It was unfortunately confirmed yesterday that former GLORY world welterweight champion Marc de Bonte has passed away. Marc had been missing for two weeks prior to yesterday's announcement from Dutch police. He was 26 years old.
All at GLORY Sports International are saddened by the news. Marc was not only a former champion of the organization, he was also well-liked by everyone who worked with him and remained on good terms with the team even after he moved on to pursue his professional boxing ambitions.
His passing is a sad loss to our sporting community. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.
Marc's place in kickboxing history was assured when he became GLORY's first welterweight champion, beating Karapet Karapetyan at GLORY 16 DENVER on May 3, 2014.
This fight represented the first time a champion had been crowned at this weight by the sport's premier league, making Marc the undisputed best in the world at 170lbs (77 kilograms).
His achievement rewarded years of hard work that began at the age of six, when he first started taking lessons in kickboxing and Muay Thai. From an early age, he set for himself the goal of becoming the best in the world, remaining dedicated to his training throughout his teenage years.
Successful forays into amateur competition reinforced his self-belief. At the age of twenty, he won bronze in the 2010 IFMA World Championships in Bangkok, Thailand. The IFMA (International Federation MuayThai Amateur) hosts the world's most prestigious amateur Muay Thai competitions and a notoriously tough competitor field.
In 2012, he did one better, coming away with a silver medal after losing a decision in the tournament final. His opponent? Artem 'The Lion' Levin, who would go on to capture the GLORY gold himself, holding the middleweight title for several years.
Also in 2012, Marc won the Belgian national championship by way of a knee-strike KO in the final round of a five-round fight. The fight took place at 81 kg (181lb) and put Marc on the GLORY radar. He was invited to join the newly-formed organization’s welterweight division.
Marc debuted at GLORY 2: BRUSSELS on October 6, 2012 in Brussels, Belgium. He was winning a fight with K-1 MAX 2012 tournament champion Murthel 'The Predator' Groenhart until a lapse in concentration in the second round led to him taking one of Groenhart's infamous knee strikes and being knocked out.
Ever resilient, he bounced back at GLORY 6 ISTANBUL, taking a middleweight (85kg/187lb) fight with the very highly-regarded L'houcine ‘Aussie’ Ouzgni and scoring a knee-strike stoppage of his own in the very first round.
Marc had a long-running rivalry with current welterweight champion Nieky 'The Natural' Holzken, but several planned fights fell through. He and Holzken were due to fight for the inaugural welterweight championship, first at GLORY 14 ZAGREB and then at GLORY 16 DENVER, lingering injuries prevented Holzken from making either date. Marc remained on the Denver card, but with Karapet Karapetyan now booked in as his opponent.
Karapetyan, a Dutch national of Armenian background and a lawyer as well as kickboxer, is known for a relentless attacking style and high pace. They engaged in a hard-fought war over five rounds before Marc emerged as the winner by split-decision, becoming GLORY's first-ever welterweight champion.
His first title defense would come just months later as he faced 'Bazooka' Joseph Valtellini at GLORY 17: LOS ANGELES on June 21. It was another instant classic and both fighters scored big knockdowns, Valtellini with a head kick in the third, Marc returning the favor with a flying knee in the fourth.
Both knockdowns were emphatic and brought a stoppage win within touching distance, but neither man could find the finishing blow. The fight went to the judges and resulted in much-debated unanimous decision win for Valtellini. Never shy and upset with the decision that could have gone either way, Marc indicated that the judges “need sending back to judging school” in post-fight interviews.
Initially, Marc set his sights on regaining his title. But his activities brought attention from other quarters. Marc had dabbled in professional boxing as well as kickboxing and in late 2014, he decided to pursue a contract offer from German promoters.
Between March 2015 and April of this year, he went 4-2 as a boxer with two of his wins by stoppage. In September, he fought his first post-GLORY kickboxing bout in China, winning by TKO in the third round.
Things were progressing well for Marc; there were also discussions about him returning to the GLORY welterweight division to try to regain his title, currently held by long-time rival Holzken.
Unfortunately, fate had other plans. Marc was taken from us in the prime of his life and we will never know what other achievements he could have added to what was achieved already. It is small consolation to know that our former champion's name is writ large in kickboxing history.