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AIMING FOR THE UPSET: GERGES V HARI - Thom Harinck interview


SHOCKWAVES: Renowned Dutch trainer Thom Harinck, pictured above right with his Brazilian heavyweight Anderson 'Braddock' Silva, is aiming to steer Hesdy Gerges to a major upset on May 29 at It's Showtime in Amsterdam.

THOM HARINCK is optimistic that Hesdy Gerges can follow in a tradition of major upsets caused by his Chakuriki Gym fighters when he faces his former protege Badr Hari.

And the no-nonsense trainer has revealed that Jerome Lebanner is going to train at his gym full-time following a successful three-week stint there before his latest win over Tyrone Spong.

Gerges will send shockwaves through the kickboxing world if he takes out Hari on May 29, as few outside Harinck's own North Amsterdam stable are giving him much chance of victory.

Harinck recognises that Hari will start as a landslide favourite in the main event at the Amsterdam ArenA.

But the disciplinarian coach is renowned for instilling huge self belief as well as fitness into his fighters and has helped the likes of Branko Cikatic, Peter Aerts and Amir Zeyada rip up the form book over the years.

Gritty and determined, Gerges has also overcome the odds in two of his last four fights - claiming big points wins over Ruslan Karaev and Paul Slowinski.

Harinck says he is perfectly comfortable with the Dutch-Egyptian's underdog tag, and he expects Gerges to rise to the occasion against Hari on fight night.

"Let people think it is going to be an easy fight for Badr, I like this position," said Harinck.

"They said the same when he fought Karaev and Jan Muller, a big guy from Eastern Europe.

"Always when they say that, Hesdy has produced his best.

"Amir Zeyada beat Tyrone Spong twice and they said he had no chance.

"The second time Spong won the first two rounds tactically and technically, but Amir came back to destroy him.

"Branko destroyed Ernesto Hoost - who was the best at that time - when he was 40.

"Peter beat Frank Lobman the first time he fought him when he was 18.

"Lobman was 38 and a very strong fighter and people said: 'Thom Harinck is crazy because Lobman will win the fight.'

"It was the same when he beat Maurice Smith in Paris - Smith was 107 kilos and had beaten everybody and Peter was only 86.

"This is the power that Chakuriki have, but give me the underdog position every time, I'm happy with that.

"Of course Badr is top level and I know them both, but Hesdy is a fighter who brings courage into the ring.

"It will be a hard fight, I tell you."

Gerges leapt to prominence with a dogged display on his K-1 debut, digging deep to go the distance with four-time World Grand Prix champion Semmy Schilt after taking the fight at short notice.

The 26-year-old enhanced his reputation further with victories over K-1 tournament winners Karaev and Slowinski, but was criticised after squeezing past underrated veteran Ashwin Balrak and losing a decision to Brice Guidon in his last fight a fortnight later.

Harinck believes Gerges has not been given the credit he deserves for scoring points on the back foot to beat awkward Balrak and insists his extra round defeat to the towering Guidon is far from a disaster.

"Balrak, I tell you, is a much better fighter than Karaev," he said.

"The difference is that people don't know him because he doesn't fight in Japan.

"He has won tournaments in Eastern Europe and has a lot of big wins, and I know he is a very difficult fighter.

"They protested the decision, but everybody could see on television that Hesdy made much more points, the real points.

"Two weeks after that Hesdy fought in Milan against Brice but he was not so motivated.

"After three rounds he lost the fight, but he should have won it after the extra round and Brice told me the same thing.

"But he lost a fight against a very difficult fighter who beat Mourad Bouzidi and Rico Verhoeven - so what?

"Hesdy just did the fight to get a little bit more rhythm and I was very happy with that."

Since finishing runner-up to Schilt in last year's K-1 Final, knockout artist Hari has annihilated Bouzidi and widely outpointed Alexey Ignashov in his last fight.

But Harinck says Gerges will give him a much sterner test than Ignashov, who was more content to make it to the final bell than try to win on his K-1 return.

"Ignashov was fighting to survive but I never go to the ring with my fighters with this mentality," he explained.

"It's better you get knocked out and show you want to fight, then people respect you.

"Badr has gained a lot more weight and power than when he was with me and everyone knows his fighting style.

"But in terms of conditioning, Hesdy is better I tell you.

"Talent-wise Badr has more, but Hesdy has fighting heart and we have a strategy. If it works, we will see. You never know."

While Harinck has high hopes for his rising talent Gerges, he still has a lot of faith in his old guard fighters Lebanner and Aerts.

Lebanner showed a marked improvement in his recent win over Spong after less than a month training with Harinck and was so impressed by the results that he has decided to move to Amsterdam to link up with the Dutch trainer on a permanent basis.

"I got an SMS message from Jerome last week to say he has found an apartment and is coming to live in Amsterdam and train here every day," said Harinck, who still does his own fitness routine every morning before he takes training.

"What we did in three weeks with him before the Spong fight was unbelievable and you could see in the first round his eyes were sharp and he enjoyed the fight.

"He told me that for a long time he didn't have that and I tell you, when he trains here for three months he will be much better.

"He has never won the K-1 and has been known more as a one-match figher, but we will work hard with him and why can't he win it?

"He has got a muay thai fight without elbows coming up against a Canadian guy in La Reunion on July 16."

Aerts' last outing was not as successful as he was knocked out by Kyotaro - Keijiro Maeda - in his challenge for the Japanese fighter's K-1 heavyweight title after weighing in at a career lowest 97kg.

The three-times K-1 WGP winner is expected to be out for about a month after surgery to remove splinters in his left elbow which hampered him in the run-up to the fight, but Harinck predicts that he will come back stronger.

"Peter was too light for the fight and you would think he would put the weight on quickly after the weigh-in, but the next day he was only 98kg because after a month of not eating like normal he wasn't hungry any more," he said.

"That was a mistake, but the biggest problem was his elbow. When you touched it he was screaming because he was in so much pain and he didn't spar so much in my gym because of that.

"Two weeks before the fight I wanted to pull him out but he wanted to go through with it.

"Also I think Maeda is not an appointment for Peter. At this stage of his career he needs someone to stand in front of him and fight, not run away.

"Put that all together and it contributed to the loss but all credit to Maeda, he is still champion.

"I don't think the defeat has done the final years of his career lasting damage, not at all.

"I tell you, he will only come back stronger. This is Peter."

Harinck is in Budapest this Saturday, April 17 with his Brazilian heavyweight prospect Anderson Braddock Silva, who faces off against Hungary's Tihamer Brunner.

Silva lost his last fight for It's Showtime in February when he was floored three times in a points loss to Bosnian fighter Adnan Redzovic.

Brunner has beaten Redzovic, but Harinck expects a more focused Silva - 28 wins, three losses and 21 KOs - to get back on winning track and go on to better things.

He said: "Before his last fight he got married at Christmas, then he had to leave his wife and daughter behind in Brazil.

"He was only back a very short time after that - I could see he wasn't happy and his fight was terrible.

"He was also too heavy but I told him he must forget everything else and focus on his fights and now he is much better prepared.

"I think Braddock is one of the most talented young fighters there is.

"I think he can make it very far and maybe get into the K-1 Final Eliminations in September, the last 16, so we will see what he does."

Harinck has won three K-1 titles with Cikatic and Aerts and is not a man who accepts second best lightly.

"I think in the long-term we exist at Chauriki as a fighting style," he said.

"They always said I'm not too much technical - of course we have technique, but the technique you learn in the beginning.

"Then you have to get the guts, the fighting spirit and to go over your own abilities.

"When you give 100%, you must do 110% - that is what I want to do.

"It's the same with English soccer. Maybe they aren't the most technical but they go for it from the first minute to the last.

"This is my character, I like it. I bring it over because I like to go where you think you lose, go over that and you can win the fight.

"That is the most important thing."

If his fighters can continue to adopt the same outlook, more exciting times could be ahead for Harinck and his Chakuriki Gym.




Post new comment
Fansofbadrhari (61 posts)
Posted: 2010-04-15 at: 07:18
Thanks you this article

Harinck is very on him but why not ?
I thinks that hesdy is a good fighter but i dont thinks that he can win badr hari
Melali (332 posts)
Posted: 2010-04-18 at: 10:01
I m a huge fan of Hari i really hope hesdey do something good but he is very very very far for a win. Hari s classic style of kickboxing is complete and that what he was looking to prove in the two last fights but hopefully he came this time very angry and knock Hesdey out cold !
szanpan (2088 posts)
Posted: 2010-05-25 at: 09:38
the only problem with Hesdy Gerges is that he totally lacks personality if h e speaks he cant be understood and the way he speaks is utterly boring. Of course he is new, but in another way it doesnt mean that much. he is not a champ like person, i think he will stay a strong middle category fighter
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