Cage Fight in Holland, the First and Last,” Battle for Billions”! At the end of the 1980s, Cor hemmers, Thom Harinck, and I started promoting and producing Big Fights in Europe. Fights like Peter Aerts vs. Maurice Smith, Ballentine vs. Dekker. Ernesto Hoost vs. Rob Kaman, to name a few. Holland became famous for these events, and even a new name was given to the sport “Dutch Kickboxing.” I became one of the first fight promoters that made television deals for the kickboxing sport. Not long after the first UFC, I could see the enormous potential of this “new” concept of promoting the fighting sport. So, I became the first European Cage Fight Promoter/Producer!
Two decades after the Dutch press ridiculed my Cage fighting Promotions calling it “human cock fighting,” it became a billion $ sports industry!
The first Cage Fight I produce is in Antwerpen, Belgium, on June 7th, 1995. This date is just two years after the launch of the UFC. Dana White has nothing to do with the UFC at that time)!
After the first Cage Fight in Antwerpen, Belgium, I decided to ride the wave while she was hot. I immediately plan on promoting and producing another event. Only this time, we would be bringing it home to Holland. Henk Kuiper’s invited me out to Emmen to discuss a possible corporation for promoting a Cage fight in Emmen.
It didn’t take long for us to come to terms and shake on a deal. And to have contracts written up between Henk, myself, and Henri Corbeel, who would supply the Cage.
I knew the media. This Cage Fight Tournament would be a gold mine.
I now knew how to play with the press. This project was a gold mine. Henk could get the ticket revenues. I would pay for the production cost and keep the rights, and Corbeel would get paid for bringing the Cage.
I started to feed TV with the first coverage of the Rooze vs. Oetelaar fight (first Cage Fight in Belgium Antwerp), and the response was overwhelming. There was not a single news outlet that wasn’t talking about the upcoming Cage Fight in Emmen 21-04-1996.
With exposure and popularity comes Politics. The ministry of sports in Holland would do anything to forbid this terrible form of human ‘cockfighting.’ Maarten van Bottenburg wrote a report about the fighting sport getting more brutal in Holland. Every radio and TV station used my Belgium footage to promote the show. The result was that the show sold out, I think about 2500 tickets for 100 guilders which were very high then.
Matchmaking for Tv rights.
I ensured we had fighters from Germany, Belgium, the USA, and other countries. We had broadcasters lining up to witness the event. I asked 2500 guilders per minute for news, and most hosts wanted 2 or 3 minutes. In Holland, the Media broadcast some of the fights live on BNN, a Dutch Broadcast. And then there were the Talk programs after the Cage Fight Tournament. The list was endless; ZDF, RTL, SAT 1 in Germany (some were fighting for exclusive), Belgium TV, and British TV, to name a few.
No time to sleep. This is crazy!
I worked three days straight, no sleep, faxed contract after contract to the Broadcasters and did nothing exclusive. The day of the fight was one I will never forget. There were a lot of rumors. One of the most damaging rumors was the cancelation of the event, which was invalid. But Henk was a good Promoter. He had all the correct papers and got an OK from the Mayor and the Police before the event occurred.
Did the major of Emmen get a kickback?
Later, a rumor spread that the mayor “has a kick back” a free cruise with his family as a bribe. But of course, the little town of Emmen had never experienced so much press. It was only known for the local Zoo, so the local political officials were under much pressure.
One day before the event started, I hardly slept, and to make things worse, I drank sour milk, which caused my stomach to perform all kinds of weird and gross spasms. I sat down at the Press Conference, and there were more cameras than I have ever witnessed at all previous Thai Boxing shows combined. My body felt horrible, and I asked Henk if he could do the talking. The horror, I was sitting there like a zombie, with no sleep and feeling like death had becometh. With a stomach ache so bad that that of The Exorcist, Linda Blair could only rival the projectile vomiting.
The fire department got a phone call?
The following day, we had a meeting with the Fire Department. As the event occurred in Sports Hal Zuid Oost, we had to follow the safety procedures. We had to build all the seats for the spectators safely.
The Fire Department, who in the first few months were constructive and very enthusiastic, said OK to all our plans. Still, now they were under pressure from the Dutch politician Erica Terpstra. In Fight Sports, they describe her in Holland as the ‘fat elephant .’ Erica Terpstra won some swimming medals at the Olympics in 1964. But according to some fighter rumors, she turned into a fat cow politician. Because of her “forbidden” supplements, she took to become so successful at swimming.
Ministery of Sports “elephant” Eric Terpstra call Cage Fighter Sport Barbaric.
She publicly called the sport ‘barbaric’ and would do anything to stop it. After she tried everything else, I am sure she ended up at the Fire Department in Emmen to stop our Cage Fight in Emmen. The Fire Department Chief said after inspecting the venue and the seats that we ‘need to have fire stairs every 6 meters’ (we had 10 meters). But at that time, two months before the event. When we showed our drawings and plans, the Fire Department approved our plan. They knew we could not change this seating plan on the day of the event. If we could not change this, they had to cancel the event.
A Brilliant improvising moves to push the Cage Fight Tournament to happen.
I quickly developed a new doctrine, ‘where there is a problem, there is a solution. My ears lead me to some woodchippers cutting trees out back behind the Event Hall.
I asked them if they could come and I showed them our problem. Let them see up the tribe seats to make a walking path every 6 meters. I asked the guy who built the centers how much it would cost if I would cut some of his seats and then made a deal with him. And I promised him some VIP seats.
They started to sawing away, and after two hours, I had my 6-meter escape stairs as was requested by the Fire Department. When the Fire Department came, their mouths were speechless. Finally, the commander said it has to be approved by a commission before we can allow people to use these. At that time, it was 1-hour before the doors would be open. Outside there was already a lineup of 2500+ people.
I told the commander of the fire department that here is the key. You want to keep this place locked, fine. Let me put my cameras on the roof in front of the building now. Some people who drove from all over Europe for this event will not be too happy with your decision. I’m sure we can expect a vast brawl, only now right in front of the entrance door without referees, and you are responsible for that?
Then the doors opened, and the public entered the venue.
The event was a success. Dutch Willy Peeters won the event with three short stoppages and 20,000 dollars. I invited Bob Wall (movie star actor in Bruce Lee movies) and Chris Peeters, Chris’s father, John Peeters, once married to Barbra Streisand and former executive of Sony Pictures. They did an excellent commentator job! The Dutch press who came was less happy; newspapers wrote:”
Public screams for Blood, Public not satisfied at Cage fight and Cage fight with a high dose of hugging”.
The press screwed themselves, and they expected a blood bath. But with two referees present and many martial arts judges and officials. The event was without incidents.
Newspaper-The Volkskrant: “The Public Screams for Blood during the Cage-fights”
Newspaper NRC: Controversial Cage Fighting recipe for world Peace
The police even said that we could come back anytime they had not one single fight or incident outside the Cage. The reality was that some of the journalists were not satisfied. They could not get the bloody right shots. They wanted to supply their newspapers with jaded headlines. Some changed their tune entirely and wrote favorable articles about the atmosphere of the first Cage Fight and the athletes. After the fight, some severe money came in.
It was raining money.
I sold 250K worth of minutes just to the news outlets and talk shows. Plus, another 80K I made upfront for video distribution, just for the Netherlands, selling my rights to Jack Pijnman video distributors. Later I sold the rights to Germany and other countries and a few other TV deals. The Cage Fight Series made over half a million guilders in less than six months.
It was time for another Cage Fight, and I requested the Mayor of Eindhoven and Den Bosch to hold an event in those cities. We pal to organize in Den Bosch first, but we, the local government, refused. According to the Mayor and Police, we can not guarantee public safety. I was young then and could not believe this bullshit, so I went to court. My ego got a boost because we won the court case. And they could not stop the event because of public safety. I had the testimonies of the police in Emmen that everything went without incident during our previous event in Emmen, so the judge ruled in my favor.
I won the court case, so I thought, you can fight the establishment.
Or so I thought I won, but I learned a good lesson. It will always succeed if the government does not want something to happen. When I asked for permission to hold the event in Den Bosch, They stopped the event on a ‘morality/chasteness’ clause. I could not believe what I heard, so I fought again and brought it to court. This time my Lawyer was from Bram Moszkovitc’s Law Firm. He sent one of his lawyers, Mr. de Jong, who had a terrible stutter. After listening to Mr. de Jong’s stutter for two hours, the judge told me I was presenting my case to the wrong judge. The judge could have said that from the beginning. He said it was something for civil rights, and I had to present my story to them.
The government uses Morality and Chasteness to stop our Cage Fighting Tournament in Holland.
I then wanted to take the written statement from my Lawyer, but he refused. I took it anyway and delivered it to the address of the civil court. Then Moszkovits called Henk and me. He said he needed another 10.000 guilders in advance. I ask him for what? He said to prepare the story for Civil Court. We explained to him he would not get a penny. In an angry tone, we asked him if he was sick in the head. First, he sends an employee who has a terrible stutter. This stutter made a 15-minute speech would take two hours. Then he makes a mistake by going to the wrong court, and finally, for just one postage stamp, he’s asking 10.000 guilders?
He then said, ‘he would send a team of collectors to get this money!
The corrupt Lawyer with a black belt in Judo learns a lesson.
In a phone call, I explained to “our” Lawyer I would deliver his message to the Cage Fighters. I made a “joke” that he might have to use his black belt judoka skills to roll with some of the fighters. Maybe they do not understand his way of doing business? The collectors never came!
The Lawyer Moszkovits was shady. He has received multiple complaints in several high-profile cases. Finally, on the 30thth of October 2012, the Dutch Order ruled that Lawyer Moszkovits could no longer practice law!
I changed lawyers; it’s a waste of time and money.
The result was proceeding with another local lawyer from Eindhoven, my case, and we had to go to court when the day came. I was full of confidence, but I was about to find out how the system worked. My Lawyer argued that there was a ‘Hennep (weed) Fair’ in Den Bosch. And also, the group Rockbitch was allowed. This “Rockbitch” was a rock band of all girls playing almost naked, waving their breasts around, and throwing golden condoms to the audience. The one who catches the condom could screw one of the band members. No one remembers the few notes of music they produced).
The Golden Condom, this is bullshit.
My Lawyer’s argument is, “look at the Hennip fair and the rock band Rockbitch.” this is “normal” and allowed in Holland. I mentioned they should not stop my fighting event because of morality/chasteness. The judge would rule in favor of halting the events. They stopped the circumstances because the government had used morality/chasteness. I lost my cool (a bad thing to do in court). Too loud, I almost screamed to the judge this was ‘retarded’; this would mean my Cage fighters should walk up to the cage with a Pan/Skin Flute-playing some dull song. I should name the Event a music concert, so it would not be a problem.
A Cage Fighter with a Pan/Skin Flute?
The whole courtroom started laughing, including many journalists that were present. But the judge was not amused, and he had made up his mind (or had it made up for him). So the ruling was unfavorable. The order meant the ending of Cage Fights in Holland. All districts would now, of course, use the same arguments to stop events from happening in their community. That’s how it worked.
I saw my potential millions/billions vanishing. I could not believe what I heard. Morality/chasteness? ‘This is Holland for F… S…..’. Later, I did produce one more Cage Fight Event on “Dutch” soil. The event took place on the beautiful island of Aruba (see the chapter in my book, birth of Golden Glory).
“Entrepreneur under fire” was my headline in a Dutch Magazine about entrepreneurs (Drieluik)!
In this magazine interview, I predicted that the investor who would back me up would make a lot of money. Fast forward two decades:
Dana White on $4 billion UFC sale: ‘Sport is going to the next level.’
Fast forward two decades after my first Cage Fighting Championship in Antwerp, Belgium. Holland, Jan 5th, 2016-City, Rotterdam gives a permit for the UFC to stage an event in Holland!
New Investors and advertisers pay attention here. Feel free to contact me.
How I became a successful manager in the Fight Business!
(C) Bas Boon www.basboon.com