Dutch kickboxing hero Andy Souwer is all set for his ONE Super Series debut, and the multi-time world champion says he can’t wait to get started.
Souwer will face off against Anthony “The Assassin” Njokuani in a lightweight kickboxing contest at ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES in Bangkok, Thailand on Saturday, 6 October, and the veteran says he is excited to showcase his elite-level striking skills in Asia once again.
“I love Asia, I love the people, and I love the way they respect each other compared to in the West,” he says.
“I was following ONE Championship on social media, and I just thought, ‘Wow, these guys are good – really humble and focused on martial arts – not only the marketing.’ I think they have the heart for [martial arts] and the martial artists, not just dollars.”
Back then, ONE exclusively promoted mixed martial arts bouts, but now, following the advent of ONE Super Series, the world’s premier kickboxing and Muay Thai athletes have the chance to compete in front of the organization’s global audience.
When ONE came calling to see if Souwer fancied competing in their new striking league – and after some encouragement from his wife – the Dutchman leapt at the chance.
“To be honest, I said to my wife I wanted to quit after my last fight,” he explains.
“I started a little business – a totally different thing, for parties and events. I said to her, ‘You know what, give me one more fight in China to earn some money so I can inject my money into my new business, but don’t forget to email ONE because the owner [ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong] asked why my manager was not answering his emails.’
“To make a long story short, [my manager] emailed ONE and came back and said I could fight for two years, for eight fights, everywhere in Asia.
“I asked my wife, ‘What shall I do?’
“She said, ‘You love Asia, right? Is the money good?’
“I said, ‘Yes, but I just started a new business…’
“She put her own work aside to help with the new business for two years, and that’s why I decided to do it. I was really happy.”
Souwer’s ONE Super Series debut could deliver one of the most entertaining bouts of the night. American Njokuani is a seasoned mixed martial arts competitor who has since transitioned to striking arts and seen success.
Souwer knows he holds a huge experience advantage in the sport of kickboxing, but also acknowledges his need to be wary against a dangerous opponent with heavy hands.
“The sport is evolving, and so are the Americans,” he explains.
“I can’t stay still, and I can’t look back and say I am the same guy as [I was] 10-15 years ago. I’m realistic enough to say that. I know that I’m much more experienced and it’s only about the mental game.
“Physically, I’m still strong. I’m one of the best guys on the mat. I’m still one of the most dedicated and disciplined guys, but it’s all about how I get the right feelings and focus for my fights. That’s what I’m doing now.”
Victory for Souwer could set him up for some marquee matchups in ONE Super Series, with the two-time K-1 World Max Champion familiar with the likes of Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, Chris “The African Warrior” Ngimbi, who he has defeated before, and Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan, who he has faced twice.
A win over Njokuani may well see him reignite an old rivalry or two as he looks to take on the biggest bouts, and the best opponents, in ONE Super Series.
“They are good, top-level fighters,” he says.
“I’m happy with that, I’m happy for them, and I’m happy for the organisation with those big names.”