The greatest farang to ever compete in Muay Thai ‘The Diamond’ Ramon Dekkers. This Dutch-born striker leaves behind an incredible legacy in the ‘Art of Eight Limbs.’ What made him stand out is that he was a born-and-bred Dutch Style kickboxer who brought in the best techniques of this sport in Muay Thai.
Ramon Dekkers’ journey into combat sports began when he started training in judo and boxing as a teenager. His natural athleticism and competitive drive led him to Muay Thai and kickboxing, where he found his true passion. His early training in different disciplines contributed to his well-rounded skills and adaptability in the ring.
Dekkers’ fighting style was a blend of power, speed, and aggression. He was known for his lightning-fast combinations, which often featured devastating punches followed by powerful low kicks that inflicted significant damage on his opponents. His ability to seamlessly transition between different striking techniques made him a formidable force.
Ramon Dekkers Stats
|Date of Birth:||September 4, 1969|
|Place of Birth:||Breda, North Brabant, Netherlands|
|Nickname:||“Turbine from Hell” or “The Diamond”|
|Height:||1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|Weight:||70 kg (154 lb; 11 st 0 lb)|
|Weight Classes:||Featherweight, Super featherweight, Lightweight, Super lightweight, Welterweight, Super welterweight|
|Record(s):||186 – 36 – 2|
|Years Active:||1986 – 2006|
|World Championships:||Eight time Muay Thai World Champion|
Ramon Dekkers Early Career
Ramon Dekkers’ journey into combat sports began at the age of 12 when he started exploring different disciplines, such as judo and boxing. His path eventually led him to Muay Thai, where he began training under Cor Hemmers. Cor Hemmers, one of the most important figures in Dutch kickboxing, also a former champion and legendary instructor. Hemmers played a pivotal role in Dekkers’ development.
Cor Hemmers would also train notable fighters such as MMA and Kickboxing legend, Alistair Overeem, former UFC heavyweight champion, Bas Rutten, kickboxing star Gokhan Saki, and all-time kickboxing great Semmy Schilt, among many others.
From the beginning of his athletic training, Ramon Dekkers demonstrated remarkable determination as he was quite short for a Dutch person in combat sports at merely 1.72 m (5 ft 8 in).
However, his first few fights served as a preview of his future success. In this debut match, Dekkers showcased his skills by knocking out his opponent with a powerful left hook. The Dutch athlete would follow this up by earning six knockouts in his first seven professional matches.
Dekkers’ rapid progression in the sport of Muay Thai led him to climb the ranks with incredible speed. Eventually, he would capture the Muay Thai Bond Nederland (MTBN) Dutch Championship.
In first this championship bout, Ramon Dekkers faced the reigning titleholder, Kenneth Ramkisoen. Dekkers employed his signature aggressive style to wear down his opponent and secured victory by knocking Kenneth Ramkisoen out with an incredible high kick. This victory allowed Dekkers to capture the Dutch Championship title at merely the age of eighteen.
As Ramon Dekkers continued to compete, his propensity for knockout wins became a defining aspect of his fighting style. Through this, he earned the nickname “Turbine from Hell” as he was such an aggressive fighter. Overall in his career, he would earn a whopping 95 victories by way of knockout.
International Muay Thai Champion
Before he was even 20 years old, the aggressive striker had picked up several European Muay Thai titles to add to his mantle. However, he wanted even more prestige and acclaim, so he set his sights on a World Title.
The most important moment of Ramon Dekkers’ career came in 1990 when he faced the three-time Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai Champion Namphon Nongkee Pahuyuth. In a Dutch vs Thai showdown, the two fought for the International Muay Thai Federation Title.
This fight was a big deal in both nations. It took place at a sold-out arena in Amsterdam as millions watched via satellite from Thailand. This legendary match would go the full five rounds.
Shockingly, Dekkers won this match. At the time this was a huge upset. Few fighters could defeat a Thai-born champion in Muay Thai rules. Ramon Dekkers had changed the landscape of Muay Thai.
The two would rematch just a few months later at the iconic Lumpinee Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. After five rounds of war, this time it was Namphon who earned the victory.
The Landscape of Muay Thai
Ramon Dekkers had a legendary career which was notable for his knockout action and how frequently he would fight. In 1990 alone he took seven bouts. He followed this up in 1991 with a whopping eight bouts. The Dutch-born athlete was becoming an international star fighting back-to-back in Bangkok, Paris, Amsterdam, and even Tokyo.
The Dutch striker remarked in an interview about this, he said:
“I was young, in excellent shape and had no injuries. Besides, I often KOed my opponents real fast. The point is that I never asked myself why I shouldn’t fight often if I felt good. Once, I fought on Wednesday in Paris and on Saturday in Bangkok.”
The Dutch striker had such an effect on Muay Thai, he may have inadvertently changed the training style of Nak Muays. At the time, Muay Thai would heavily favour elbow and knee fighters, while Dekkers was a Muay Mat, a puncher.
Dekkers would complain the scoring system would typically favour the Thai athlete, due to their knees and elbow. He had closes matches in which he could have won, but was scored for his opponent. In an interview, Dekkers explained:
“There is a different kind of point counting. Knees and elbows give you much more points than punching or kicking.”
Ramon Dekkers career could be defined by his legendary rivalry with Thai-star Coban Lookchaomaesaitong. Coban was an incredible Muay Thai fighter having over 250 professional career victories. Coban was also a two-time Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai champion in addition to other notable world titles.
Coban and Dekkers would fight four times between 1991 and 1993, twice in Thailand and twice in France. They were the biggest names in Muay Thai and had competed for the International Muay Thai Federation world title.
Over four bouts, the two had competed for a total of twelve rounds. Each man won two bouts in their series, and each man won one match by decision and first-round knockout. It was a very even series.
‘The Diamond’ Dekkers Retirement
‘The Diamond’ Dekkers would fight up to the year 2006 and then would retire. During the 1990s it was an important period for developing combat sports around the globe. K-1 Kickboxing was introduced to the world, while American full-contact kickboxing fell in popularity. Plus, MMA was making waves in Japan and the USA.
In an interview, Dekkers reflected on one of his matches in K-1 Kickboxing. He faced striking legend and future MMA all-star trainer Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig. He said:
“Western fighters improved a lot. Japanese fighters are overrated: I met five of them and knocked them out. After six years of retirement, I fought again in Japan on July 20 2005. My opponent was an American: Duane Ludwig. Our match was billed as a superfight inside the World Max Championships Finals and that’s why we fought under K-1 rules. I dominated him for the entire nine minutes and won on points. The attendance at Yokohama Arena was 17,720 people. The event was shown on the same day by Japanese TV network TBS and later in 64 countries. It was great to be there.”
Ramon Dekkers mainly fought opponents from Japan, Thailand, and Europe, but he did not fight too many American fighters. He discussed this in an interview and said:
“Because they never had any good opponents for me. American fighters like full contact kickboxing, the style which allows only kicks from the belt up. In Holland, kickboxing has low kicks. Many times, the promoter adds the knees making it similar to the K-1 Grand Prix. If you learn kickboxing in my country, you can fight in any other style too.”
Ramon Dekkers played a pivotal role in introducing Muay Thai and kickboxing to a global audience. His willingness to travel to Thailand and compete against local fighters elevated the international profile of the sport. This also fostered greater cross-cultural appreciation for martial arts.
After retiring from active competition, Dekkers channelled his experience into coaching and mentoring the next generation of fighters. He established his gym where he shared his knowledge and guided aspiring athletes. His coaching helped shape the careers of many fighters who went on to achieve success in their own right.
Tragically, Dekkers passed away at a relatively young age due to heart failure while cycling. His sudden death was a shock to the martial arts community, leading to an outpouring of tributes and remembrances from fighters, trainers, and fans around the world.
Ramon Dekkers’ legacy is one of inspiration and achievement. He demonstrated that a fighter from outside Thailand could excel in Muay Thai, breaking down barriers and showcasing the universality of martial arts. His tenacity and sportsmanship earned him respect and admiration worldwide.
Timothy Wheaton is a combat sports writer who covers MMA, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai. Tim is the authority on kickboxing and combat sports journalist who has covered K-1, PRIDE FC, UFC, GLORY Kickboxing, Bellator, ONE Championship, and plenty more.