Dutch kickboxing star Nieky “The Natural” Holzken is ready to embark on the latest chapter of his decorated career in ONE Super Series.
Holzken will make his ONE Championship debut against Brazil’s Cosmo “Good Boy” Alexandre in a 78-kilogram catchweight kickboxing contest at ONE: WARRIOR’S DREAM in Jakarta, Indonesia on 17 November.
For the 34-year-old, it is his latest chance to chase a world title as he bids to announce himself on the biggest martial arts stage in Asia.
Born in Helmond, Netherlands in 1983, Holzken grew up in a safe, comfortable environment. He was brought up by his grandparents, with his extended family there to provide additional support throughout his childhood.
“My parents separated, and I only had contact with my father’s family, and no contact with my mother,” he says.
“It made me very hard, and it helped me along the way.”
Despite a solid support network at home, Holzken did not excel at school.
He preferred sporting activities to academic ones and often found himself getting into trouble.
“I was a problem child,” he admits.
“I got kicked out of school when I was 9. I had to go to another school.
“I did not enjoy school. I was very smart, but I didn’t want to learn. If I could do it again, I would do it differently.”
Despite his lack of success in the classroom, Holzken had a clear idea about the career path he would take, and he set about preparing himself for a life in martial arts.
Inspired by martial arts movies as a youngster, Holzken looked to find a suitable place to train and learn the skills he saw on the big screen.
He started his martial arts journey with boxing, then extended his skill set to encompass kickboxing, which was increasing in popularity in the Netherlands.
Holzken was trained by a host of top-level kickboxing stars.
“I trained with Ramon Dekkers, Cor Hemmers, and Sjef Weber,” he explains.
“Sjef was very good with my boxing, and Ramon and Cor with kickboxing.”
His family gave their full support to his endeavours. They could see the positive effects of his training on his overall demeanour and well-being. Holken noticed his own change, too.
“It gave me personality, character, and respect,” he says.
Holzken’s motivation to succeed stemmed from his upbringing.
Even though he had a strong support network around him, he nonetheless missed a true mother and father figure in his life and says he and his wife Nathalie are determined to ensure their children have a more traditional, stable home environment.
“I want my children to live with a mom and dad who are together. What I experienced definitely makes me a better dad,” he says.
Holzken’s kickboxing career has seen him compete at the sport’s highest level for more than a decade, and he has competed at a world-class level in both kickboxing and boxing.
“I knew it could be a career for me when I won the K-1 Max qualification tournament in Sweden,” he explains.
“That was a ticket to Japan, and there I signed my contract with K-1.”
He competed against legend Buakaw Por Pramuk, then went on to compete in the K-1 World Max Grand Prix and contested a host of world titles around the world.
But despite becoming a multi-time world champion in the sport, Holzken still has a thirst for more success.
That competitive drive has taken him to ONE Championship, where he takes his place in ONE Super Series along with the world’s best kickboxing and Muay Thai strikers.
His first test comes against Brazilian Alexandre on 17 November, and he hopes to claim a debut victory and kickstart a run towards another world title.
“To win in my debut would be great,” he says.
“I want to become the World Champion in ONE.”