“We’re the Gracie Family of Kickboxing!”
Now in their 35th year of producing world champion strikers, the Hemmers family were honored earlier this year by the unveiling of the ‘Ramon Dekkers Room’ in the newly-built UFC headquarters in Las Vegas.
Alistair Overeem, Semmy Schilt, Gokhan Saki and Heath Herring are just a few of the elite fighters to have trained under Cor Hemmers at the Hemmers Gym Institute in Breda, Netherlands over the years.
The team’s top-level success continues to the present day – resident lightweight Marat Grigorian owns the GLORY lightweight championship and UFC lightweight Mark Diakiese recently brought Nick Hemmers in to oversee his path to victory at UFC Copenhagen.
Earlier this year the team was also honored by the unveiling of a ‘Ramon Dekkers Room’ in the new UFC headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada. The facility has several meeting rooms named after iconic fighters – Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali are among them, an indication of the esteem UFC president Dana White ascribes to Dekkers’ place in fight-sport history.
In 2019, Hemmers Gym is celebrating 35 years of top-level achievement. The team’s story commenced in 1984 when family patriarch Cor Hemmers fought professionally, just as the sport of modern kickboxing was developing, and then became a trainer.
But it was when Hemmers crossed paths with a young Ramon Dekkers, who would go on to become his stepson, that a game-changing partnership was formed.
Dekkers blazed a trail for others to follow: not only was he one of the first Europeans to fight and win in Thailand, he also had a trademark explosiveness which made him a living legend for fight fans worldwide.
Dekkers, who in the 1990s blazed a trail for others to follow as he became one of the first Europeans to fight and win in Thailand, became a living legend during the 1990s because of his relentless aggression and explosive style.
To this day Dekkers, who passed away in 2013 aged just 43, remains an idol for fighters worldwide.
Ramon’s brother Carlo also trained under Cor – who was by this time married to their mother – and the two brothers were joined by a third when Nick Hemmers was born. All three brothers trained and competed under Cor, spending more time in the training ring than they did in the family home.
Fast-forward to 2019 and the Hemmers Gym training room is still producing world-class competitors.
“If you look at the history of kickboxing, my brother was someone who really brought it to another level of prominence. He set such a high standard, even today many fighters hold him up as an icon,” says Nick Hemmers, youngest of the three brothers and now the head trainer at Hemmers Gym.
“If you look at the Gracie family, how they developed [Brazilian] jiu jitsu and spread it, our family really did the same for kickboxing. We are the Gracies of kickboxing, really!”
In this 35th anniversary year, the Hemmers family is throwing open the doors of its headquarter gym in Breda for open days to the public, where a selection of Ramon’s trophies, belts and fight-winning shorts and gloves are on display.
The team is currently scouting locations in the USA ahead of opening the first Hemmers Gym USA facility and expects to add several more high-profile martial arts competitors to its list of students in the near future.
As part of their celebration of this 35th anniversary year, both Cor Hemmers and Nick Hemmers are available for interview to discuss any of their fighters past and present, their legacy in the sport and their crop of future prospects.