Souwer Power! One of world kickboxing’s all-time greats showcased his skills in front of a captivated audience of combat sport fans during a prestige exhibition match on Contender Fight Federation’s latest show.
Renowned for his electrifying combinations and water-tight defence, Andy Souwer made a special guest appearance on Stockton-based Contender’s VIP event at Teesside University entertainment venue The Hub.
Two-time K-1 Max world champion Souwer’s booking was the latest big scoop for the promotion as it targets expansion in 2019, flying over the Dutchman from Den Bosch ahead of his next ONE Championship bout on March 31, when he rematches Thai powerhouse Yodsanklai Fairtex in Tokyo.
Contender promoter and former kickboxing champion Garry Bell, who runs Contender Fight Academy on Yarm Street in Stockton, got to share the ring with Souwer for three rounds in a high profile addition to the bill, which featured a 3-1 win for Romanian fighters over their English counterparts and several undercard contests.
“It was an amazing experience and a genuine honour to step in the ring and trade shots with Andy,” said Bell, 38.
“Like most kickboxing fans and our loyal fighters and supporters, I grew up watching him fight on the huge K-1 events in Japan on Eurosport, and jumped at the chance to bring him to Teesside.
“Andy’s handspeed, movement and timing is still unbelievable and he is a total gentleman who signed and took photos with everyone.
“He also had a lot of praise for our event and said it was a nice, intimate atmosphere, which is a big pat on the back for us.”
The show was Bell’s 34th since he began promoting after opening his first gym on Bonlea Industrial Estate in 2006, as he continues to fight hard to grow the sport he loves and his promotion locally and nationally.
He has worked with some of the biggest names in kickboxing and MMA over the last few years while continuing to support the grassroots level and give emerging scrappers like unbeaten Teessider Luke Westwood, who won on the recent Channel 5-televised Bellator Newcastle event, a platform to perform.
Souwer and Bellator stars Paul Daley and Melvin Manhoef are just a few of the world-famous fighters who have either fought for his promotion or come to Teesside for exhibitions and seminars.
“I’m as passionate about kickboxing now as when I first started,” he added. “I really do believe it’s one of the most exciting sports on the planet with a lot of potential to grow in the UK as boxing and MMA continues to explode in popularity and get more mainstream.
“We’ve got big plans in the pipeline for 2019, so watch this space.”
Contender VIP event results – England v Romania bouts: Jarcu Petrisor beat Billy Mitchell, decision; Viorel Romanescu beat Luke Richardson, decision; Hamza Mitchell beat Marian Olaru, TKO; Dinache George beat Michael Etherington, decision; Vacant semi-pro super welterweight title: Reece Johnson beat Tyrone McGowan, extra round decision; Professional K-1 rules contest: Ryan Foster beat Emmanuel Aliphon, decision.
Story by Adam Steel
Photography by Greg Corcoran