Alistair Overeem, Sergei Kharitonov and Team Golden Glory, Bas Boon Comments

Leon Horne@@Leon_HorneAnalyst IJune 17, 2011

Alistair Overeem, Sergei Kharitonov and Team Golden Glory, Bas Boon Comments

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    Photo provided by Golden Glory
    Photo provided by Golden Glory

    Team Golden Glory is a group of Mixed Martial Artists and Kick Boxers based in Breda, Holland, with satellite gyms in other parts of the world as well.

    It is home to Strikeforce, Dream and K1 heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, brother Valentijn, Sergei Kharitonov and many other fighters.

    North American fans who recently began following mixed martial arts may be scratching their heads when they hear about Golden Glory because most of the team has been fighting in the European and Japanese fight promotions since its inception in 1999.

    With Alistair Overeem's participation in the Strikeforce Heavyweight tournament along with his brother Valentijn who is an alternate, Russian born heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov a semi-finalist and John-Olav Einemo's debut in the UFC this past weekend—Golden Glory is making a push into the North American market.

    The co-owner of Team Golden Glory took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about Golden Glory's beginnings, the fighters who make up the team and the focus going forward.

Golden Glory: The Beginnings

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    Bas Boon was born and raised in Holland and got his start in the fight game at 15 when he decided to take up Taekwondo after his brother had been training for a few months.

    The reason for Boon's and Golden Glory's success is maybe in part due to the experience he has as a fighter himself.

    "I started to fight for money, at that time 27 years ago for like 200 guilders or marks [around 100 USD]". Boon told Bleacher Report.

    Unfortunately for Boon, his fighting career was cut short and that's when he got into the management and promotion side of  combat sport.

    "After 19 fights and 17 wins I had to stop because of a knee injury due to an accident (that wasn't sustained during a fight)." Boon went on to say, "I started promoting fights just before I was 18"

    Boon promoted some big matches early on and made some strong connections with other people in the business today.

    "Some of the classics were Ramon Dekker vs. Ballentine, Peter Aerts vs. Frank Lobman, Peter Aerts vs. Maurice Smithm" Boon told Bleacherreport.com.

    Boon went on to talk about his partners and his first televised fight: "I promoted together with Thom Harink and Cor Hemmers and it was a big formula for success, I also brought the first fight on T.V., this was Branco Cicatic vs Ernesto Hoost."

    From there, Boon went on to purchase the rights to major Thai promotions during what he refers to as the "Golden Times" where he promoted European vs. Thai fighters on European television. He went on to put on the first ever European cage fighting tournament in Antwerpen, Belgium.

    A visit to Aruba in 1999 to promote the World Vale Tudo Championships with Frederico Lapenda (president of Paradigm Pictures) and Golden Glory was born.

    "[In Aruba] I met Ron [Nyqvist] who promoted the WVTC 8 and 9. After those shows the idea was born to put the winners under a management contract and Ron came up with the idea of Golden Glory."

    From there Golden Glory made their first big impact at a 2H2H show in Holland where all the Golden Glory Fighters came away as winners including: Alistair and Valentijn Overeem, Semmy Schilt and Martin de Jong.

    Today, Golden Glory is managed by Bas Boon, Cor Hemmers and Ron Nyqvist. Much of the success the team is seeing today is based on the building blocks that were laid down at the turn of the millennium.

Why Haven't Golden Glory Fighters Been Fighting in North America?

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    Photo provided by Golden Glory
    Photo provided by Golden Glory

    Most of Golden Glory's success stems from their strong presence in the European and Asian mixed martial arts and K1 kickboxing scenes.

    Although Alistair Overeem has been the Strikeforce Heavyweight champion since 2007, he has only fought for the promotion on two occasions: once in 2007 when he took the title from Paul Buentello and in 2010 when he defended his title against Brett Rogers.

    Many fans have wondered why Alistair hasn't been fighting more often and why he wasn't in the UFC along with other Golden Glory fighters. It certainly hasn't been because of problems between Golden Glory and UFC officials (Dana White and the Fertittas), and Boon attests to that.

    "I always had a good relationship with Dana [White],I think he did an amazing job and I have a huge respect for the Fertittas (I met Lorenzo in Japan and Monaco a few times) who had the balls to put $46 million in this UFC." Boon told Bleacherreport.com.

    Boon isn't bothered at all by the fact that the UFC has become the premier promotion for mixed martial arts either:

    "People complain about monopoly and make all kinds of accusations, the truth is Dana White and the Fertittas are exactly what the fighting sports needed. Now, it's a billion dollar company and they got Burger King and Harley Davidson sponsoring."

    As to why Golden Glory fighters haven't been in the UFC until very recently, the answer is simple:

    "We did not fight in the UFC with Golden Glory fighters for a very simply reason, the money was always better in Japan, so as a manager of professional fighters, what do you do?" Boon explained.

    Japan has faced a lot of adversity this year and with the UFC's parent company Zuffa's purchase of Strikeforce, North America has become a focus for Team Golden Glory.

Coming to America

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    Golden Glory heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov knocks out former UFC heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski in Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament Quarter Finals. (Photo provided by Golden Glory)
    Golden Glory heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov knocks out former UFC heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski in Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament Quarter Finals. (Photo provided by Golden Glory)

    Since the start of 2011, Golden Glory has been getting a lot more fighters involved in the North American Mixed Martial Arts scene.

    Sergei Kharitonov and Alistair Overeem are entered on opposite sides of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament.

    Alistair's brother Valentijn is a reserve fighter in the tournament and Norwegian fighter John-Olav Einemo made his long awaited return to action at UFC 131 this past weekend in Vancouver.

    Kharitonov decimated former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, almost knocking him into retirement.

    Alistair will be trying to get revenge against Fabricio Werdum this weekend in Dallas for the Strikeforce event, and his brother Valentijn will be looking to continue his winning streak as he tries to put away Chad Griggs in Dallas as well.

    Einemo lost his UFC debut to Dave Herman in a back and forth war that was awarded fight of the night.

    When asked whether Einemo will get another shot in the UFC, Boon told Bleacherreport.com "He will fight again as he got fight of the night; he had a little ring rust, but with a little bit more training and the right opponents, he could become very dangerous for everybody."

    Let's not forget the ladies. Current Strikeforce champion Marloes Coennen is a Golden Glory product, but like many fans after the Strikeforce purchase, Boon isn't certain if the women's division will remain in place.

    "I do not know if women's MMA will stay around but she [Coennen] is an amazing fighter with a huge heart and lots of skills."

    Of course, Alistair, Kharitonov, Valentijn and Einemo have some things to prove before they become the next big things in the UFC or Strikeforce.

Tough Times for Golden Glory Fighters

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    Photo provided by Golden Glory
    Photo provided by Golden Glory

    Although Goden Glory is looking to make their mark in North America, the fighters have a little bit to prove still.

    Kharitonov, Alistair, Valentijn and Einemo have all seen some tough times in their careers, and they need a few more wins to put those times completely in the past.

    Alistair has compiled a lot of wins, but in mixed martial arts he simply hasn't done it against the best competition. In fact despite being 9-0 with 1 no contest over his last 10 fights, many people don't rank Alistair inside the top 10 because of the competition he has faced.

    Boon understands why some people refuse to rank Alistair inside of the top 10 and gives his point of view on the rankings:

    "I can understand this, but it's not that Alistair has been running away from the competition. He wanted to fight Fedor and we openly challenged him many times.

    "When we were supposed to fight Werdum, he needed elbow surgery. So, we decided to fight in the K-1 GP and Alistair became the champion."

    Boon went on to say that if Alistair wins the Strikeforce tournament, he has no problems saying that Alistair is the No. 1 heavyweight in the world.

    Prior to Alistair's nine-fight win streak, he was fighting between light heavyweight and heavyweight and had only gone 4-6 in his last 10 fights. Things weren't looking good for Alistair at the time and many fans point back to this rough patch as one of the reasons why they have difficulty ranking him in\side the top 10.

    Alistair's brother Valentijn until his recent three fights, had trouble getting on a win streak.

    Kharitonov wasn't fighting very often.

    Einemo hadn't fought in over five years until his UFC debut this past weekend.

    Obviously, the Golden Glory heavyweights have seen some hard times in the past and Boon explained some of the issues to Bleacherreport.com: "I think every fighter will reach a certain point in life were other things matter more than fighting alone; fighters get girlfriends, wives, children, tax problems, health problems, mental problems."

    Boon went on to explain his role with the fighters: "As manager I sometimes feel like a psychologist, social worker, lawyer and dad at the same time. It is a big task especially for a manager to see when things go wrong and trying to get the fighters, coaches and others who are involved with the fighter in the winning direction again."

    Struggles aside, the Golden Glory fighters are in the win column for the most part and appear to be on the right track.

What Are Bas Boon's Expectations?

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    Photo provided by Golden Glory
    Photo provided by Golden Glory

    Bleacherreport.com had the chance to ask Boon what he expects the Golden Glory fighters who are fighting in North America to do as they continue to fight for Strikeforce and/or the UFC.

    Alistair Overeem has a lot of hype behind him and Boon expects Alistair to live up to the hype.

    "Heavyweight Champion" were the only words Boon needed to describe Overeem's future. He also used these same words to describe what was in Kharitonov's future as well.

    Alistair's brother Valentijn is a seasoned veteran with his biggest victory being over Randy Couture and despite some rough patches Boon still feels that he has "Great Potential."

    Of course, these are all the Golden Glory fighters fighting in North America, what about the other guys?

Welterweights Who Can Challenge Georges St-Pierre and Gokhan Saki

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    Photo provided by Golden Glory.
    Photo provided by Golden Glory.

    "Siyar Bahadurzada and Tommy Depret would both stand a huge chance in beating GSP [Georges St-Pierre]. In the last Glory World Series in Moscow, they fought in the finals of the 8 man tournament and it was one of the best fights I have seen in a long time" is what Boon had to say about the two Golden Glory welterweights.

    Boon tells fans to watch the repeat of the Bahadurzada and Depret fight on HDNet this June 17 and be the judge of their abilities for themselves.

    Bahadurzada is an Afghan-born fighter who is 20-4-1 and is riding a six fight win streak. He actually has a four-fight deal with Strikeforce, but has been having issues getting a visa to fight on American soil (probably has to do with his Afghan citizenship).

    Depret, a Belgian fighter, is 9-4-0.

    Gokhan Saki is more known for his kick boxing, but is contemplating a return to mixed martial arts in the future.

    "The quickest fighter in the fight game today. Natural born fighter with amazing fighting abilities. Trains like a monster and does not know the word quit. Winner of K-1 Hawaii tournament and winner of Glory $150.000 fighting championships." is how Boon describes Saki as a fighter.

    Whether Saki will become a contender in mixed martial arts or if Bahadurzada or Depret will ever challenge Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight belt is yet to be seen and it may never happen. But, all these fighters are exciting to watch and bring a lot of energy to their fights win or lose.

Golden Glory Going Forward

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    Photo provided by Golden Glory.
    Photo provided by Golden Glory.

    Golden Glory fighters are just starting to get heated up in North America.

    All of the Golden Glory fighters fighting in North America right now have a lot left to prove, but with key victories, they could go a long way towards making themselves some of the most recognized fighters around the world.

    Despite their ups and downs there is one thing all the fighters have in common and that is they are barely ever in a boring fight.

    Between Kharitonov, the Overeem brothers, Einemo, Bahadurzada and Depret, they have close to 170 fights and of those 170 fights, only 15 of them have finished in a decision.

    The Golden Glory fighters come to finish or get finished and Boon elaborates a little more on the style of their fighters: "There is a certain system we train which produces aggressive and very well conditioned fighters especially when they have to fight each other (laughs). They want to knock out their opponents and sometimes will risk winning a fight by trying to go for the knock out."

    Definitely a style fight fans everywhere can appreciate.

    Golden Glory has satellite gyms in every corner of the planet and a gym will be opening soon in California, with more American locations to come.

    It will be interesting to see where Golden Glory ends up a couple of years down the road. Will they be as successful as American Kickboxing Academy or Jackson-Winkeljohn's camp?

    Who knows, a lot needs to be done still, but something tells me we will find out in the next year or two where exactly this fight camp stands in North America.

    If their massive success in European and Japanese mixed martial arts and K1 is any indicator of how strong their team is, fans can expect to see some of the most exciting and dominant fighters ever to have fought in North American promotions. 

    Alistair Overeem has three titles, two in mixed martial arts and one in K1 kick.boxing. No other fighter on the planet has ever held three different titles across two different disciplines and this speaks volumes to Overeem's abilities as a fighter and Golden Glory as the team that was able to get him there.


    Leon Horne has been contributing to Bleacher Report for three years now. He focuses mainly on mixed martial arts, but he has also written about tennis, football and hockey. Just send him a message if you want to talk sports or discuss any opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter for updates: Follow Leon_Horne on Twitter