Micromanagement in The Fight Game, Alistair Overeem. People who take things personally should tame their egos, starting with myself. In this blog, I write about fighters and my experience with soldiers like Mark Kerr, Kevin Randleman, and Alistair Overeem. The rise and fall of fighters, success, disappointment, and addiction.
In Recife, Brazil, on January 21st, 1997, two days after the American heavyweight Mark Kerr fought a 30-minute bare-knuckle war with Fabio Gurgel at the WVTC 3. I am on a boat on my way to an island. I and Frederico Lapaneda, Mark Kerr, Mark Coleman, some other big-name fighters in the speedboat, and myself with Frederico Lapenda. It is a good life, beaches, beautiful girls, motorboats, and the fame and fortune lifestyle that every youngster dreams of.
Mark Kerr dominates the Fight Game. He starts his undefeated winning streak of 15-0 in WVTC, the U.F.C. (2x U.F.C. Heavyweight Tournament winner), and Pride F.C. It earns him the name “The Smashing Machine,” “The Titan,” and “The Specimen.”
It’s now 2000, and Kerr is losing for the first time against Kazuyuki Fujita. And from that moment on, it’s downhill. There are a few more losses, and it’s 2001, and Kerr is absent from the ring for three years. His comeback is unsuccessful and results in many more failures.
With addiction comes the losing streak.
In Kerr’s next ten fights (starting in 2004), he can only win twice. The revelation came in 2003 for his break from being an active fighter. Mark Kerr is again in the picture. As a junky in the HBO documentary “The Smashing Machine.” Unfortunately, this documentary has nothing positive left to say as we can see Mark Kerr shooting himself before the cameras. The steroid use, addiction to painkiller medication, and a toxic relationship left a fraction of the once glorious king of No Hold Barred.
Bas Rutten explains that one of the reasons for Mark Kerr’s downfall in the Fight Game was that tournament directors removed Kerr’s weapons. Such as no knees to a grounded opponent and no headbutts. The truth is that Mark Kerr never really had been guided. He was Team Kerr. The future star was a successful young wrestler coming into the N.H.B. scene. He started to make a lot of money at a very young age. Success and media attention with nobody to guide his path became Kerr’s downfall. This road is typical of a fighter who should have been micromanaged. The Smashing Machine needed guidance every step he took (“micromanagement” as much as possible).
The result of this guidance (babysitting) could have been one of the greatest fighters of all time. I felt horrible after seeing the documentary. It was a massive contrast from the victory party on the boat to an island with Mark Coleman and other friends. I felt like I was staring right into the abyss with him. It was painful to watch.
However, I admire Mark Kerr for being honest and showing his struggle. The documentary may have helped other athletes see how fast things can change on the positive side. It would help if you had a plan for the future, perhaps be entrepreneurial. It also shows his humanity. Everyone has struggles. Hopefully, it allowed people to think twice about their choices in life.
Hollywood loves drama, and more than two decades later, The Rock announces a movie about the life of Mark Kerr.
Mark Kerr is battling addiction.
In Golden Glory, I also had cases of some fighters who needed micromanagement. And the moment they went their way, it was the beginning of their downfall. Soldiers who just turned 20 would receive 100.000 $ cash and buy a car of 120.000. They came to borrow 20.000 as an advance on their next fight.
I remember one fighter who made 900K in one year and ended up with 200.000- debt. Another famous fighter from my Team kept borrowing money and demanding advances for his next fights. I followed him and ended up in the Holland Casinos. Being a lousy gambler is one thing. But his excellent career and name were rapidly in free fall as his mindset was on planet gambling.
Mohamed Ouali was a Dutch Thai boxer who started as a trainer at the American Top Team. He told me he quit as a trainer after fighters bought expensive cars and did not pay him for the training. They would do this after the next fight. Unfortunately, this happens too often in the Fight Game (sounds familiar?).
In the documentary “The Hurt Game,” we see samples of famous fighters losing control because of excessive usage of steroids and painkillers. Some sports icons are starting to combine coke, alcohol, and steroids. And famous by many fighters are attending infamous afterparties. The result is fighters who once were household names in the Fight Game Business turning into zombies. The fighters would lose respect for themselves and their loved ones.
I often hung out with Kevin Randleman (they once fought for the U.F.C. title against Bas Rutten in the finals). His downfall was a similar path as Mark Kerr took. In the case of Kevin, we can see a pattern that I have seen in my Team as well. Using steroids, opioids, and other substances causes health and mental problems. It often leads to a suspension after they are found positive by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Problems with the law in 2007, Randleman was arrested for D.U.I. and other charges. The worse news came in in February 2011 when Kevin Randleman died (once nicknamed “the Monster”) from a heart attack only at the age of 44 (R.I.P.). I knew Kevin, and I am convinced he would have been in the WWE or movies if he had been micromanaged in the Fight Game. I always kept everything out of the press and went to great lengths to accomplish this. In other cases, I let the fighters go. Mostly they blame the management for their bad habits. And then basically resign and choose their path. I do not know one soldier who became successful after leaving the Team.
Leaving the Team and being successful means becoming a champion and a winner.
Let’s get clear about micromanagement. The term may have a negative connotation. But in the sense of a fighter, we always had their best interest in mind. We were trainers, business managers, nutritionists, mentors, trainers, friends, and father figures. You get it. And more often than not, a fighter needs a lot of guidance and micromanagement.
What I did to micromanage some of my fighters in Golden Glory
Some fighters need to be micromanaged. One of those fighters within our Team was Errol Zimmerman. When Zimmerman prepared, he was the most dangerous fighter out there. Errol kicked the hardest of all combatants and had a knockout in both hands. Many of his early fights ended in dishes in the first round, so Errol did not take good preparation seriously. When we micromanaged him, it almost resulted in him winning the K-1GP. Everybody can remember the half-finals against Badr Hari.
But I often had sleepless nights with Cor Hemmers, the trainer. When Errol escaped from our micromanagement efforts, some fighters we locked up in the Golden Glory office for three weeks. So they could not sneak out or go into the nightlife. Imagine the lengths we would go to in the Fight Game Business to keep the Team intact. Once we got a phone call from the police two days before, we had to travel to the final 8 K-1 GP finals in Tokyo, Japan. They arrested Errol Zimmerman because he kissed a policewoman. She filed for a sexual harassment accusation. These were the types of incidents we had to handle daily. There is not an inadequate bone in Errol’s body. But the policewoman was trying to intervene in a nightclub brawl. And Errol, just being Errol, calmed the whole situation down by kissing the police officer.
Errol Zimmerman Sexual Harassment case kissing a policewoman.
The fighting bunch now all started laughing except for us as management. We had to write letters to the justice officer, explaining this was all a misunderstanding, etc. The police released Errol three hours before the plane took off. Another famous incident that got worldwide press was with Alistair Overeem.
We are saving a career of a famous fighter through micromanagement.
The fantastic thing about Cor Hemmers and myself was our expertise gained from these situations. We knew which officer of the justice we should contact and how to withhold something from the press. But sometimes we get a surprise as well. Even in the case of convictions, we manipulated the judge to go for probation and a work task as punishment. That work task sentence place would then be at a specific appointed group. That group happened to be in the same building as the Golden Glory gym was based (so the fighters could keep training).
Overeem knocks out five bouncers and then himself.
Cor and I were informed of the incident with Alistair just an hour after he was arrested, so we started to work. Now people should understand that Alistair was supposed to fight for the Strikeforce title in the U.S. Alistair sustained severe injuries on his hands during his brawl with five bouncers. He could not be 100% fit to fight for the title in time for the planned date in the U.S.
Alistair did not realize that behind the scenes, we had lawyers working on the case 24/7. And we had talks with one of the bouncers, who eventually withdrew his case with the justice department. Alistair would have been convicted of an assault if this case had gone to court. As an athlete and fighter, he should have known better. But this is the Fight Game Business; every day is full of surprises.
Kickboxing already had a bad reputation in the Netherlands. Any judge would have loved to make an example of a famous fighter with several titles on their name. The incident could have been in the headlines. The fighter uses his trained skills to demolish five bouncers. He should know better. Alistair walked without a conviction because one of the bouncers withdrew his complaint, and another changed his testimony. If we had not micromanaged this situation, he would have been convicted of assault. Alistair would never have received a working permit to fight in the U.S. again. He would not have made one Dollar in the U.F.C.
Does the Big change come when the U.F.C. buys Strikeforce?
A lot of things changed. One of those things was the payment system. Scott paid the management. The management paid the trainers. And we ensured we would pay outstanding bills, especially lawyers’ costs. The moment this changed, I knew it was over—no more micromanagement. No control. This change would make a big part of the Team break apart.
I remember being at the fight in Texas between Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum. For the first time in 15 years, they did not give me a backstage pass (the U.F.C. took over, micromanaging the event). I then decided not to make a big point of this. So I was invited by Peter Levin (now president of interactive ventures and games at Lionsgate) to sit ringside with one of his friends. When I sat there, I waited for Alistair Overeem’s entrance. And suddenly, I was approached by the U.F.C. lawyer at that time Michael Mersch. He yelled, hey, your fighter is wearing a shirt sponsor. We explained you could not wear sponsors’ clothing without the approval of the U.F.C.
They showed Alistair on T.V. and on the big screens behind the scenes before he walked up to the ring. I told Merch, well, look, you did not want me to be with him backstage. You told me explicitly not to micromanage him (he even used those exact words). I am a paid customer here in the audience. It would be best if you told him yourself. Welcome to the Fight Game, Mr. Mersh.
I am being correct in micromanagement but mismanaging the situation.
It’s now a year later, and I made the U.F.C. contract for Alistair Overeem. After finalizing the agreement, I got into a dispute with the U.F.C. and Alistair, which I later settled (exact details in my book). What stood out were the problems The U.F.C. got after Overeem was not micromanaged anymore. The U.F.C. lawyer Merch said you should not micromanage your fighters too much. Sometimes you have to let them go.
Ironically, Alistair would not even be allowed to enter the U.S. without micromanagement.
The number of problems occurring and building up was staggering as he did not have the Golden Glory management and the Team behind him.
After sending another wannabe manager home, he could not find himself with team Extreme Couture or the Black Zillions and wanted to do his own management.
U.F.C. Stud Alistair Overeem Charged with Battering A Woman.
Alistair not only started to suffer from nasty knockout losses but got suspended for a failed drug test.
You can hear Danna White screaming in the press.
I am beyond pissed, says Dana White about Overeem’s failed drug test.
At this point, I can’t help myself. The old Bas Boon took over “the Ego” and begged to speak out. The one who always needs to be correct. Michael Merch did not approve the Golden Glory Logo on the shorts of our fighters when the U.F.C. bought Strikeforce. And he lectured me on micromanagement. This Golden Glory logo was never a problem with Scott Cocker before the U.F.C. took over Strikeforce. You could say the U.F.C. was micromanaging the situation. After all the bad press in the U.S. about Alistair Overeem, I wrote Michael Merch an email:
In a short email, I explained to Michael Merch that sometimes it is better to MICROMANAGE a fighter.
I could not help myself from doing this and later even talk about Jon Bones Jones having a similar path of doom without being micromanaged. I do not hold a grudge towards Alistair Overeem as I can put myself in his shoes. The Fight Game can be ruthless; Alistair did not get his money from becoming a K-1 Champion. Then again no money for his Dream Title fight. The K-1 bankruptcy. Lots of promises. At least I made him that contract with the U.F.C. I wished he would have become a U.F.C. champion. That would have made him the most accomplished fighter in the combat sport’s history.
Others within the Team Golden Glory held different thoughts. And I even had to prevent people from acting very unprofessional towards Alistair. I might even have saved his life with him knowing it. Some associated with Golden Glory still thought Alistair owed the Team. The emotions and ego took the lead for the worse, and I had to stop that.
I would rub it in people’s faces; I am always right.
I should have learned by that time, and I knew this: not to rub my “always being right” into people’s faces. After the separation of Alistair from the Team, I stayed away from the press. It is like a disease, a selfish form of showing to others that you are right and they are wrong.
This behavior will often lead to hatred and jealousy, which will only fire back. If I am telling you, I learned this the hard way and am lucky I am alive to tell this story. I stayed away from Fight Game forums and started to work on my inner peace by meditating and reading again. Yoga, breathing techniques, and above all, taming the E.G.O. changed my world positively! Micromanagement was applied to me by me with excellent results.
Quote by Bas Boon: People who take things personally should tame their egos
Always do your best and be humble with your opinions.
Some Sport Icons do not even realize that micromanagement saved their careers and lives!
What became the “smashing machine” Mark Kerr posted by Bobby Razak in 2015.
Fight Game Business The Power of Visualisation.
(C) Bas Boon www.basboon.com