BIO LUIS TAVARES
Luis Tavares fights under the flag of Cape Verde, the small island nation off the coast of Africa which both his parents come from. The islands used to be a Portuguese colony - hence Tavares’ name - but the talented young fighter grew up in the Netherlands.
As a youngster, Tavares’ football skills were prodigious and he was scouted by several clubs. He eventually ended up with Feyenoord, a powerhouse of the Dutch and European soccer world, and was on his way to becoming a highly-paid professional football player.
But the teenage Tavares had his mind on other things.
He had come across kickboxing and fallen in love. From then on, nothing else interested him. Every spare hour was spent in training and eventually he decided he wanted to be a professional fighter rather than a footballer.
Initially his decision was met with disbelief - the US equivalent would be somebody turning their back on an NBA or NFL contract. Tavares recalls telling his father what he decided to do with his life. His father looked at him for a long time before concluding, “You must be out of your mind.”
Several years on and Tavares’ decision has been justified. He earned a solid record on the European circuit including fights for Its Showtime, the top European organization bought out by Glory Sports International last year. Now he is getting the chance to fight in the sport’s top international league and is widely considered one to watch.
His team mates and sparring partners jokingly call him Muhammad Ali, partly because of a faint physical resemblance but also because his fighting style is rather unorthodox for a kickboxer and includes a lot of evasive head movement and defensive work. At 21 years of age and with nearly 40 wins to Tavares’ name, soccer’s loss has been kickboxing’s gain.