Ramon “the Diamond” Dekkers was a legendary thaiboxer from the Netherlands. What Muhammad Ali was to boxing or Diego Maradona to soccer, Ramon was for thaiboxing. An athlete who always pursued excellence and perfection; a fighter whose heart was greater than his bodily power. A true game changer who introduced the boxing techniques into Muay Thai. His system was so effective that he, as as farang (foreigner), beat the Thai in their national sport. Ramon was the first foreigner in Thailand to be chosen as the “Muay Thai Fighter of the Year”. The award was presented to him on 15 September 1990 by the prime minister of Thailand, general Chatichai Choonhavan. As an eight time world champion and with a record of more than 200 fights (never being knocked out), Ramon became a living legend and created thaiboxing history.
In 2012, on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the King of Thailand, Ramon received a royal award from the Thai Royal Family for his services to the sport. The Dutchman was also appointed ambassador of all foreign fighters in Thailand. “This is very important to me. It is the greatest recognition that I can get for what I have achieved in this sport,” said Dekkers, after the presentation by the Thai princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, the eldest daughter of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He was so touched by this that he decided he wanted to give back to the country that had given him already so much. He went to an orphanage and gave the children gifts. But he wanted to do more and decided to start his own foundation. When Ramon passed away on February the 27th 2013, his familly and friends decided to fulfill his wish and start the foundation in his name.
In 2012, on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the King of Thailand, Ramon received a royal award from the Thai Royal Family for his services to the sport. The Dutchman was also appointed ambassador of all foreign fighters in Thailand.
“This is very important to me. It is the greatest recognition that I can get for what I have achieved in this sport,” said Dekkers, after the presentation by the Thai princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, the eldest daughter of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
He was so touched by this that he decided he wanted to give back to the country that had given him already so much. He went to an orphanage and gave the children gifts. But he wanted to do more and decided to start his own foundation.
When Ramon passed away on February the 27th 2013, his familly and friends decided to fulfill his wish hand start the foundation in his name.
Ramon Dekkers is born on September 4th 1969 in Breda, The Netherlands. He started training martial arts at the age of 12 After trying out judo and boxing Ramon decided to train Muay Thai under Cor Hemmers. Cor became a father figure to Ramon and trained him his whole career. Cor also married the mother of Ramon and Carlo. Together, they got a son named Nieky.
At 16 years of age, Ramon had his first fight winning on a spectacular knockout against a well-established older boxer. Although, only weighting about 55 kg, his opponents found out sooner than later he was much stronger than he looked. As Dekkers kept on winning his matches by knockout, his reputation of a an as up-and-coming fighter spread in the Muay Thai community.
On 18 February 1990, Dekkers truly moved onto the world stage. In the French capital Paris, he faced the reigning champion Nongkee Pahuyuth. He inflicted a rare defeat on Namphon after five rounds, taking the IMF World Light Welterweight title. Throughout the bout, Dekkers controlled the fight, scoring two knockdowns. The two fighters would meet again two months later in a rematch in Bangkok, Thailand. This time the Dutchman, who just had knocked out the number 1 ranked Lumpinee fighter Cherry S. Wanich in Amsterdam, was unable to defeat Namphon and lost a close decision. He returned to Thailand the same year to meet Issara Sakkreerin in a losing bid for Sakkreerin’s Lumpinee Stadium Lightweight title.
The most notable rival of Dekkers was multiple Lumpinee champion and living legend Coban Lookchaomaesaitong. In their first encounter on 21 April 1991, Dekkers was knocked out with a left hook. This would be the first of four meetings between the men from 1991 to 1993, in what became one of the biggest feuds in Muay Thai history. In the rematch, Dekkers won in highlight worthy fashion via devastating knockout. In the third outing of their rivalry, Dekkers was defeated by decision after five gruelling rounds, but he won the fourth and final fight evening his score against Coban. The Coban vs. Dekkers fights have been rated as the best by any standards, by Muay Thai fans worldwide.
On 18 March 2001, Ramon Dekkers fought his farewell fight against Marino Deflorin in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Which he won in the fourth round on KO. After the fight, Ramon joined his Golden Glory team members center stage for a finale, Rob Kaman came down the rampart, presenting a Golden Glory torch to Dekkers, who in turn passed it to each team member, as video clips of his victories were shown on the display screens. With this passing Ramon symbolicly gave his fighting spirit to the next generation of fighters of the legenday team.
Ramon always fought no matter what. He didn’t want to dissapoint his fans and the promotors. When his shoulder was dislocated in a fight, he put it back himself. And when he fought Duane Ludwig in K-1 Max in 2005, he had ripped off his ligament in his right shoulder. A good reason not to fight. But not Ramon, he knew how important it was for Ludwig to fight Ramon, as Ludwig was a big fan of the legend. Ramon decided to fight with one arm and knocked down Ludwig every round, winning by decision.
Text en photo’s: Roy van der Wal, President, Diamond Dekkers Foundation.
Just a few months before he passed away, Ramon Dekkers received a Royal award from the Thai Royal family. During the Christmas holidays he and his wife Ilona visited a local orphanage. In an interview with Mixfight.nl Ramon said:
“In Thailand I realized more and more that this country has become my motherland. I feel at home and am aware that I have always earned my money here and had my happy moments here. (…) The children without parents who end up in an orphanage caught my attention. The things I have done with my wife Ilona made us feel very good. I can’t save the world at once, but to me it seems like a good idea to start with a orphanage in the country where I have always earned my money, with the people who truly appreciate me.”
Ramon couldn’t realize his dream, but his Wife and Ilona decided to carry on with a few others. And thus The Diamond Foundation is being established in Thailand, with the main purpose of supporting the orphanages in the ‘motherland’ of Ramon Dekkers.
Shortly after Ramon passed away t-shirts where being printed with the text “The Diamond is Forever”, referring to the nickname of Dekkers. The gaining will be donated to the foundation and thus the orphanages in Thailand. By now many shirts have been sold and in April I visited Pattaya Orphanage to donate.
With milk and cash I went on my way to the Pattaya Orphanage, which is easily being found near the Sukhumvit Road. The Pattaya Orphanage was established on September 22 1974 and made possible by Redemptorist Fr. Raymond A. Brennan, a group of American military officers who donated a sum of 500.000 Thai Baht (around €12.500,-) and the religious Sisters of St. Paul de Chartre caring for the babies the first 5 years.
On arrival at the Pattaya Orphanage I think this will be just a matter of giving products, cash and leave after 20 minutes. The Thai man who talks with me takes his time. He explains the way things go in the orphanage. Pattaya Orphanage is a large family with about 180 children; the youngest ones are baby’s (just a few weeks old) and the oldest ones are in their early twenties. From ages 3 to 4, the young ones receive pre-school education within the Orphanage. After three years in kindergarten it is time for the children to go to school, with their ‘brothers and sisters’.
After I have explained my intentions the Thai man shows me around the baby room and this leaves a great impression…
The young baby’s and toddlers crawl and walk around free and in the room are many attendants busy with them. I notice the children need a lot of attention because many of them try to cling on and I pick one of them up to walk around a bit. The moment I make an attempt to put the baby back the baby immediately starts to cry. As soon as I pick the baby up the sadness disappears and a smile appears. Instead of 20 minutes I stay for more then 2 hours. I talk with the attendants. They tell me that some of the children stay until their early twenties and that many earn a master degree at the University! Some of the children are being adopted. This process of adoption is a long one but according to the attendants this has a very simple but legit reason “These are our children and we want to make sure that they go to the right families!”.
With my own eyes I have seen that Pattaya Orphanage and the employees/volunteers do everything within their power to make sure that the children are being taken care off as good as possible. Every Euro, Dollar or Thai Baht is begin well spend!
Golden Glory kickboxer Gökhan Saki generously donated € 5.000,- to the Diamond Foundation. His gift honors Ramond Dekkers and helps the orphans in Thailand. Ramon Dekkers was an inspiration and friend to Saki, who as a youngster was trained by Ramon and says to owe a lot of his succes to him.
Initially, Gökhan’s donation was made anonymously. However, we’ve asked him to make his gift public and let the world know about it. Because, in our opinion, Gökhan Saki is a great sportsman and an inspiring example for young people and other athletes.
Golden Glory TV interview with the formal ‘King of Pancrase’ Bas Rutten from the forthcoming documentary about Ramon Dekkers - THE LEGEND OF MUAY THAI. Here’s a big statement from him about our friend Ramon in a powerful message to the Dutch government.