Dutch kickboxing ace Andy Souwer has been there, seen it, and done it all in martial arts, and now he hopes to add ONE Super Series gold to his packed trophy cabinet.
Thirty-five-year-old Souwer takes on Anthony “The Assassin” Njokuani at ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES on 6 October, where he plans on stealing the show with an eye-catching performance on his ONE Championship debut.
The Dutchman grew up in Den Bosch in the Netherlands and admits he had a good upbringing.
“I had a good youth. The only thing was, my dad was a guy who wanted to succeed in life, so he put a lot of pressure on me,” he says.
“I hated it at the time, but if I look back, I can only thank him for that. It wasn’t the best time when I put the pressure on myself because I didn’t want my father to see me as a failure.
“You know how it works, I was a little child looking up to my dad.”
Souwer struggled with asthma and allergies as a youngster, and a doctor recommended he find a sport to take up as a means to help him overcome his ailments.
As a result, Souwer took up swimming and soccer as a youngster and earned a spot on the youth team of a professional soccer club. Then his father offered him the opportunity to try something completely new.
“My dad said I should go and try combat sports because the other kids were doing the same and they were getting stronger,” he says.
“I had a lot of friends, but I was always the softy and getting bullied, so I think it was a bit tough for my dad.”
Souwer continued playing soccer, but also competed in kickboxing, where he earned good money. Back then, he was a teenager taking on grown men, and defeating them on a regular basis.
“When I was 14, we travelled to England to earn some money,” he explains.
“There was a guy. His name was Wright, a young guy of about 22. I was 14, but I won, of course. I was already fighting adults and already sparring hard with the A-class fighters in the gym at the time.”
Souwer was enjoying juggling the two sports of soccer and kickboxing, but injuries eventually forced him to make a decision about his athletic career.
“I was already earning about NLGƒ3000, which is approximately USD$1750 a bout, and then I injured my ankles when I was 17,” Souwer says.
“When I was 18, I decided to go to my dad to make a decision for me that I needed to quit doing soccer. [Because of the injury] I had to cancel a few fights, which was a lot of money at the time, so my dad said, ‘You need to choose kickboxing.’”
It proved to be a wise decision. Souwer’s rise as a young kickboxer in the Netherlands saw him featured alongside some of the sport’s legends.
“We had a Dutch promotion – a worldwide promotion – WPKL, World Professional Kickboxing League. I fought with guys like Ramon Dekkers, a lot of Thai fighters, and a lot of Dutch fighters, of course,” he says.
“I was happy when I was climbing the rankings and was noticed in magazines as a 16-year-old in the top 10. I was like, ‘Wow! I’m in a magazine!’ That was the spur I needed.”
Souwer went on to win a host of world championships as he compiled a record of 179-18-1. WPKA, ISKA and WKA World Championships, four Shoot Boxing S-Cup World Titles and two K-1 World MAX World Titles are testament to his skills built through a glittering kickboxing career.
“If I look back on this era, I can say every moment, every fighter had something,” he says.
“At that time it was, wow, the top tier, climbing up to the real deal like K-1 Max.”
Souwer’s career was a colossal success and, with the Dutchman working on his new party and events business, it seemed as if Souwer was ready for retirement.
Instead, he signed an eight-bout contract with ONE Championship to compete in ONE Super Series.
“I made the decision to do it once more, in ONE Championship, for two years,” he says.
“I will be focused, be the guy I want to be – and be Andy Souwer.”
He will face Njokuani in a ONE Super Series lightweight kickboxing bout on the stacked card at ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES in Bangkok.
If the Dutchman can roll back the years and produce another superb performance, he could find himself on the road to yet another World Title.