The late "De Klak" : the champion and the story of his life
Grootmeester wijlen "De Klak" en zijn levensverhaal


The best pigeon racer of all times is not with us anymore. Jos van Limpt, also known as De Klak, from Reusel, the Netherlands, passed away after a long fight against a terminal disease on 3 March 2004, at a blessed age of 81.
The pigeon world mourns a great sportsman. De Klak is one of the most famous pigoen racers and his name has gained almost magical connotation. The champion from Reusel has added an enormous breeding value to his homogenous Janssen strain, which has made an impact of his own already for years. Many have bought pigeons from the Janssens brothers in Arendonk, but no one has managed to reach such superior results like De Klak. Klak’s pigeons are wanted in all pigeonloving countries around the world, where his pgeons fly truly in a champions’ style.

For half a century was De Klak one of the greatest champions. A unique record than can never be beaten. He was lead by his intuition, his senses and his ambition to own the best pigeons. Closely related pigeons bread by a true craftsman, is what made them so valuable for breeding. His brilliant results become even more impressive if you consider the fact that the pigeons come from a pure nest. Almost nobody dares to breed with this system these days.
We visited De Klak 14 years ago for the first time. That was back in the time when a textile giant of that time and a friend in one person, Arnold Hendriks, had to go every three weeks to the sock factory in Best. We always stoppped by De Klak’s to have drink and to listent and learn from the words of a champion. Hendriks was at that time crazy about those pigeons and has achieved an enourmous succes thanks to them. I noted down everything important that De Klak said in order to write articles about him. We give you the chance to read some of the quotations from the impressive life’s journey of the champion from Reusele. They come from my detailed report on him, which I wrote in 1982.

A Cigar maker
Once upon a time there was a cigar factory in the heart of Reusel and that is where in 1928 , in the era of poverty and misery, the fairy-tale began. That is where Cees van Limpt, the father of Jos, with his inseparable friend Janneke Janssen, one of the world famous Janssen brothers from Arendonk, made daily thousands of cigars by hand. And just like any other work, there was always time to talk about the pigeons. Janneke, who owned the pigeons, managed to talk the father Jos into pigeon racing. “You have to come and get some from us”, said Janneke.
And that is how it happened. A Couple days later rode Cees van his bike to Arendonk. The father, Driekske Janssen offered three stunnning youngsters to him and said:”be stingy with them”. Thanks to a true friendship, the father van Limpt had to pay less than a week’s pay for them. He surely didn’t have to regret that, because two years later the fullbloods from Arendonk have earned him the whole amount back.
Two years lateer, the already strong Reusel had to deal with……Cees van Limpt. He kept on building up his colony with great care. From time to time, when the budget allowed it, he went again to visit the “guys” in Arendonk to improve his loft. When his son Jos was only few years old, he took him with his bike to Janssen brothers. Jos grew up among pigeons and pigeon racers. His fader was adviced to race under the name of Limpt-Maas (name of his spouse), because Reusel had many pigeon racers with the name Limpt.
In 1936 came the first reson to celebrate when they won the 1st general championship of Reusel after a brilliant season. With 15 pigeons made father and Jos van Limpt the impossible come true. “I threw all the cups away except for the ones from 1936 and 1937, when we became he general champions for the first time”, told me De Klak once. The cups stand proudly on a shelf as a relic of a shiny sport’s history. During the war, father van Limpt hid his 18 pigeons, but even despite that many of them fell into the hands of Germans. Father Cees van Limpt died at a young age of 43.

Jos van Limpt
Jos van Limpt couldn’t live without pigeons and continued on his own. After his father passed away, he inherited his nickname De Klak. His father has earned his nickname by always wearing a baseball cap.
De Klak bumped into Janneke Janssen in front of the cigar factory, where his fahter also used to work. De Klak could buy four pigeons from him, under the condition that he will smuggle 200 kg of maize over the border. De Klak and his brother Piet decided to ride their bicycles with sacks of maize together through the fields to Arendonk. It was a trip from hell, throught muddy fields, woods, meadows and old trenches. “I will never forget it, it was pitch dark and we fell into one of those ditches. The bicycles with the sacks of maize were on top of us. The six kilometer distance between Reusel and Arendonk became a Calvary. With muddy faces, just like world champions in cycling, we arrived in the Schoolstraat in Arendonk”. So De Klak’s road to fame has not always been a walk through a rose garden…… After a customary cup of coffie a bottle of Stella Artois, the promised four young pigeons came. On top of the 200 kg of maize, De Klak had to put 400 guilders on the table….A bunch of money for that time. “And we owe a lot to our Mommy, who made sure that we could get the pigeons for only half of the price.”, said De Klak.
In Arendonk, De Klak went to see also Tis Eyssen, the son-in-law of one of the Janssen brothers. Eyssen had, of course, only Janssen pigeons and at the time, he did very well with them. For 500 Belgian francs took De Klak two more youngsters from Tis. One of the two turned out to be one of the greatest main pigeons. It was the “Pelle Duif v. 43” the mother-to-be of “Goei Duifke v. 45” , which would later become the mother of the legendary “Witpenneke v. 54”. She would later on form an infamous main couple together with “Vechter”.

The Debut
De Klak’s debut in 1945 with the offsprings of these pigeons was very bad. One year later, he raced with 12 young pigeons from the very same couples and they flew amazingly! De Klak got his blessing from above.
In 1948, De Klak became for the first time the 1st general champion of the powerful center - Reusel. During his speech at awards ceremony the chairman said: “The late Cees van Limpt has gotten a new and worthy follower in his son Jos. Tonight, let’s greet the young Klak as our general champion”. “I went to the stage, red in my face and very proud, but I couldn’ t hide my tears when I thought of my father”, said De Klak once to me. Since then, for half a century, De Klak never stepped down from the stage of honour.
In 1972, the club of Reusel was celebrating a unique anniversary and De Klak invited also his friends Arnold Hendriks, Thei Hartogs and me. Also the Janssen brothers from Arendonk were there in their best “tuxedos”. It was a very special celebration, because de Klak has been the 1st general champion of Reusel without interruption for 25 years. And he remained that for many years to come.
De Smed (known for his famous “06”), Lemmens and Muis, “the three big ones” from Bladel, decided to play against De Klak to prove that they had better pigeons. After a fair confrontation, the stars from Bladel seemed to have faded ………
The phenomenon from Reusel stayed loyal to the fullbloodied strain of Janssen brothers. Every year he brought fresh blood from this golden source. De Klak told me, that he has experimented once. “After some decent beers at a fair in Bergeyk, I met Jos Vosters, who had a black pigeon from the Horemans strain and that was the best pigeon in Brabant. He let me borrow it a I had four youngsters out of it. They couldn’t even win the smallest price, only at the exhibition they got a first and a second price. Then I had enough for once and for good and ever since I only bought pigeons directly from the Janssen brothers in Arendonk”, said De Klak. With the Janssen strain did De Klak very close inbreeding. He told me in one interview that the best breeding couple that he ever had was the “Jong Koppel”, unlike many tend to think, who believe that it was “Vechter” and “Het Witpenneke”. This couple had their first good youngster only after three years. On top of that he also had to wait a long time for a prize from “Het Witpenneke”. But he gave her a last chance and from that race she came back with a second prize.……. She saved her neck with that one. Afterwards, together with “Vechter v. 59” she delivered the excellent “Jonge Vechter”, “Kampioen v. 59”, “Blauwe duif v 58”, etc.
The “Jong Koppel” was quick to mature and delivered soon a whole series of magnificent racers such "as “43 v. 62” (won 72 prizes and was twice the champion pigeon), “De Witpen”, “91”, etc..
I asked once De Klak if there ever was a down point in his rich career. “That was when my favourite breeding pigeon, the “56” was killed in a field by trap, which was planted there by a poacher. It won a countless number of prizes and was a key breeder. The “56” was also a son of the world-known “Schalie 53” from Janssen brothers of Arendonk. On top of that, the “56” is also the grandfather of “Zoon 20” , which belonged to the late Dr. Piet Linssen from Helmond”. This praised fancier became famous, just like many others, thanks to his “Klaks” – pigeons from De Klak. In years, the craftsman De Klak improved hij Janssen pigeons. His skilled hand has moulded fine, intelligent, healthy pigeons with strong will and unlimited inheritable qualities.

Other De Klak lofts
A countless number of pigeons fanciers have harvested the fruits of the wonderful Klak pigeons. For example, the crown jewel, the “46” which belonged to Verbart from Druten, came directly from De Klak and became a legend of the Dutch pigeon sport. It’s gloden blood flows in many lofts. The well-known Borgmans brothers from Reusel, cousins of De Klak, won thanks to it everything that was to win. This is where very much likely the most of De Klak’s pigeons are to be found, because they were unseparable friends. De Wit brothers from Lekkerkerk climbed also to the national top thanks to them. They also made Wim Ververs of Haelen and late Thei Hartogs of Brunssum big. Gerrit Linders from Ijsselstein, a friend of De Klak’s, has been in last years unbeatable with his “De Klaks”. I hope the others that I have forgotten to mention will forgive me. Not only in the Netherlands, but also in other pigeon loving countries all over the world had the De Klak strain earned its fame. Ten years ago, his fan Hans Eijerkamp has baptised a hall in his business in Zutphen with the name
“De Klak Zaal”, as a token of appreciation of the great master from Reusel.

Marie
With his lovely Marie , De Klak always had an ideal wife on his side. Everybody was received with love in Reusel in the Wilhelminalaan. How many cups of coffee would have been served there? To have a child always have been the dream of Jos & Marie. This has never been reality unfortunately.De Klak was a simple and nice man with a heart of gold. Despite his popularity he stayed a simple man. Jos van Limpt, alias De Klak, the grandmaster of Reusel made his last trip, one to heaven. His impressive work of life willbe divided over the whole world. The total sale will take place on Monday 12th of April, in Reusel, the place where De Klak lived. de grootmeester uit Reusel heeft de laatste vlucht naar de hemel gemaakt. It is organised by Jan Hermans – De Duif.
The Netherlands looses on of his biggest monuments in the sport…

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