to have you back stateside and look forward to you teaching us some of the many things you learned in Holland.
Make sure to check out Mike’s next fight on the Glory 17: Los Angeles card on June 21st. Mike will be taking on fellow Road to Glory winner Dustin Jacoby in an epic middleweight bout. For more information Check out the Glory 17 Event Page!