Gokhan Saki will be training with Badr Hari’s coach Mike Passenier going forward but remains part of the Golden Glory team, according to Cor Hemmers.
Hemmers is the head coach of the Golden Glory network and has been Saki’s coach since 2003. But since the middle of last year Hemmers’ has increasingly been transitioning into a role as an executive with the GLORY kickboxing promotion and this led to he and Saki sitting down last week and discussing their options.
Today there was heavy chatter on Twitter that Saki had “left Golden Glory” but Hemmers tells Fighters Only that is not the case. Saki has changed his training arrangements but this was by mutual agreement and best for both sides, he says.
“Saki is still Golden Glory team and Golden Glory management. But you know the situation with the GLORY promotion - we want to take over the kickboxing world and we want to be the greatest [promotion] so we have contracted the greatest fighters. They asked me to be the brand ambassador and matchmaker, a general advisor as well, so I have a lot on my plate with this. I am very ambitious and very enthusiastic about this,” he says.
“At the same time working with guys like Saki and Zimmerman at a high level it is very involved, it takes a lot of time and attention, every day one-on-one. Its simply too much. I discussed this with Saki and said maybe its better to have someone else in your corner as well, someone else to coach you and he agreed. And so one option was my son, but he is some years younger than Saki and he wanted someone older.
“So we considered some options like Ivan Hippolyte, Mike Passanier. So then we decided to go and make a trial workout with Mike Passenier in Amsterdam. I went with Saki to Mike’s Gym last Tuesday and I said to Mike that I need to stop jumping up on the ring and coaching and cornering, and if he could get along with Saki maybe he would like to help. So we trained with Mike, I had a short talk about the whole situation, that I’m stopping with coaching.
“He said ‘OK lets try it out, I’m happy with Saki in the team.’ And that was it. The situation is basically that I am stopped with coaching. I have my other job with GLORY and I am just too busy. And after 25 years jumping in the ring, in the corner, shouting at the guys… I am just too old, its been so long. I am 56 years old now. I need to finish it; I have a new goal and that is to establish GLORY around the world.
“But of course I remain in Breda and back up my son at the gym, he takes over the development of the new talent. And of course I still also control some things about the level of the fighters and the handling of the Golden Glory network of gyms. We have a lot of new guys coming through and my son will work with them. I will help him with that but I will not be in the corner any more. I have a show coming up, Saturday 30 June, I will be in the corner for Filip Verlinden and that will be my last time in anyone’s corner. After that you will only see me on television as an ambassador in a nice suit.
“But its a big goal for me. I’ve been in this game for thirty years and we always wanted this, me and my friend and colleague Bas Boon. It was our dream for thirty years to bring this to the level that it deserves, get it on television with the right sponsors and now we have the new investors we have the chance to do it and I am going to jump into this as the last part of my career.
“Zimmerman I will have a talk with this week but I was already talking to someone about him as well, so there will be a similar arrangement [as Saki] in the coming weeks I think.
At this point the conversation is interrupted by someone in the background on Hemmers’ end. After a short conversation in Dutch he returns and says the other voice in the background belonged to the legendary Ramon Dekkers. “It was my other son, Ramon. He was going out, he asked me to call him when we are finished on the phone,” he laughs.
When I visited the Golden Glory headquarters in Breda, Holland earlier this year there was no sign of Dekkers any day of the week. I learned that these days he is more often to be found off-road biking than he is in the gym. Having trained so much over the years he is, like many former fighters, a little burnt out with it and his mind on other things.
“He is still giving seminars around the world, he likes that more. I actually asked him did he want to take over from me and be the new head coach but he said ‘no, I did enough, I saw enough I achieved enough I this world. Let me do my thing. I like to do the seminars but in my free time I like to be on my bike and not in the ring corner any more.’” Hemmers reveals.
“The fighters like Saki and Errol deserve full attention every day. Its not that I cannot give it but with those guys you really have to be there every day, they are used to that with me, every day, including time with video and everything. I have more guys than Saki and Errol and I take one of the guys every day… its tough. I’m 56 now. I did this job a long time and I have some new goals now.
There was the option for my son to take over and Saki said I think your son has the skills, he has worked me on the pads, but in the corner I prefer someone older and I understand that because my son is five years younger than Saki. And so we said OK lets look another option and so we decided on Mike and we are both happy with it. Then I see all these rumours on Twitter, people saying Saki left, Alistair [Overeem] is saying Saki is gone from Golden Glory but its totally not the case, there’s no split, no bad feeling.”
Asked if Saki switching to a different trainer hurts the Golden Glory team, especially after the departures of Alistair Overeem and Siyar Bahadurzada recently, Hemmers says no. All teams go through ebb and flow and he thinks that room has simply been made for the new crop that are in development.
“No its going to be bigger because there is more space for the new people to come through and with the platform we are making now with GLORY, it gives them a chance to break through. Guys like Bonjasky and Aerts are still fighting but eventually they will not and new blood will come through. And they can really get a chance now,” he says.
“The time is right, we are bringing this new promotion which is doing a good job and all around the world we have gyms with new talent coming through but at the same time we still have the big names from the old days. So its a good time right now.”
GLORY has recently signed the likes of Remy Bonjasky, Peter Aerts, Girogio Petrosyan, Albert Kraus and more as it seeks to take over the number one spot in the kickboxing world from the ailing K-1, which Hemmers believes is “in its death throes”. Its a tough challenge, but Hemmers is very confident. “All my life, I was on the side of the champions,” he laughs. “And look who I am with now. I always back the champions, trust me.”