A Return to Glory for the Original Head Kick Legend: A Lineal History of Kickboxing Titles

Hello there lineal title fans! My guess is that a lot of MMA fans would make the assumption that my headline "Original Head Kick Legend" refers to Mirko Cro Cop, especially given that it was recently announced that he will be competing in the next big Glory event in March against "The Flying Gentleman" Remy Bonjasky. However, when I say Head Kick Legend, I will always be referring to "The Dutch Lumberjack" Peter Aerts. If you don't believe me, check out one of my favorite highlight reel videos of all time...

Now that your mind is sufficiently blown, allow me to continue...

I've never spoken about my own martial arts background in these posts before, but it seems fitting in this context. Growing up in the 80s, the baddest men on the planet were unquestionably Mike Tyson and "Marvelous" Marvin Haglar. My dad was a big boxing fan and I watched all of the big fights with him. My twin brother and I used to put socks on our hands and duke it out in the living room after a big Tyson fight (until someone started crying, of course).

Later, my dad would enroll my brother and I in a Taekwondo class and, although he pulled us out rather quickly because of differences with the instructor, he kept studying himself and earned his 2nd degree black belt. Later in life, my brother and I got back involved with TKD and after 10 years we each had earned our 1st degree black belts. My brother was always more interested in the fighting aspect of martial arts and gravitated towards Muay Thai. I started training with him and its still something that we really enjoy doing together. We had some friends that were fighting and Duke Roufus was putting on local Kickboxing and Muay Thai fights all of the time in Milwaukee. At the time, his brother Rick "The Jet" was an active competitor and one of the true hopes for the US to win a K-1 title.

This was the early 2000s and guys like Ernesto Hoost, Mike Bernardo, Jerome Le Banner, Ray Sefo, Semmy Schilt, Remy Bonjasky, Stefan Leko, Musashi, and of course Peter Aerts were at or near their fighting primes. All of the K-1 PPVs were available in the US and there was nothing like a 1 night 8 man tournament. I can still remember when Glaube Feitosa won a tournament by repeatedly landing a Brazilian kick. The next day everybody in the gym was working on that technique.

In the end, it was the US cable companies pulling K-1 from PPV that ended my run as a Kickboxing super fan. In need of a fix, I turned to plan B, which was something I only had limited memory of watching as a kid when my dad rented UFC 5: Gracie vs Shamrock. And, that's how I got into MMA. Now, I'm a professional judge with licenses in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois, which inspired me to train in BJJ over the last few years. But, my first true love was kickboxing.

As you can imagine, Glory's latest run on Spike TV has me over joyed. It's inspired me to take a closer look at the history of the major titles over the years. My hope is that it will expose some of the names from this sport's rich history to the newer fans out there and provide some context for the fights that are now taking place in Glory.

Lineal Kickboxing Titles

K-1 Grand Prix Tournament Title
Month/Yr Champion Defenses
April 1993 Branko Cikatić 0
March 1994 Andy Hug 0
April 1994 Patrick Smith 0
April 1994 Peter Aerts 15
May 1996 Mike Bernardo 1
May 1996 Andy Hug 4
March 1997 Peter Aerts 4
Nov 1997 Andy Hug 0
Nov 1997 Ernesto Hoost 0
April 1998 Peter Aerts 0
June 1998 Andy Hug 5
Dec 1998 Peter Aerts 6
Dec 1999 Jerome Le Banner 0
Dec 1999 Ernesto Hoost 5
July 2000 Jerome Le Banner 6
Dec 2001 Mark Hunt 3
March 2002 Mirko Cro Cop 8

  • This belt traces back to the original K-1 Grad Prix in 1993
  • Notice that Aerts held the titile 4 separate times with a total of 25 successful defenses
  • Mirko Cro Cop was the last to win the belt years ago and kept it on the shelf for years while he pursued MMA
  • With Cro Cop back in kickboxing and headlining the next Glory event, there is a potential to put the K-1 belt back into play within the Glory organization. The bad news is that this may be Remy Bonjasky's last fight, so if he wins, the belt may retire with him
K-1 Super Heavyweight Title
Month/Yr Champion Defenses
March 2007 Semmy Schilt 7
Sept 2008 Peter Aerts 0
Dec 2008 Badr Hari 1
Dec 2008 Remy Bonjasky 3
Dec 2009 Semmy Schilt 4
Dec 2010 Peter Aerts 0
Dec 2010 Alistair Overeem 0
It's Showtime Heavyweight Title
Month/Yr Champion Defenses
May 2009 Badr Hari 3
Dec 2009 Semmy Schilt 4
Dec 2010 Peter Aerts 0
Dec 2010 Alistair Overeem 0
It's Showtime LHW Title
Month/Yr Champion Defenses
Nov 2008 Tyrone Sponge 1
March 2009 Gokhan Saki 0
March 2009 Kyotaro Fujimoto 1
Sept 2009 Ruslan Karaev 0
Oct 2009 Hesdy Gerges 3
March 2010 Brice Guidon 5
May 2011 Gokhan Saki 0
Jan 2012 Badr Hari 2
May 2013 Zabit Samedov 2
SuperKombat HW Title 2011
Month/Yr Champion Defenses
Nov 2011 Sergei Lascenko 0
March 2012 Daniel Ghita 6
Dec 2012 Semmy Shilt 0
SuperKombat HW Title 2012
Month/Yr Champion Defenses
Dec 2012 Pavel Zhuravlev 1
March 2013 Mirko Cro Cop 1
United Glory World Series HW Title
Month/Yr Champion Defenses
May 2011 Gokhan Saki 0
Jan 2012 Badr Hari 2
May 2013 Zabit Samedov 2
Glory Heavyweight Title (1st)
Month/Yr Champion Defenses
May 2012 Semmy Schilt 0
Glory Heavyweight Title (2nd)
Month/Yr Champion Defenses
Oct 2013 Rico Verhoeven 1

  • Overeem still holds some titles from his run in K-1 before coming over to the UFC. If he loses to Frank Mir, maybe we'll see him make the leap back into kickboxing with Glory!
  • It's good to see Semmy Schilt recognized in this history, probably the most dominant recent champion in the sport. I hope he gets a chance to come back and compete one last time. If not, the titles retire with him and I've laid out the next iteration of his titles above.

If this IS the end of the road for Peter Aerts, we won't just remember him for his brief run in Glory. His legacy was cemented far before those last few fights. He'll be remembered as a 3 time K-1 GP winner, as a 4 time K-1 Lineal title holder, and as the Original Head Kick Legend.

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