Tyrone Spong is a world-class kickboxer embarking on an MMA career and much more.
In an interview with the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Rewind” show, he discussed his start in the combat sports, the best kickboxers ever and more.
On why Suriname, where he’s from, produces so many fighters: “The reason, I think, that Suriname produces so many great fighters is because it was a colony of Holland. [It’s a] step for a lot of Surinamese people to move to Holland. It’s not a big step, and you have a lot of Surinamese people living in Holland. Holland being a great kickboxing country, it produces a lot of big champions. There’s a lot of competition in Holland kickboxing-wise. You’ve got events almost every weekend and a lot of gyms there, kickboxing gyms, so I think the level of competition is real high.”
On how he got started in kickboxing: “At the age of 13, I started kickboxing in Amsterdam. It was actually by coincidence. I was walking down the street in my neighborhood. I was living in a pretty rough neighborhood and I heard some noise. I was walking by a garage … and I heard a guy straining and I walked in, and that was the first time that I saw kickboxing training. I looked for a while and I went home and grabbed some shorts. I thought, ‘I can do this.’ I was a pretty tough kid. I liked fighting on the street. I would always end up in fights on the street and I thought it was the same thing, but I got my ass whooped and I couldn’t take that. Actually, that’s how my motivation started out for kickboxing. From that day on, I didn’t miss practice [for] a year, and after a year I had my first fight. … I was 15 when I had my first fight and I won by knockout in the first round.”
On whom he believes is the greatest kickboxer of all time: “You have a few, but I think he just shortly passed away -- that was Ramon Dekkers. He was probably one of the best ever, I think. For me he was the greatest, and you have a few others like Ernesto Hoost, Rob Kaman, Peter Aerts.”
On beating Peter Aerts: “I was happy they stopped the fight because I knew for a fact that if the fight had continued that I would drop him and it would be even badder than it already was. … I didn’t want to do too much damage. I wanted to win bad, but I didn’t want to do too much damage. When I knocked him down, it’s strange to explain, but it was the best of both worlds. You’re happy but also a little bit sad because it’s Peter Aerts.”
On Alistair Overeem: “We had some ups and downs. We started out as teenagers and we trained for almost seven years together, almost every day. After that we split ways. He left the gym, and after a while I left the gym where we were training at and we ended up fighting each other in [K-1]. It was a hard fight. It was a close fight. Now we’re training together again and no need to look back whatsoever. We get along fine. We train every day, and he’s a great team member.”
On Rashad Evans: “Everybody knows that Rashad and I are real tight. He’s like a brother to me, and I work with him a lot on his striking. … He’s a person with a real big heart. He always looks out for his teammates and for people he cares about. I think the fans, they only know Rashad the fighter, the guy you see in the Octagon for the 20 minutes, the 25 minutes, but that’s not the real person.”
On Jon Jones: “I see a guy who’s real confident about his skills. Confident as a fighter. He just has the balls to do it all. He just has the balls to do it, and that makes him great.”
On whether he can fight at a high level in MMA and kickboxing at the same time: “I can adjust. I think that’s one of my strongest spots. I don’t see any problems. I’m going to make it even more difficult for myself because I’m probably going to fight some professional boxing fights this year too. That’s me.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 43:56).