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Video: Kickboxing coach Thom Harinck on the legacy of K-1 champion Branko Cikatic

Coach Thom Harinck talks about his student Branko Cikatić (4 October 1955 – 22 March 2020) who was the first K-1 World Grand Prix Champion.

Branko Cikatić (4 October 1955 – 22 March 2020)* was a Croatian heavyweight kickboxer, the first Croatian-born fighter to achieve international success. He was the first K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, winning the title in the inaugural tournament on on April 30, 1993 in Japan.

Among Cikatic’s greatest achievements were his two knockout wins over all-time kickboxing great Ernesto Hoost, both off his powerful left hand-right cross combination. Cikatic was notable as a fighter who never backed down, or refused to give up. A fan favorite for his tremendous heart. Audiences loved him and cheered for him even during his losing efforts.

Coach Harinck with three of his many champions: Gilbert Ballantine, Branko Cikatic, Peter Aerts
Credit: Thom Harinck, Chakuriki Gym, the Netherlands

Coach Thom Harinck is part of Dutch kickboxing’s rich history. Chakuriki, his gym in Amsterdam, the Netherlands has produced several kickboxing and Thaiboxing champions. Founded in 1972, it is one of the oldest kickboxing gyms in the Netherlands. Harinck was Branko’s coach and lifelong friend.

In this first part of his exclusive interview, Thom Harinck talks about Branko’s career, how the Croatian lived in his gym for two years and shares unknown details about Cikatic’ work ethic and his rise to fame when he became the 1993 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion in Japan.

He also explains how Branko was able to knock out Ernesto Hoost twice with his devastating right hand. So check out the entire video embedded above.

And for a better look at the skills and qualities that were the hallmarks of Cikatic’s style, watch the highlight video below.

And, stay tuned for part two of our interview with Harinck, which will be posted next week, where the longtime trainer shares his coaching philosophy and talks about the kickboxing career of the legendary Peter Aerts.

*Author’s note: Branko’s wife requested a correction to his dates of birth date and passing away as the ones available on Wikipedia are not accurate. The dates listed above are the correct ones.