Father of three

It’s Friday night when we call Rico, and while many people are preparing to go out and party, Rico is home relaxing with his family, like he is most Friday evenings. “Partying hasn’t really been my thing, even before I had kids. I’ve always been busy with where I wanted to go and how to get the life I want, so I haven’t been into that. Once in a while, sure, but not too much. That way it stays special.”

Photo credit: James Law, Glory Sports International

Everyone who has kids knows how challenging it can be to get the everyday life to run smoothly. Rico is a father of three and still manages to train several times a day, plus everything else that needs to be done. “It’s hard of course. Especially now when I have so much to do with promotion, interviews and sponsor obligations on top of training and fighting. But I try my best to manage it, and we’re lucky to be in a position where we have money to spend on help with the kids and the house.” Rico’s first child was born when he was 22 years old, and he explains it made him take his life and his career much more serious. In order to provide a good life for his daughter, he increased his focus to take his fighting to the next level.


It was Rico’s father who got him into martial arts in the first place. His father was a Kyokushin Karate black belt who taught kickboxing, and 5 year old Rico became a dedicated student of his. “My father’s kickboxing was highly influenced by Kyokushin. You can see it, for example on the technique with more flexible kicks and different angles than in traditional kickboxing. But it also contributed with more discipline and toughness. Kyokushin fighters are really tough, it’s just on a different level, both physically and mentally.”

The GLORY heavyweight throne

On New Year’s Eve 2012, Rico made his GLORY debut in a Heavyweight Tournament. He is undefeated in the organization since that night and is without a doubt their biggest star today. Former kickboxer Gökhan Saki has said that GLORY was difficult to work with, but Rico doesn’t agree. “We have a really good relationship. I think it depends on the person you are, and honestly I’m also not always an easy person to work with. I’m quite stubborn and like to have things my way. It’s important to be able to compromise in order to do good business, so it goes your way but also their way. If you have five or six demands that you really want, and come out with four of them, you did pretty well. Working with GLORY has been a great pleasure for me.”

Photo credit: James Law, Glory Sports International

With a 16-fight winning streak in GLORY, it’s not surprising that people call Rico unthreatened. But he says he is still motivated to keep defending his belt. “Always! I see it as my duty and my mission as champion to keep performing to the best of my abilities. It doesn’t matter who’s in front of me, because every opponent is an obstacle, and every opponent is dangerous. My goal is to stay my absolute best and create a path for the next generation who can walk in my shoes, or maybe even further."


There are many big names who have stood on the opposite side of Rico in the ring, and we discuss if any of them sticks out to him, and who he would like to fight again. His answer to both questions is Semmy Schilt, the 213 cm giant who beat Rico back in 2012, whom he describes as a monster. We also discuss the demand of many fans, a rematch against Badr Hari who lost to Rico two years ago due to an arm injury. “Of course I would like to fight Badr again, and GLORY knows that. It’s up to them to find the right time, the right arena and to make sure everybody are available. I think it’s just a matter of time.”

MMA, money and movies

Several fighters, like Alastair Overeem and Gökhan Saki, have transitioned from kickboxing to MMA, with the dream of a bigger scene, bigger fame and bigger paychecks. With wins over the biggest threats in the heavyweight division, many wonder if Rico is the next kickboxer to make the switch. “For now, no. But who knows, if the offer is right… Money talks, right? I love martial arts, boxing, kickboxing, MMA; I love it all. In kickboxing I’m the absolute best so I focus on that right now, but who knows about the future? If there ever comes a crazy offer, maybe we can look into it. Actually, I have one professional MMA fight on my record and I’ve done some grappling tournaments here in Holland. I liked it, so let’s see what happens in the future!”

Photo credit: James Law, Glory Sports International

“I earn good money when I fight now which has given me a very good and stable life, so I’m happy and thankful for that. Of course I would earn more in MMA, just because the sport is bigger. It’s the top martial arts in USA, and with so many people following it plus the possibilities to sell PPV, you can make a lot of money. But not everybody succeeds when changing sport, and I don’t want to follow their example. The transition is hard because it’s a totally different sport. The stance, the combinations, the endurance, everything is different. I would do it my way, the right way.”


Rico is turning 30 next year and it is astonishing how much he has already achieved in life. He will not be fighting forever, however he has already some ideas for the future. “In five years I’m probably doing something else, like acting for example. I try to attend some acting seminars, but it’s hard to combine with an active sports career. I’m also setting up a lot of business around my brand Rico.”

If you are curious about Rico’s acting skills, you can see him play the fighter Moss in Kickboxer: Retaliation (2018).

Photo credit: James Law, Glory Sports International

We end by asking who he would recommend us to interview, and his prediction for his next fight against Guto Inocente 29th of September at GLORY 59 in Amsterdam. “I’d recommend Leon Edwards, the MMA fighter. He’s a very motivated young guy, coming up in the UFC. For my next fight, I really look forward to fight in front of my home crowd, that always gives me a lot of energy. Inocente is a big threat, a good fighter who comes with surprise attacks like spinning kicks and spinning backfists. I don’t really have a prediction but I can tell you that he has never been in the ring with the champion for five rounds, and that’s a big difference to all his previous fights!”

We thank Rico Verhoeven for his time and wish him the best of luck in his upcoming fight and in the future!

Text: Pelle Axelsson