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Bep van Klaveren

Full name: Lambertus "Bep" van Klaveren (Steenhorst-)
Nickname(s): The Dutch Windmill
Gender: Male
Height: 5-8 (173 cm)
Weight: 126 lbs (57 kg)
Born: September 26, 1907 in Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
Died: February 12, 1992 in Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
Affiliations: Schilperoord, Rotterdam (NED)
Country: NED Netherlands
Sport: Boxing

Related Olympians: Stepbrother of Piet van Klaveren.

Medals: 1 Gold (1 Total)

Biography

Nicknamed “The Dutch Windmill,” Bep van Klaveren was born as the illegitimate son of an innkeeper’s daughter under the name Steenhorst. In 1916, his mother married Pieter van Klaveren, whose name he took. After primary school, Bep worked as a butcher's boy and boxed in his spare time. When he was 16 he started serious training and competing officially. Strangely enough, the butcher’s boy became a vegetarian during this period, feeling it would improve his boxing abilities. In 1926 he gained his first Dutch title as a flyweight and from 1927-29, won three titles as a featherweight. After his Olympic success in 1928, he received a hero’s welcome in his hometown Rotterdam and was presented to the Dutch Queen and her prince consort.

In 1929 Van Klaveren turned professional. His career saw him fight on four continents and in many countries over an amazing 27-year span. The winner of national and European lightweight titles in the early 30s, he campaigned for many years in the United States. In 1935 he married his first wife, Margarite Olivera, a banker’s daughter. It is reported that through her spendthrift ways, and a manager who ran off with his wages, he lost most of his money, and after beating his wife, served a year in prison for assault. Three months later he was released on bail and left immediately for Rotterdam, leaving behind all his possessions. In July 1938 he regained the European title, this time as a middleweight, but held it just for a few months.

Van Klaveren returned to America when World War II broke out. After some years of overseas service in the Dutch army he resumed his career and won the national middleweight title. At the urging of his second wife, an Australian nurse, he headed for Australia, where he worked as a sports teacher, dock worker, bouncer, and gave boxing lessons. He returned to Rotterdam and retired at age 41, but that was only temporary. He resumed fighting at the age of 47, and went on a remarkable run of victories that culminated in an attempt at the European welterweight title. Van Klaveren never boxed for a world title, which he claimed was to due mafia control of these matches.

Van Klaveren fought his last bout on 19 March 1956, also marrying a third and last time that year. The couple ran a cigar ship for several years, but he eventually failed as a businessman. He continued to train until shortly before his death, and never took up smoking nor drinking. As the only Dutch boxer to have won Olympic gold he remains a legendary figure in his native country. A statue of Van Klaveren, in fighting pose, was erected in his hometown of Rotterdam after his death in 1992. The annual Bep van Klaveren Memorial has become the largest boxing gala in the Netherlands, first held in 1993.

Results

Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1928 Summer 20 Amsterdam Boxing Men's Featherweight Netherlands NED 1 Gold

Men's Featherweight

Games Age City Sport Team NOC Phase Unit Rank Date Result MR
1928 Summer 20 Amsterdam Boxing Netherlands NED Final Round Match 1/2 1 1928-08-11 van Klaveren (NED) , Peralta (ARG) decision
1928 Summer 20 Amsterdam Boxing Netherlands NED Semi-Finals Match #1 1 1928-08-10 van Klaveren (NED) , Devine (USA) decision
1928 Summer 20 Amsterdam Boxing Netherlands NED Quarter-Finals Match #2 1 1928-08-09 van Klaveren (NED) , Perry (GBR) decision
1928 Summer 20 Amsterdam Boxing Netherlands NED Round Two Match #3 1 1928-08-08 van Klaveren (NED) , Muñoz (ESP) decision
1928 Summer 20 Amsterdam Boxing Netherlands NED Round One Match #5 1 1928-08-07 van Klaveren (NED)
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