“I want to fight the most dangerous in the world. That has much more value to me than any prize.”
Young, ambitious people with a big dream. We love that at Light4U. We’re not only building on our own dream, but we also love helping others to achieve it. That is why we sponsor young athletes, such as motorcycle racer Jayant Chote. Recently we also started to support talented kickboxer Sjoerd Stel (18). He follows a talentprogram with a special trainer, who also works on his dream.
More than just punches and kicks.
In the KickSports gym in Oudehaske in Friesland, young athletes come and go all day long. And they don’t just come here to exercise. KickSports is about much more. Ehsan Momenzadah (Sjoerd’s trainer) is a former professional kickboxer, and has years of experience in sports education. According to him, the pedagogical aspect in his coaching is the key to letting his athletes get the best out of themselves: “Kickboxing is an extremely complex sport. You have to master all aspects. You can be talented at punches and kicks. That’s fine. You can be in good shape. That’s fine too. But kickboxing is about the coherence of many more factors. Your condition, technique, discipline and mental resilience must be in order. Everything has to be right if you want to perform.”
Finding peace in the sport.
Sjoerd has been training under Ehsan’s for about two years now. He can still vividly remember the first meeting: “When I started, I could take it all out on that boxing bag. Giving everything I wanted. At one point, Ehsan came to me. If I wanted to spar for a while. At that time I thought I would win against him, but that turned out differently… haha. But I didn’t give up. Since then, I have continued to grow. As an athlete, but also in my personality. I may have been a bit of a difficult guy, but I really found my peace in the sport.” Ehsan also remembers the Sjoerd from the early days: “I immediately noticed that he had the mentality: the will to train hard and get the best out of himself. But that alone will not get you there. So we started with techniques and mental coaching. People sometimes think that kickboxing is all about knocking out your opponent as quickly as possible. But that’s not the point. During a match it is about so much more. One time you have to go in hard, then turn back in, block, dodge, play. Sharing your strength is so important in this sport. You really have to learn how to dose. Because if you’re not careful, you’ll be empty in 15-20 seconds. Sjoerd still had a lot to learn about this. He was so eager that we really had to slow him down.”
McDonalds as a no go.
A special schedule has been put together for Sjoerd (also a warehouse employee at Light4U). Various trainers work at KickSports, each with their own expertise. Ehsan is the man of kickboxing, but there are also coaches who specialize in, for example, nutrition, mental coaching or fitness. Ehsan: “We coach him as a team. Purely because you have to be complete in all aspects to step into the ring.” For Sjoerd, his schedule means that he lives differently than most of his peers: “I don’t drink, don’t go to parties or festivals, don’t eat at McDonalds and don’t make it late on Saturday night because I have to train again on Sunday morning. But I like that discipline. It keeps me energized all the time. I always go for it. Because I want to go to the top. And I have to leave things for that. For me that is no problem at all. Precisely because I have such a passion for this sport. And the support of Light4U helps me in important matters, such as a balanced diet and extra training.”
Looking for boundaries.
That passion has ensured that Sjoerd is putting himself on the map. Currently still in the C-class, but with the ultimate goal to fight at a professional level in the A-class. In addition, he has another remarkable goal: “I want to fight against the most dangerous people in the world. That has much more value to me than a band or a cup. I’m probably going to lose, but the challenge is what makes it special. Purely because then I have to do more than I actually already can. I think it’s great to explore my limits. I just want to be against the best in my weight class.” That class is the midweight class. And according to Ehsan, that means that Sjoerd will never become a Badr Hari or Rico Verhoeven: “Those are heavyweights. More than 120 kilos, almost two meters. But in the midweight class, between 70 and 80 kilos, Sjoerd could play a role. Did you know that this is one of the most spectacular weight classes? With lots of action and a high tempo. It would be great if we could stand in a Glory with Sjoerd. By the way, he has already had a taste, in Martini Plaza in Groningen. Three thousand spectators, a great experience. It is our job to serve him with such matches, so that he gets the opportunities he deserves.”
Kickboxing is teamwork.
KickSports focuses on the power of the sport. Ehsan points to the ring from the coffee table: “See that little guy? Just did his homework here. It has always been my dream to create a place where young people can go. Not so much to make them a fighter, but to let them discover who they are. What are you good at? How do you deal with ups and downs? That’s why we spar not only in the ring, but also outside it. Sport helps you shape yourself.” He speaks from experience. When Ehsan was 16, he came to the Netherlands as a refugee. With already a whole route already behind him: Pakistan, Moscow, Charkov, The Hague, Ede, Velp, Luttelgeest, Emmeloord and finally Friesland. He didn’t speak the language, but noticed that kickboxing gave him an identity. He is now passing on that experience: “I think it’s great to be able to build a community around our sport. In fact, I think that’s even more important than the sport itself. What sets us apart? The pedagogical side. All the people who work here are more than trainers. They are teachers, who have studied for their subject. And that makes KickSports different. We help our athletes become the best version of themselves. Kickboxing may seem like an individual sport, but to us it’s teamwork. You can be the man here. Beating everyone up. But that won’t do you any good. Not for you and not for your opponent. If you do that three times, no one will want to train with you anymore. And so you are alone. We all need each other to move forward. This is how we build our dreams together.”