Peter Aerts

International Kickboxer Magazine, Nov/Dec 2014

Peter Aerts, like all ‘great’ athletes, is most often defined in terms of the length of his career and the titles he’s won. True definition, however, is a matter of establishing something in comparison with its contemporaries which, for a fighter, is in terms of their opponents.

The K-1 was the first successful tournament of its kind, part of the necessary evolution of combat sports away from styles like karate and taekwondo which are as much cultural artifacts as they are modes of combat. Few include ‘realistic’ combat as part of the syllabus, with Kyokushin karate being the most modern of them, primarily because all technique and training is channeled toward the ultimate test; full-contact fighting.

Even Kyokushin, however, is resolutely amateur and as a result, does not provide the true acid-test for stand-up fightsports. As with all things in a commercial era, the dollars of a curious public, that ultimately led to the phenomenon of the UFC, began with Kancho Ishii’s K-1.

Sam Greco, like Aerts, was one of the early stars of K-1. Sam fought Masaki Sataake as his first opponent, winning that fight by decisive knockout.

“Then the fun and games began with Mr Ishii,” says Sam. “He said he wanted me to fight Peter Aerts for my next fight. ‘Who’s he?’ I asked. I looked him up and discovered who he was. It was around that time that the t-shirts were coming out.”

Aerts made himself known to Sam in the clearest terms. Their first clash ended with Aerts taking the win by decision and their subsequent contest was decided by knockout.

Ernesto Hoost is hailed as the greatest champion of classic K-1, but for my money, that’s only because Aerts’ career had a shorter peak. Between the years 1991 to 1996, Aerts was the Michael Jordan of kickboxing. So dominant was Peter through these years that the K-1 advertising slogan became, ‘Who can Destroy Peter Aerts?’

He was not distinguished by great natural advantages, as many of the dominant fighters of the later era, nor was he an elegant technician the likes of Remy Bonjasky. He carved out his reputation with a seemingly supernatural acumen and a high kick that suddenly appeared to opponents like a bad dream.

Peter destroyed three of the world’s most dangerous opponents – Sataaki, Bernardo and Hug – in the course of a total six minutes and forty-three seconds of actual fighting in the 1998 K-1 GP.

Aerts and Hoost have fought on five occasions, with Hoost also claiming the extra win. That win was decided under highly unusual circumstances.

At the K-1 World GP in Amsterdam in 2006, Bob Sapp was to fight Ernesto Hoost, but ran out of the Amsterdam Arena. Aerts was present as a television commentator but agreed to stand in for Sapp at the last moment, despite not having trained.

He stepped into the ring in shorts borrowed from Semmy Schilt and managed to hammer his way through all three rounds, eventually losing by decision. While immensely entertaining, it was hardly a fitting closure to a long-standing rivalry between two of the greatest champions of the sport.

That rivalry is soon to be resurrected in Japan on the WKO ‘Kumite Energy’ show. With five fights between them, and three wins going the way of Hoost, we’re going to get to witness one of the greatest heavyweight kickboxing rivalries of all time, reinvigorated just one more time.


How many fights have you had now?

I don’t know; I’ve had so many.

What titles do you hold? What have you held?

I was World Champion in Kickboxing and Thai Boxing and I was K-1 Champion 3 times.

How did you become involved in the martial arts?

I wanted to be a Boxer when I was young but my mother didn’t want that. So I went to taekwondo when I was 12 and later I went to Kickboxing but my mother didn’t know what that was.

When did you start kickboxing? Was it a transition?

I went to Kickboxing when I was 14. I went from taekwondo to kickboxing.


Did you play any other sports at school?

I did a lot of sports when I was young, especially I played a lot of soccer.

What did your parents think about you fighting?

My father loves it and my mother want me to quit for many years already.

How did you end up at Chakuriki with Thom Harinck?

I wanted to become bigger in Kickboxing that’s why I went to Chakuriki.

How was it training with a former rival, Andre Manaart, at Meijiro?

Training with Andre Manaart was good, he’s a great trainer.

Who christened you ‘The Lumberjack’?

I was fighting in Aruba and won by K.O. and my opponent’s trainer called me Lumberjack and my fathers profession was a Lumberjack so that’s why I chose the name

Did you do much training with Bas Rutten? What was he like? He seems like a pretty crazy guy.

I trained with Bas Rutten when I was young but I was hanging around with him a long time. He’s a nice guy, a little crazy but we had a lot of fun.

Watersports with Bas and Peter... must be a Dutch thing.

Watersports with Bas and Peter… must be a Dutch thing.

How did K1 come to your attention? Where was your career at that time?

I was already fighting for Kancho Ishii before K-1 started

You were a big part of the golden age of K-1. Who were the memorable fights – and opponents?

I have a lot of memories about the old K-1, for me it was the greatest time of my life.

Did you know Mike Bernardo well?

Sure I remember Mike Bernardo; I fought him many times. He was a very dangerous boxer in the old time.

What are your memories of Andy Hug?

Andy Hug was a great person and a great fighter, it’s a shame it ended like this.

How do you recall your two fights against Sam Greco?

Sam Greco is a very strong guy. You always have to be sharp when you fight him because he always go all or nothing.

Is there anyone you wish you had fought?

Not anymore – I fought everybody.

Why do you think the Dutch have been so dominant in kickboxing?

Because we have many good gyms, and there’s a lot of competition in Holland with many galas.

How do you structure your training? Do you train twice a day? How do you achieve such an exceptional level of fitness?

I train 1 time a day because my recovery is not so good like the old times but I train shorter but very explosive.


How is your body? Do you have to cope with many injuries? Have you had much surgery?

In all these years I had so many fights, so my body got some damage left but with good doctors and training, I’m still in a good shape.

You once spoke out about fighters like Bob Sapp and their inclusion in the open weight tournament. What are your thoughts on it now?

It’s a shame those kind of fighters came in because they had nothing to do with kickboxing.

What made you stick it out after regulars like Greco, Bernardo, and the rest retired?

I love the game and nowadays, I don’t fight with the top anymore.

How did Ramon Dekkers’ death affect you?

It’s a big loss for the sport. He was a big champion and a friend of mine.

You have had an enormously successful career. Are there any other goals for you to still attain?

I want to stay busy with the sport; I got a lot of experience and knowledge.

Who has been your toughest opponent to date?

I had many hard fights and some fights i didn’t fight smart.

Cyril Abidi must have driven you nuts. What was it that made him such a strong opponent for you?

I fought with my heart and not with my brain.

What are your plans for after kickboxing?

Good things in the Kickboxing sport.



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