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The best Dutch boxers in history

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  • The best Dutch boxers in history

    Holland is a country famed for its' many world class kickboxers and MMA fighters, but not that many boxers. And only one Dutchman has so far won a world title: Regilio Tuur. Raymond Joval won the IBO and WBU middleweight title, but that doesn't count as they are not highly regarded, especially WBU. IBO has of course in the latter years gained some respect, but not back then when Joval held it. The first Dutchman to fight for a world title was Rudy Koopmans, the light heavyweight who won the European title and held it for a while. On the female side, Lucia Rijker was their most famous boxer. Eddy Smulders was a noted light heavyweight in the 90's who also won the Euro title and also for the WBA one, but unsuccessfully. Bep Van Klaveren was one of the first, if not the first, noted Dutch boxers, a welterweight who beat Ceferino Garcia and gave Young Corbett III two tough fights. Let's start the tour of Dutch boxing hall of fame!


    1. Regilio Tuur
    The only TRUE world boxing champion from The Netherlands, Regilio Tuur was actually born in Paramaribo, Suriname, 12 August 1967, but grew up in Hoogvliet in The Netherlands. At the 1988 Olympics, he shocked the world by knocking out the favorite Kelcie Banks of USA in 1 round, in the first round of competition. However, he lost in the quarterfinals on points to Daniel Dumitrescu of Romania, who then won the silver, at featherweight. Tuur was a rather hard puncher with good skills, but it took him a few years to develop into a true world class boxer as a pro. He won his first pro fight by TKO1, 27 July 1989. However, already in his ninth fight, he dropped a decision to Fernando Rodriguez, by MD6. He then went 20-0-1 before losing again to Calvin Grove, a much more experienced technician, by SD10 in March 1992. He won the Euro super feather title in December that year by decisioning Jacobin Yoma, but lost it in his second defense to the same man, on split decision in France, his opponent's homeland. He finally won his world title, the WBO one, against Eugene Speed on 24 September 1994, by UD12. He made six defenses, most notably knocking out contender Jose Vida Ramos in 1 round in the sixth one. He also stopped Pete Taliaffero in 5 and Luis Mendoza in 10 and then vacated his title and retired suddenly in early 1997. He came back in 2001 and after winning one fight, he fought against Orlando Salido in New York. In a very thrilling and close fight, Tuur was down in the eight and last round and lost by split decision to the much younger man. He retired for good in 2002 after two easy knockout wins. His record is 46 wins with 30 ko's, 4 losses and 1 draw. Since retiring, he has been involved in fashion business.

    2. Rudy Koopmans
    Koopmans was the first Dutch boxer in a long time to be successful as a pro. He's had a very good career and was unlucky in his only world title attempt. Koopmans was born 30 January 1948 in Leeuwarden, a city in the Freisland region of Holland. He turned pro in December 1972. After winning 26 fights, he fought Aldo Traversaro of Italy for the Euro title, but the fight was judged a draw, 15 February 1978. In the rematch on 7 March next year, Koopmans stopped Traversaro by TKO7 to become the European champion. He made ten defenses of the title in all, one of the longest European title reigns in history. On 29 November 1980, he fought the WBA champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad at the Olympic Auditorium in LA and after 3 rounds had to retire due to cuts, being behind on the scorecards. He beat the undefeated Hocine Tafer after that by TKO9 in another European title defense and then beat the undefeated Alex Blanchard, himself a future Euro-champion, by TKO8 in November 1982. He also knocked out one of the best German fighters back then, the 15-0 Manfred Jassmann, also in 8 rounds. After defending his title successfully for the tenth time against Frenchman Rufino Angulo on points in November 1983, on 2 February next year he lost it against Richard Caramanolis (a Frenchman of Greek heritage) after injuring his hand and having to quit on his stool after 8 rounds. He retired after this, aged 36 and with a record of 43 wins with 30 ko's, 2 draws and only 2 losses, both of them due to injuries. Since Koopmans never really lost "the real way", we can't know just how good he was, but he was definitely one of the best European light heavies of his time.

    3. Eddy Smulders
    Another fine light heavyweight, Smulders was the last Dutchman so far to fight for a world boxing title, to my knowledge at least. Born on 1 July 1963 in Eindhoven, his career was almost identical to Koopmans, due to the fact that they both held the Euro lhw title and both had one world title fight which they lost and Smulders also only lost twice. Known as "Fast Eddy", Smulders could also hit and scored 28 ko's in 37 victories. After turning pro in 1989, he won the Euro title in 1993 by beating the tricky Yawe Davis by TKO9 in Cassino, Italy. After making one tough successful defense that same year against Eric Nicoletta of France, he lost the title to another Frenchman-Fabrice Tiozzo, one of the best light heavies of that time. Smulders was knocked out in 7 in Lyon on 5 March 1994. He reclaimed his title against yet another Frenchman, Christophe Girard, brother of Bruno, by UD12 in 1995. After making three easy defenses by stoppage, he fought for the vacant WBA title against the American Lou Del Valle, 20 September 1997 in Aachen, Northern Germany. Smulders was stopped by TKO8. After winning two more fights, he retired in 1998 and came back for one more fight in 2005 against a journeyman, which he won by ko. He now has his own gym in Netherlands.

    4. Bep van Klaveren
    The only Dutchman who won an Olympic gold medal. Born as Lambertus Steenhorst on 26 September 1907 in Rotterdam, Holland's second largest city, he was known as Bep van Klaveren while boxing. He won the Olympic featherweight gold at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, beating the Argentinian Victor Peralta in the final on points. Klaveren was a tough technician who didn't have much power but counted on his skills and toughness to win. He made his name as a lightweight and welterweight after turning pro in 1929. On 19 July 1931, he won the Euro lightweight title by KO2 against Francois Sybille, at home in Rotterdam. He defended it 3 times, including a draw in a rematch against Sybille, before vacating it to become a welter. In his first major fight on 12 July 1933 in New York, he was stopped due to a cut in 4 rounds against famed contender Billy Petrolle. In 1934, he faced Ceferino Garcia first in October and lost to him on points, but in the rematch a month later, he won on points. He then had his first fight against Young Corbett III, 28 January 1935 and put the former world champion down once in the first round but eventually lost on points what many thought should have been a draw. In the rematch however, Corbett was dominant and reportedly outclassed him. He was knocked out for real for the first time against Gustav Eder of Germany in 1937. He won the Euro middle title in 1938. He fought for over 26 years in all and left behind a record of 80 wins, 21 by ko, 21 losses and 9 draws. Klaveren retired in 1956 and died 12 February 1992 at the age of 84. A memorial statue was raised for him that same year in Rotterdam.

    5. Alex Blanchard
    Another light heavyweight who held the European title, Alex Blanchard was a fine boxer with power who scored 33 ko's in 40 victories. Born 3 January 1958 in Amsterdam, he posted an amateur record of 61-3 before turning pro 8 January 1979. He went 21-0 with 18 ko's before he lost to Rudi Koopmans, as mentioned, by TKO8 in a fight for the Euro lhw title. He won this title by stopping the 27-0 Richard Caramanolis, who had taken it from Koopmans, by TKO6 on 28 May 1984. He defended it against Manfred Jassmann (TKO4), Caramanolis (Draw) and then Dennis Andries at West Hotel in Fulham, 11 December 1985. Both guys were down once and the fight ended as a draw. In 1986, he beat Ralf Rocchigiani in another defense by UD12 and then stopped Enrico Scacchia in his fifth and final successful defense by TKO9, 15 August 1987. He lost the title 3 months later when he was knocked out by hard-punching Tom Collins of England. In December 1988 he fought for the IBF European super middle title and drew against Tarmo Uusivirta of Finland, after knocking him down once. In 1989, he got stopped in 2 rounds by underdog Tony Harrison of USA. His last fight was on 13 September 1991 and he tried to reclaim the Euro title, but was stopped by the excellent Graciano Rocchigiani by TKO9 in Germany. He retired with 40 wins, 4 losses and 4 draws. Between 1985 and 1987, he was ranked at nr.2 by WBC, at 175 of course. Very capable fighter, but somewhat chinny as all his losses were by ko.

    6. Raymond Joval
    The second Dutchman to win a version of a world title, albeit lesser one, Raymond Albert Joval is of African heritage and was born 15 December 1968 in Amsterdam. As amateur, he competed at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona as a middleweight, but was eliminated in the second round on points. In 1993, he won a bronze medal at the world amateur championships in Tampere, Finland. Known as "Hallelujah", Joval became a pro 8 January 1994 in USA, trained by Tracy Harris Patterson. He won his first 16 fights before losing to Erland Betare on points away in France in 1996. His first achievement was beating the very good Agostino Cardamone by TKO9 for the World Boxing Union middle title, in 1999 in Italy. He however lost the title in his first defense, to Antonio Perugino, by UD12. In 2000, he first won the IBO title by MD12 against Mpush Makambi and then defended it against Sam Soliman, again winning by MD12. He made four successful defenses, before vacating it in 2003. He lost a rematch to Soliman by UD12 and then fought Fernando Vargas who was on a comeback trail, in March 2005, losing to him by UD10. He won the IBO title for the second time that year and defended it by stopping Shannan Taylor by TKO10. Joval's last fight was in 2008 and he dropped a UD10 to James McGirt jr. He retired with a record of 37 wins with 16 ko's and 5 losses, never been stopped.

    7. Rudi Lubbers
    The only Dutch heavyweight of note, Lubbers was known for his toughness, especially after going 12. rounds against Muhammad Ali. Despite only winning the Dutch title in his pro career, he was a popular fighter among the Dutch, for his willingness to brawl and toughness. He was born 17 August 1945 Heerhugoward i Noord (North) Holland province. He competed at the 1964 Olympics as a light heavy and went out on points in the second round. He also competed in 1968, but as a heavyweight, and once again went out in the second round, 2-3 on points. Lubbers stood 6'0 but was strong and tough and had some power, despite not scoring too many knockouts. He turned pro 23 February 1970 and went 14-0 with 7 ko's before winning the Dutch hw title 17 May 1971 on points against Bas van Duivenbude. He defended it against the same guy on 8 November and this time won by KO5. He beat the best Italian light heavyweight of that time, Piero Del Papa, on points 31 January '72 in Rotterdam. He went to London to fight Joe Bugner, then the hottest British heavyweight, at Royal Albert Hall, for the European title. It was 16 January '73 and Lubbers gave it all he had but lost convincingly on points after 15 rounds. Bugner was at least 4 inches taller and had a very big reach as well. In his very next fight, Lubbers faced Muhammad Ali, 20 October at Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia. Ali was a 4-1 betting favorite and there was a crowd of 25,000 present which watched Ali hit Lubbers with his best shots, but couldn't get him off his feet and the fight went the distance after 12 rounds, Ali naturally winning by unanimous decision. Lubbers scored his perhaps best victory when he won by a DQ5 over very solid Avenemar Peralta of Argentina, fighting at home in 1974. In 1975, he lost in a European lhw fight against Domenico Adinolfi by KO2, but claimed a foul. After getting knocked out in 3 by both Mike Schutte and Alfredo Evangelista, he retired in late 1976 but came back in 1980. He won four fights before losing his last to Gordon Racette of Canada by TKO3, 27 November '81 in Canada and then retired with a record of 28 wins with 13 ko's and 8 losses, 4 by ko. In 1986, he was arrested by the Portuguese police for smuggling cannabis and sentenced to 8 years in prison. He is still alive today.

    8. Pedro van Raamsdonk
    Yet another European light heavy champion from Holland, van Raamsdonk was a very tall (6'4 or 194 cm) light heavyweight who initially had some success as a pro, but it didn't last long. Born 2 October 1960 in Amsterdam, he competed as a middleweight in the 1984 Olympics. After winning his first two fights on points, he was eliminated in the third round against Aristides Gonzales of Puerto Rico, 1-4 on points. He turned pro in February 1986 and in April 1987 even won the BeNeLux cruiser title on points against Sergio Bosio. He chose to fight at 175 however and then won the Dutch title there by UD10 over John Held. He was 10-0 when he faced Tom Collins, who coincidentally had taken the Euro title from his countryman Alex Blanchard, in a Euro title fight 7 September '88 in Reading, England. He stopped the hard hitter from Leeds on a bad gash over his left eyebrow in round 7, winning by TKO and thus becoming the European champion. But already 2 months later, 7 November, he would lose the title to countryman Jan Lefeber, dropping a close unanimous decision to him. He was of bad luck for the rest of his fighting career, losing first to John Emmen by TKO7, due to a bad eye swelling and then dropping a UD to Eric Nicoletta in an attempt to reclaim the European title in 1990. After two consecutive knockout losses in 1991, Raamsdonk retired at the end of that year, aged 31. His record is 15 wins, 7 by ko, and 5 losses.

    9. John Emmen
    A 6'5 cruiserweight and heavyweight, John Emmen fought in the 80's and was a hard puncher, managing to pull off a few solid wins. He was born 18 December 1958 in Tilburg in Southern Holland. He became a pro in September 1985 and won the Benelux heavyweight title in April 1987 by stopping Dragomir Milo Popovic (a Serbian based in Luxemburg) by TKO6. On 22 April '88, he tried to win the Euro title against Francesco Damiani, but was knocked out in 3 by the future WBO-champion. He then stopped Norbert Ekassi, the man who would be the only one to stop Johnny Nelson, by TKO5 and then, as mentioned, stopped Pedro van Raamsdonk by TKO7, to win the Dutch cruiser title. He also decisioned Ralf Rocchighiani. He then surprisingly lost by decision to journeyman John Held. His last victory of note was over Franco Wanyama, who also holds a win over Johnny Nelson, knocking him out in 10. On 20 November '91, he fought against Frank Bruno who was on a comeback trail, at Royal Albert Hall, and was knocked out at the end of the first round. He retired after one more fight in early 1992 and left behind a record 17 wins, 14 by ko, and 3 losses.

    10. Orhan Delibas
    Although not very successful professionally, Orhan Delibas had a fine amateur career and was one of the few Dutchmen to capture an Olympic medal. Born in Kayseri, Turkey on 28 January 1971, Delibas was known under the alias "Turkish Delight". He was based in Arnhem, Gelderland province. In 1992, he captured a silver medal at the Barcelona Olympics, fighting as a light middleweight. He beat both Robin Reid and Raul Marquez on points, before losing to Juan Carlos Lemus of Cuba, also on points. In 1993, he won a silver also at the the European championships and that year also competed at the World championships, but lost in the third round. In 1994, he won a bronze at Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia. He turned pro in September 1995. He fought between light middleweight and middleweight at first. His only achievement as a pro was winning the Benelux lmw title in 1996, on points against Danny Defevere of Belgium. On 7 June 1999, he fought Mamadou Thiam for the European title but was stopped by TKO7, in France. He tried to win it again almost exactly a year later, 3 June, in Karlsruhe, Germany, but was stopped by corner retirement in 3 by Roman Karmazin, one of the best in the division back then. He retired and came back briefly in 2008, but only had two fights and then retired for good. His pro record is 25-2 with 10 ko's.

  • #2
    On closer thought, I'd probably rank Bep van Klaveren at #2.

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    • #3
      --- Dunno if you've seen Lubbers/Ali, but Ali could never figure him out while Lubbers was going to town on Ali.

      Ali got desperate the last few rounds, bu nope, lubbers retained his comfort level against Ali. My take is Ali came for an easy payday and wasn't prepared for an actual fight.

      And if you look at Ali ring troubles, it was mostly against short guys like Doug Jones, Frazier, Leon, and Shavers as a few examples.

      Heresy, but true!

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      • #4
        Btw, I saw that Tuur-Banks fight live on tv, I remember it well. Banks was out cold and didn't open his eyes for about a minute or two. Huge upset.

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