Anthony Engelen’s Amazing Journey To The Biggest Stage In Martial Arts

Anthony “The Archangel” Engelen is just days away from the biggest moment of his life.

Next Sunday, 31 March the 33-year-old from Jakarta will face Garry “The Lion Killer” Tononat ONE: A NEW ERA in Tokyo, Japan, in a featherweight clash that will be seen by a massive global audience.

The Indonesian warrior will proudly represent his nation on the most stacked card in martial arts history, after a long and winding journey that has taken him from across the planet – from tiny gyms to the global stage.


Engelen’s father is from Manado in Indonesia, but he was born and raised in the Netherlands. It all started for “The Archangel” in a small town called Ermelo, where he grew up.

He was enthusiastic about many sports, but his love of action movies starring his heroes like Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, and Michael Dudikoff took him toward martial arts. 

“Ever since I was 6 years old, I have always played sports, starting with tennis, then baseball – both for quite a long time,” he explains.

“Somewhere in between, I was attracted to taekwondo and Muay Thai, before stepping into kickboxing.

“Man, I remember watching all those movies – acting and pretending to be a ninja, throwing stuff around.”

Engelen was also drawn to martial arts because he faced a tough time in school.

Bullies tried to torment him because of his size, so he found a way to build his confidence and the strength to stand up for himself.

“It was kind of bully-prevention, I guess. I knew a little bit about how to defend myself,” he says.

“They would try to pick on me, and they would usually find out that it that wasn’t a good thing to do.”

The young Engelen was passionate about training, but his education was put on hold by his father for his own safety.

“When I was 13 or 14, I had a diving accident and both my eardrums popped,” he remembers.

“So, my dad said, ‘No more kickboxing [and diving] for you!’”

For the next decade, he was prevented from pursuing his passion, but he never lost his love for martial arts.

During the time he was forced to stay out of the gym, he still tried to learn about various disciplines, and watched professional athletes on television.

When he was in his late teens, he discovered a new sport for the first time, and that lit a fire under him.

“I remembered watching [mixed martial arts] fights a few times,” explains “The Archangel.”

“I did not really understand what was going on, but I was looking at it and said, ‘Dude, this is awesome! This is pretty crazy, what’s going on in here?’”

Eventually, he ended his exile from martial arts, and signed up to a small gym near his home and started to renew his striking training and learn the basics of grappling.

He had always stayed in shape, but he was not prepared for what waited for him when he stepped onto the mats.

Anthony Engelen returns to ONE with a BANG as he knocks out Cambodia's Meas Meul at 0:39 of Round 1!

Anthony Engelen returns to ONE with a BANG as he knocks out Cambodia's Meas Meul at 0:39 of Round 1!Watch the full event LIVE & FREE on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast

Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, November 9, 2018

“I remember getting [beaten up] by a 16-year-old, which was a very humbling experience,” he reveals.

“After a few months, I started beating them and I started getting a little better. Then, I moved gyms for a while to Fight & Power Academy in Amersfoort. That’s when I really learned a really strong foundation for my mixed martial arts career.”

It was not until Engelen returned to  Indonesia that his passion became a career.

His parents taught him to be proud of his heritage, and Indonesian tradition and culture were a big part of his upbringing, so when he got the chance to join an exchange program in his university, and then take an internship at a tea company in the world’s largest island nation, he jumped at the chance.

After traveling back and forth between Europe and Asia for a while, he moved permanently to Jakarta, and soon embarked on his cage career.

“I was training three to four times a week aside from my day job back in 2014 in Jakarta,” he explains.

I trained a lot, I joined into competitions, sometimes grappling, sometimes BJJ, sometimes mixed martial arts.

“[After a change of management in my company] I was not happy doing a nine-to-five desk job anymore. I just realized that I enjoy being active, so I left the company.

“I started my own Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school with a partner of mine, just to spread the word of BJJ throughout Jakarta and to make a little bit of extra money. I was also teaching little kids English in schools, and in the free time that I had, I was training as much as I could.”

“The Archangel” won three bouts and became IFC Lightweight Champion, which attracted the attention of the world’s largest martial arts organization.

He is now a veteran of eight contests in the Home Of Martial Arts, and every one of his victories has come by way of stoppage, making him a big fan favorite in his native land.

Now representing Bali MMA, Engelen has never been happier, and he is excited to show what he is capable when he takes on the biggest challenge of his career next week.

Anthony Engelen left no room for escape!

Anthony Engelen left no room for escape!Jakarta | 19 January | 5:30PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneglory19

Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, January 7, 2019

Tonon also recognizes he will face the most difficult test of his run in ONE in Tokyo, and that is no surprise, given “The Archangel’s” habit of coming out hard in every contest and shooting for a stoppage.

“I love the organization. I love the people, I love the staff, and the fighters. You know, just arriving back then in Manila and getting that whole red-carpet treatment was awesome,” he says.

“So far, it’s just been an amazing journey. There’s been some ups and downs, but you know you have that everywhere in life.

“The most important thing is that I feel really good with ONE. I’m pretty sure they feel good with me as well. They know what they can expect from me – they know I always bring a great fight.”