Andy “Souwer Power” Souwer has already earned enough accolades to go down as a kickboxing legend, but titles aren’t the most important part of the legacy he wants to leave behind.
Instead, he wants to show the next generation that hard work can put dreams within reach.
To him, the process is just as rewarding.
“You need to work hard, so go for it. That’s all I want to show off,” Souwer says.
“I’m 38. I’m going to be 39 this year. See where I am? I’m still at the top level with the best fighters, with the young lions.
“Even if I lose, I don’t care. I’m happy with myself, and I’m happy that I can be an example for a lot of the youth, and especially for my family.”
Lately, Souwer has seen a change in how people approach the fight game, and he argues that, in the age of social media, people are sucked into wanting instant gratification and quick rewards.
And that’s not how it works.
The Dutchman had his first professional kickboxing bout when he was a teenager. And 22 years on, despite his many successes, he’s still grinding.
“People are really in a fast life right now. They want to be a champion next week or next month, but they forget that you need to work hard,” he says.
“It’s a common thing. You hear it everywhere, you see it everywhere on social media. But [success] didn’t come [from out of the blue]. The words are there because it’s reality – keep going for it, then you will achieve everything.
“Real achievements cannot be done without real work, so go for it. That’s all I want to show off.”
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With over 200 professional kickboxing bouts on his resume, as well as his forays into the mixed martial arts and boxing worlds, Souwer’s work has never ceased.
The Dutchman, however, admits that his focus has strayed at times – most recently, it happened when he started a new business venture to prepare for life after fighting. He took his eye off the ball and, because of it, suffered consecutive defeats.
Souwer realized that he was doing himself a disservice and that was not the way he wanted to go out, especially when he knew two important people were watching closely from home.
“Both my sons, especially the oldest one, are a bit sensitive, like me when I was young. I saw the emotion and the pain when I lost my last few fights, and I told myself the only thing that I could do is just be the example to them,” he says.
“I wanted to show them that you have to keep on striving in life. Even [when] it goes bad and you don’t feel comfortable in any situation, just keep on going. But if you go for it, then you need 100 percent focus. So, that’s how I decided to do it one more time.”
Winning the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix belt would be the crowning glory of his career, but life has its ups and its downs, and the ability to keep pushing forward is what will ultimately reap the biggest dividends.
The Team Souwer dynamo found his spark again and committed himself to training for his match against “Bamboo Sword” Zhang Chunyu at ONE: BIG BANG last December – and it paid off, as he scored a dominant unanimous decision victory over the Chinese athlete.
This Friday, the final run of his career will continue in the greatest kickboxing tournament on the planet. And whatever the outcome, he knows that he will have set a good example for any young eyes watching.
“I want to show my best. Even if I don’t win, I’m going to turn out the best person I can be,” he says.
“If you have a good goal, something you’re wanting to do in life, then take that opportunity and go for it.
“And that’s the reason that I said it’s not [just about] winning the World Grand Prix. I just feel it’s the right thing to do so my heart can be relaxed.”