Boxing is alive in the Netherlands12 October 2016
The Dutch Boxing Association is showing what a young, enthusiastic and energetic governing board can bring about in a national sports organization. For 24 years the boxers have been missing on Olympus, but under the inspiring leadership of the experienced coach Hennie van Bemmel hard work has shown to be fruitful. Within two years, it has produced an assembly of a core team, training in the Papendal sports center in Arnhem and consisting of Peter Müllenberg and Enrico Lacruz as the first representatives of a new boxing generation. In women’s boxing the process started even earlier. Nouchka Fountain – eventually a silver medalist in Rio – began the intensive process led by Abdul Fkiri a year previous.
Max van der Pas, Roy Korving, Nouchka Fontijn, Peter Mullenberg en Enrico Lacruz
After the Games in Brazil it was established by the Olympic Committee that the Netherlands, a small boxing nation, proudly took fifth place in the medal ranking among European countries. Behind Uzbekistan and Cuba the European standard – bearer France ranked third, followed by Russia, Britain, Kazakhstan – all much larger boxing nations. The Netherlands is then surprisingly in twelfth place, outranking larger countries such as Germany. Given the available modest resources a top performance!
This revival is part of the progressive policies of the Dutch Boxing Association.
Late 2013, a renewal of the former full-time women’s program was initiated with the support of the Dutch Olympic Committee. The Boxing Association led a new project for both men’s and women’s boxing. Twelve of the best coaches came together who opted unanimously for a technical triumvirate headed by Hennie van Bemmel, who initially was supported by Ton Dunk and André de Klerk. These practices created broad support.
Ton Dunk, Hennie van Bemmel en André de Klerk
Clarity for the boxers was also provided by the implementation of a boxing pyramid for men and women. Every boxer in the Netherlands knows the performance standard required to get into, and remain in, a certain category.
Although the initial phase yielded some skeptics among the member bodies, it was shown that the clearly stated objectives were soon realized. An increasing interest from the board in the boxing schools and clubs supported the acceptance of new methods. The energetic president Boris van der Vorst has indicated that he will visit all clubs (about 100), will participate in the training and will have a conversation with the club’s boards. He will be accompanied each time by one of the other board members. Once every two months, the Board of the Boxing Association meets at one of its clubs.
Last year, some very special events were organized. In December, the Dutch Boxing Association made use of the circus ring in Ahoy Rotterdam, where many events were organized in the past, including the European Championships heavy westerners between the Dutchmen Rudy Koopmans and Alex Blanchard for over 10,000 avid boxing enthusiasts.
Kerst Boksgala in de circuspiste van Ahoy Rotterdam
Furthermore, the Dutch Boxing Association recently organized the European Championships for Women (2011) and the European Championships for Youth (2013). This year again the Netherlands put out a bid to host the European Championships for Women, as well as being interested in the European Championships for Men.
In addition to the busy schedule in the area of top-level sport, activities in many other areas are being developed. A new program “Out of the Box” for people over 65, is a logical continuation of the activities for young people. These activities have a socio-cultural background. Also new is the development of a project for Alzheimer’s patients. Lastly, to facilitate the step from recreational boxer into the boxing gym a collaboration with the company Optisport has been started, where trainers with the trainer license issued by the Boxing Association introduce boxing to participants, getting them acquainted with the sport of boxing in a playful manner.
Of course, the Dutch Boxing Association still has a number of dreams and goals, especially internationally. Firstly, ensuring participation of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, secondly hosting a major international championship and thirdly, having better representation in the committees of the international federations EUBC and AIBA.
A nice side effect is the attendance of King Willem Alexander, Queen Maxima, the princesses and members of the government of the Olympic boxing tournament in Rio de Janeiro, enthusiastically taking a picture with president Boris van der Vorst.