Inside Amsterdam’s Illegal Street Kickboxing Scene

This Instagram account streams real fights, minus the drama.
​Left: Man in a black hoodie covering his face with his hand. Right: Man in a grey tracksuit throws punch at another guy with a purple hoodie and grey pants, who dodges the jab.
All photos: Dave Aalbers

This article originally appeared on VICE NL.

A few weeks ago, I found myself in a deserted parking lot in Beverwijk, a Dutch town some 20km outside of Amsterdam. About 20 guys wearing face masks were standing around the lot and staring me down. Finally, one of them stepped forward. “I’m Migi,” said a big guy wearing a red baseball cap and a vest.

Migi is short for Miguel Bustamente. He’s behind Hoodfights Amsterdam, an Instagram account live-streaming illegal kickboxing matches from around the city. Since its launch in late May, the account has gathered more than 30,000 followers, and it’s not the only one – illegal fighting matches have started popping up all over the Netherlands.


At the end of June, a fight in Helmond – a town in the south of the Netherlands – descended into chaos, as an audience of 150 people rioted against police.

Miguel Bustamente aka Migi.

Miguel Bustamente aka Migi.

Spectators stepping out of their car.

Spectators stepping out of their car.

Migi says he doesn’t have anything to do with that group. “Those were kids who wanted as many people as possible to show up for their fight,” he said. “We keep our location secret.”

The idea behind Hoodfights Amsterdam is simple: two guys fight each other, and their battle is streamed live on social media. The Instagram account often publicly announces a different location for the fight to throw off police. “It’s a game of cat and mouse,” said Choppa, one of today’s fighters.

“The cops have stopped by some of the guys’ homes a few times,” Migi said. Fighting on the street is considered an act of public violence in the Netherlands, and is illegal. Plus, during the pandemic, the government mandates people to stay one-and-a-half metres away from one another, which is obviously impossible during a fight.

But Migi thinks there’s nothing wrong with a bit of friendly, open-air sparring. “We just need to make sure we stay away from busy neighbourhoods as not to disturb the peace,” he said, which is why we were standing in an empty lot surrounded by farmland.

A man wrapping one of the fighter's hands in preparation for the match.

A man wrapping one of the fighters' hands in preparation for the match.

“I’ve been watching these kinds of fights from the US on the internet for years,” Migi explained. They’re what made the name of Kimbo Slice, a street-fighter turned viral internet sensation who ultimately worked with the UFC, the biggest MMA organisation in the world. Jorge Masvidal, another UFC star, got his start on the streets, too.


“The goal is to ultimately transition to YouTube,” Migi said, “maybe make some money if we get a lot of views.” He’s also considering finding sponsors among the account’s Instagram followers. As of now, the fighters simply pitch in money and the winner takes all.

I asked Migi if he was prepared for things to get out of hand during one of his fights. Someone could lose consciousness, or the audience could try to join in, for instance. “That’s not going to happen with us,” Migi said. “All of our fights are friendly.” He insists the matches aren’t “a platform for people to settle personal arguments”, and that the guys just fight for entertainment. “But the battle is real,” he said.

Two guys wearing masks and white hoodies.

Two guys posing before the match.

The fight.

The fight.

This match was between Choppa and VK, two members of the up-and-coming Amsterdam-based drill group 73 De Pijp. Their most recent album, Crimelife 1.0, has already been streamed millions of times since its release in February. Both Choppa and VK can be described as sizeable guys. Choppa was wearing shorts and a Paris-Saint Germain sweatshirt, VK was in a grey tracksuit and a hoodie.

“Bro, are you ready to go down?” Choppa yelled to VK. I asked a random bystander who he thought would win. “It’s hard,” he said. “Choppa is experienced, but VK is flexible and has those high kicks.” The two were handed a pair of boxing gloves and a mouth guard before the match. “Wait a second – my dick,” said Choppa, while rearranging his pants.


Migi gestured for the audience to stay back, as the audience grabbed their phones to record the fight. “This is the referee,” Migi announced, placing his hand on the shoulder of a guy named Tommie. “This guy decides everything. And I don’t want to hear complaints about it,” he added. Then he turned to the camera: “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re starting.”

Choppa and VK fighting, surrounded by spectators filming them.

Choppa and VK fighting, surrounded by people filming them.

VK drinking water during a break.

VK drinking water during a break.

VK immediately went for a low kick and Choppa punched back into VK’s defence. “He’s afraid, bro!” someone yelled from Choppa’s corner, while VK kept his defence high. Both boxers are quite heavy, so their punches were powerful but also tiring. Choppa threw a few jabs right before the end of the first round. Then the fighters went to the opposite ends of the parking lot.

Round two started with Choppa handing out a few hard blows to VK’s head. VK tried to escape with some fast footwork, but quickly lost his breath. Choppa had a lot of energy, considering his weight, and finished strong in the second round, with another knee strike and a high kick.

Spectators watching the fight in a circle.
Choppa, the winner of today's fight.

Choppa, the winner of today's fight.

Before the third round, the fighters shared a friendly fist bump. They both went in hard from the start: Choppa did a few roundhouse kicks, only narrowly escaped by VK. The audience howled and the fighters started really going at each other. Choppa’s nose was bleeding, but he kept throwing punches, while VK was once again out of breath. The guys left it all in the ring, with Choppa coming out on top during the final part of the match.

“Time!” referee Tommie shouted, to the audience’s applause. Choppa and VK fell into an embrace, laughing, and took a picture together. “Nothing but love, boys,” said Migi. “Lots of respect for you both, you put up a good fight,” said the referee. He raised Choppa’s hand in the air. The guys got another round of applause, and VK a few pats on the back.

“I’m going to roll a joint soon,” said VK, apparently unbothered by his loss.