Dutch kickboxing ace Andy Souwer has competed at the highest level of the sport for years in his quest to be the best, and now he is looking to build a legacy in a foreign land.
The two-time K-1 World MAX Champion and ONE Super Series star has partnered with Cambodia’s Kingdom Fight Gym (KFG) in Siem Reap and its founders, Mark Van Dongen and Kwok Leung Tsang, to help support the local community.
The goal is to encourage the use of martial arts as a means by which youngsters can escape difficult circumstances and prosper.
“What we strive for is not only to bring fighters [to our gym], but we also want to support the local youths with free training and education,” Leung Tsang explains.
“We want to have a big sports center where we have as many kids as possible that we can support.”
As a result of his new connection with the gym, Souwer has agreed to become an ambassador for the KFG – alongside fellow countryman and kickboxing legend Ernesto “Mr. Perfect” Hoost.
Souwer has already agreed to put one of his championship belts up for auction to help raise money, and will also donate a portion of his next bout purse to the gym.
“It’s not about the money,” explains the 36-year-old.
“It’s more about the future and looking after the kids. They want to have a brighter future.”
Souwer’s desire to help others was sparked by seeing the difference made by ONE and its athletes across Asia. He was also inspired by the stories of countless martial artists who have escaped poverty to become superstars and an inspiration to their fellow countrymen.
“They’re showing people and the rest of the world – especially in Asia – that if you stay focused and humble, you can achieve your goals,” he says.
Souwer has yet to visit Cambodia, but the Dutch star hopes to put that right in the coming months.
Souwer will take on Muay Thai legend Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex at ONE: A NEW ERA in Tokyo, Japan in March, and he plans to visit Cambodia and meet his colleagues at KFG to experience the gym’s work first-hand to finish his trip.
“After my fight, I want to visit,” he says.
“I want to get involved with the camp, and I want to get involved with the kids. I want to give them my opinion and share my motivation.”
KFG recently celebrated the news of their first graduate to ONE Championship. Kun Khmer athlete Kong Sambo is set to make his debut early in the New Year.
The Dutchman hopes to help inspire others to follow in Sambo’s path to the world’s largest martial arts organization.
“I have had a lot of experiences, and I just want to share that. I just hope that it is possible for the kids,” he says.
“Everybody wants to succeed in life, in many ways or in any way. If I can help with some little things, I am happy.”