Ramon Dekkers was the both the best, and the most important, non-Thai Muay Thai fighter, ever. If you spent any time in Thailand in the nineties, you couldn’t help but notice that he was the only Western fighter whose name people actually knew. That was because he was going out to Thailand, and fighting against the best they had, in a weight division that the locals actually cared about. He was doing this at a time when there were legendary Thais fighting at his weight, and he was winning. Not every fight, by any means. but that’s actually an accolade in itself – Dekkers didn’t have a carefully managed career of big money fights, with a promoter carefully watching out to make sure that his boy’s record didn’t get tarnished. Instead, he took on every other bad-ass out there, at a time when the Muay Thai world was full of them.
I don’t ask other fighters for autographs. I’ve made two exceptions to that rule. One was Anderson Silva. The other one was Ramon Dekkers. Dekkers is the only one I kept.