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In demand speaker for 19 years
National & international
More than 100,000 people inspired
Passionate, open, inspired, intimate, funny, poignant
Author of three books
Ontvoerd - Samir -Generatie YEP
From small, intimate conversations to grand theatrical performance
Motivation, inspiration, activation
Small or large gathering, audience leaves with new energy
Natural leader
Authentic, accessible & powerful
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Lecture? Table talk? boxing?

I tailor the content of all my sessions to fit the organization, audience and purpose of the meeting. The sessions are suitable for everyone. What you can get out of the sessions is:

Proven tips on adapting to a new reality
Inspiration and perspective (there is laughter, of course!) as a result of an open session
Understanding the value of vulnerability
Practical tools and wisdom to keep improving yourself
A clear picture of how (springy) powerful you are as a human being
A relevant, beautiful and intense story that in any case leaves food for thought
A living example of how you can make something beautiful out of life despite going ‘through hell and back
A lesson on how confronting yourself can change your life
An insight into how great the impact of empathy is in a mutual relationship
A good “do you remember that abduction in 2002…” story during the family or friends weekend.


Mental resilience: how do you keep yourself motivated when the going gets tough? How do you motivate yourself under high stress/stress?

Discipline: self-care, self-maintenance, focus on your goals and more

Finding & making connection: without connecting with others you won’t achieve goals. To stay connected lean on integrity and trust; say what you do, and do what you say


Perspectives: stay curious, learn to empathize with others, see another person’s interests, understand another person’s interests and adjust your actions accordingly if necessary

Adaptability and flexible attitude: learn to switch gears without losing yourself; what do you do if you cannot get a certain situation under control?

Social involvement: how do you use your position (whatever it may be) to mean something to another person and/or the world? I have used my, through injury, acquired fame to establish the foundation ‘Free a girl’ (together with Yolanthe Cabau, Evelien Hölsken & Roelof van Laar). As an individual but also by looking for the right collaborations you can get a lot done to contribute to a better world.


While working as a director at Doctors Without Borders, I was taken hostage by masked rebels in Dagestan, Russia. 607 days in total I was kidnapped. Needless to say, this was a nightmare that I did not know if I would survive…. Once in this nightmare, I still learned to deal with the new situation. The lessons I learned from this horrific experience I would like to share with as many people as possible. I can teach you like no other how, especially in a time full of change and uncertainty, we can still remain flexible and continue to grow under even the most difficult circumstances imaginable.

The mindset that I can achieve and change anything in my life is something I have managed to hold onto to this day. I want to inspire other people with this. You don’t have to go through what I went through. You don’t have to be stuck in an underground pen for 607 days to realize what freedom of thought and action means. To change, you don’t have to take all kinds of exciting courses. It’s just a matter of doing. Let me be your first step in a change. Free yourself from what is holding you back in life! Let my story inspire you to action, your new reality and freedom.


During my deprivation of liberty, music provided comfort and support. Singing and humming songs that recalled happier times gave strength and energy: Green Green Grass of home, Folsom Prison Blues and San Quentin.

In particular, Oerend Hard by the band Normaal became my foothold and in a way connected me to my captors: at one point they sang this song phonetically along. After I performed at De Zwarte Cross, the biggest festival in the Netherlands, together with Bennie Jolink and later did so again in an old prison in Rotterdam, the idea arose to develop a theater performance in addition to the inspiration sessions and lectures I was already giving.

In the performance “Freedom of thought and action,” which was directed by Eva-Lise Geerlings, I reenact parts of my abduction and tell how I endured the 20 fearful months. Jan Wilm Tolkamp, the last guitarist of the band ‘Normaal’ accompanies me with music and vocals. Music helps strengthen emotions. At the time I wanted, as ‘Normaal’ sings, to go on with my life Oerend hard.

My lecture with music is a modified version based on the theatrical proposals, here I not only tell about my sadness, loneliness, resilience and fighting spirit to get through my misery, but also tell with humor about boxing with kidnappers, handling weapons and giving sex lessons to my attackers.

‘Freedom of Thought and Action’ is an inspiring story about staying afloat under tremendous pressure and expanding opportunities. Highly recommended if you are also trying to get moving again yourself, to go after desires and say goodbye to obstacles.

My story supported by music feels even more intense, and this way the audience also gets a moment to really absorb the story properly, which is why Jan Wilm and I love doing this version. You get the best of both worlds.

Table Talk

To begin with, I believe in the power of sharing and thus learning from each other’s experiences. By talking openly with each other, in an intimate setting, you often automatically come to special insights. Of course you also learn from my own experiences during our conversation.

I have been sharing my story and experiences in many ways for years. Also during table talks. A nice way, because in this way a beautiful dialogue is easily created. This conversation is not about ‘my story’, I share my lessons learned so you can apply them to your own story. With as common thread topics such as ‘being trapped in your own choices’, safety, curiosity and connection, valuable, intimate conversations arise. I use my experiences to challenge you to seek freedom and possibilities in your life and to inspire you to build a strong(er) future.

In a conversation of about three hours you work on yourself by learning from the experiences of me and others. We motivate and inspire each other by expanding our insights, while I offer tools to stay in charge of your own life. In every situation you are in control, and I tell you how to take control.

Masterclass - Boxing clinic

The future lies ahead of us. How does your team approach it? In doubt and fear? Either way: Give your team the time to pause as a team and as individuals, and then move forward again.
Self-reflection and curiosity help in seeing new possibilities and also in understanding what holds a team back in progress and how to break through it.
The masterclass provides you with inspiration and insight to increase curiosity towards each other, and to enhance individual strength and agility, possibly bidding farewell to matters of the past and embracing the future with focus. It’s better to stay sharp instead of exhausted!

The masterclass is based on Arjan’s abduction story and the boxing clinic. Through lectures, workshops, and coaching, Arjan has inspired tens of thousands of people over the past 18 years with his message about freedom, resilience, and taking control of one’s own life.

Abduction Story
“Life is full of lessons, but from my abduction, I have gained perseverance, connection with myself and others, and strengthening my powers. Mental resilience. Always staying fit. Taking control of your own life. Being open to people because you always need people to move forward. Fighting against loneliness. Remaining curious about yourself and others, thinking in possibilities. And seeking out that resilience and not giving up. You can be a victim for a moment and have compassion for yourself, but if you’ve been hit, you also just have to hit back.”

Boxing Clinic
Boxing is a sport where you quickly learn about people and where people have to get to know themselves well. Boxing is an inspiration that gives strength and confidence. Boxing helped Arjan connect with his capotors during his abduction, it also commanded a form of respect. Through boxing, you learn to deal with setbacks; how to give, take, and dodge hits. During sparring, where winning is not the most important thing, boxing is also a form of communication. Do you only think about yourself or do you also give the other person space? Do you engage in the so-called conversation or do you remain silent? Boxing is thus a beautiful metaphor for life.

We can box anywhere, but preferably we do this at Maaskracht Rotterdam. Our boxing school is located in an old warehouse by the Maas River. This way, this cool place gets a second chance. We hope that by giving people mental and physical strength, they also see more possibilities than before they attended our masterclass.


  • Mental resilience
  • Fitness
  • Thinking in possibilities
  • Increasing resilience
  • Perseverance, discipline, decisiveness.


  • Taking control of your own life
  • Being open to people (because you always need people to move forward)
  • Literally and figuratively fighting.
  • Remaining curious about yourself and others
  • Adapting/flexibility – without losing yourself.


  • Proven tips on dealing with changes and increasing your possibilities
  • Insight into acceptance, flexibility, taking and giving hits
  • Inspiration and perspective (there is also laughter) as a result of an honest and open session.
  • Practical tools and tips to keep improving yourself.
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