Holland’s answer to Mike Tyson Melvin Manhoeff is one of Holland’s most explosive and exciting Dutch fighters. Pure muscle and aggression he has matured over the years into a technically competent fighting machine under both muaythai and MMA rules. His frame, fighting style and some incidents in his past have led him to be known as Holland’s Mike Tyson. We got the chance to interview Melvin just before his fight on It’s Showtime at Amsterdam Arena. Manhoeff won his bout beat-ing Dutch MMA legend Bob Schreiber on points. Later, at Cage Rage 13, in September, one of the most exciting MMA fighters on the planet finally won his first title. This was the prestigious Cage Rage World Light heavyweight belt, won by destroying the very good fighter Fabio Piemonte from the famous chute-boxe camp in under a round with a ferocious display of punching power that cemented his status as a fan favourite.
When did you start training? Bit late starting compared to some but I’ve had almost 40 fights including MMA and Muaythai.
When was your first fight and what style do you prefer, MMA or Thai? I began fighting nearly straight away after I began training. I had my first fight after 3 months training. I like both. I began in Muaythai and I like both stand up and ground fighting. I am better at the Muaythai at the moment but I am going to improve my skills to also be a great MMA fighter because in the K1 it is a little bit dif-ficult for me because of my height.
Did you start training with Chakuiriki? I started with Shoko Gym which was a little gym and then I went to Roe Gym and then after that to Chakuriki. Now I train with Mike’s Gym and Alkmmar with the It’s Showtime group.
I started when I was 18. I’m 29 now, I was a little.
What made you move gyms? Before it was enough for me but because I am getting higher and higher in the game I needed better sparring partners and better trainers and that’s why I moved for the higher level training.
Bob Schreiber doesn’t like you very much, why’s that? Because in our first fight I didn’t give him a handshake in the ring but I only did that to play mind games with him but he didn’t take it very well so that’s why he’s still mad at me He won the fight. It was my first MMA tight wWh punching on the ground. Stand up fight I was wining but when he got me on the ground after five minutes he got me with ground and pound because I didn’t know how to defend it as it was my first MMA fight. I don’t feel shame if I win or lose because I come for the fight and I give one.
What inspires you to fight? It’s an individual sport and I started it originally to relax my body and mind because I was a little bit crazy when I was younger and did a lot of stupid things, that’s why. I did it and it calmed me down I got the discipline to go training every day and that’s why I began and I liked it very much. Then I found I can make a little bit of money from it and there is the potential to go into Pride etc -there is a lot of money at the top level.
Originally I didn’t do it for the money because it was my hobby but now I have found I can make my hobby my job which is nice.
You fought Paul Cahoon before, beating him, he said maybe he wants a rematch, how do you feel about that?
Yes of course I want to give him a rematch because that was my 2nd fight on the ground but it was Ring rules not ground and pound. Now he wants to do it again with MMA rules and I want to give him the fight if he wants it.
You have fought before in England? Yes, I fought one time before in Cage Rage. It was an incredible show, good ground. What I liked the most was that the people in the audience love the sport. In Holland when you win you have friends but when you lose you have nothing. But in England when you fight lose or win it’s still the same and they appreciate also the fighters that lose, which is great for the sport. It also encourages fighters that lose to get back in there and do it again.
What do you think of It’s Showtime coming to England? I think it’s great. Now that I’ve seen a little bit of the Cage Rage and if It’s Showtime is going to be as big as it is in Holland then it’s going to be wonderful for the sport in England also.
You mentioned earlier your crazy side. A lot of people call you the Dutch Mike Tyson, how do you feel about that comparison?
Yeah Mike Tyson is a great boxer. Our boxing skills are also a bit similar I think. But my crazy side, hmm yeah, it is a little bit of an honour to be compared. I think though that the things that he does and the things that I do I don’t speak good about it. Sometimes things happen in life though and I am not ashamed about it. I’ve done jail time and I did nothing with girls or anything bad like that that he did.
Who do you want to fight? I don’t want to fight anyone in particular because I find if you’re gonna do well you must fight who the promoter says you have to fight. I don’t like to pick this one or that one, I don’t have feelings about anybody.
Who are your favourite Dutch fighters? I like my friend Drago he is on his own! Also Joeri, Kaas, all the It’s Showtime team.
Elsewhere in the world is there anyone you are a big fan of? Yes Wanderleigh Silva he is great. I met him in England at Cage Rage and he is one hell of an inspiration for me. Of course I would like to fight him he is the best, the best! I need to learn more before I go up against someone like that and I think it is a tie disrespectful to challenge him because he has achieved so much. When I am at that level there will be something happening then. But I’m never going to challenge him like that.
What has been your hardest fight so far? One guy called Maikel was my hardest fight. It was B-class and he would not go down.
What has been your favourite fight for you? I think the one against Bob Schreiber. I lost the fight but I really exploded on him and that fight gave me a good name in Holland, No-one had really heard of me before that fight but Bob acc-epted that fight and he helped my name to grow.
Is there anything you want to say to the fans in England for when you come to fight here next year? I’m going to do the same as what did in Cage Rage and I hope they are going to appreciate it again. I said to the fans I live for this shit! and believe me they will see that…