How Ernesto Hoost Protégé Santino Verbeek Made It To The Global Stage

Santino Verbeek is ready to make his name in Asia, just like the legend that has coached and mentored him.

The 24-year-old Dutchman is one of Ernesto “Mr. Perfect” Hoost’s top students, and he will make his first ONE Championship appearance this Friday, 6 September against Juan Cervantes in a welterweight kickboxing match at ONE: IMMORTAL TRIUMPH.

Coming from great stock under one of the greatest strikers of all time, Verbeek feels ready to go up against the world’s best and solidify his own place in history – and his mission will begin in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Before he steps out in the Phu Tho Indoor Stadium, he reveals how he learned from the best to rise to the global stage for martial arts. 

Foundations For Success

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Gisteren met succes mijn titel weten te verdedigen! Na een partij van 5 zware rondes werd ik als winnaar uitgeroepen. Ik heb hier hard naar toe gewerkt en dat was me ook zeker niet gelukt zonder mijn trainers, sponsoren, @worldfightingleagueofficial mijn vrienden, familie en niet te vergeten. De supporters die allemaal aanwezig waren incl. de bus vol supporters vanuit hoorn WAUW!WAUW!WAUW!❤ Sokudo Gym @hoost.ernesto @sokudogym Gasseling vastgoed onderhoud Blokdijk Metaalhandel Indica 'By The Stud' @indica_amsterdam ATLASpartijgoederen.nl Hoogland Vis @hooglandvis1930 NTW Sport & Support Ekkelenkamp Schilders Baerts Afbouw @albaerts Etienne Ruigewaard B.V. @etienneruig The Fight Company @thefightcompany Cees & Co

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Verbeek hails from the town of Hoorn in the Netherlands, 35 kilometers north of the nation’s capital of Amsterdam.

Though his parents divorced when he was young, he had a happy upbringing with both sides of his family.

“I was born and raised in Hoorn. It’s a good place and I still live there now,” he explains.

“I have one older sister with my mother and my father, and I have a little sister and brother on my father’s side. I am very happy with my family.”

Verbeek was an active child and played soccer as a youngster, alongside doing karate, but he also did well academically. He studied marketing after he left school before he qualified as a personal trainer.

“I studied and liked to learn about the body, and how it works. It interested me,” he says.

“It meant I could bring kickboxing to people, and it also helped me with my own training. It is good for me to know about my own body.”

From Karate To Kickboxing

The Dutchman’s introduction to martial arts came via his older step-brother, who took him along to a karate class when he was 6.

He had a natural aptitude for the sport and earned his brown belt, but he fell out of love with the art when it did not match his growing need for intensity.

“I trained for around six years, but it was getting boring,” he explains.

“At one point, I taught little boys karate, but I wanted to learn and not have to teach other people. Also, there was a lot of katas, and not a lot of action.”

Aged 12, Verbeek was introduced to kickboxing through another family member, and that sparked his interest.

“My aunt practiced kickboxing and had some big matches, and sometimes she took me to events,” he continues.

“All the fighters were coming out with the big intro music. I liked that so much, so from that moment I loved it.

“My mum didn’t like it, she said it was dangerous, but my family took me to go train. My trainers said I had talent, so I stopped karate and focused on kickboxing from then.”

Verbeek enrolled at Sokudo Gym under his trainers Hoost, Ton Vriend, and Robin Vriend, and began his competitive career at the age of 13.

Down, But Not Out

A life committed to martial arts has its ups and downs. Verbeek’s career in the ring started on the wrong foot, but it helped him to forge a strong mentality to reach success.

“I lost my first fight, but I learned a lot. Mentally, the biggest thing was discipline,” he says.

“I won my next fights after that because I learned from the first time. I know how it is to lose, and I know how it is to win. I know it from both sides, and that’s a big thing in my career. It has made my mental game strong.”

Despite everything he learned, and a ton of success, Verbeek admits he was thrown off track a little when he suffered his first defeat by stoppage.

“I think it was 2017 when I got knocked out for the first time, and then in the next fight I played it safe,” he explains.

“For a while, I was mentally not the guy that I normally was. That cost me a lot of time before I got back to the level I was at before, but you need to take your losses to learn your lessons.”

However, he only needed some reflection and a look at his coach — the four-time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion “Mr. Perfect” — to see how true greats bounce back.

Time To Shine On The Global Stage

Verbeek got back on the horse and put together a run of form that saw him improve his record to 36-14-3, become a two-time World Fighting League World Champion, and earn a spot on the roster of the world’s largest martial arts organization.

He has overcome every setback, and now feels like he is in the best place to make a step up in competition.

The Dutchman is motivated even more by an impending new arrival in his family, so he is fired up to get his campaign on the global stage off to a winning start against a WTKA Muay Thai World Champion.

“My wife is pregnant, I’m going to be a dad in November, and now I’m going to fight for the first time in ONE, so I am a happy man!” he beams.

“ONE Championship is the biggest in the world now. It’s a big opportunity, and now it is going to start for real in Vietnam. I have one goal, and that’s to be the next World Champion of ONE in the welterweight division.”