Jos Thoné (1961) began completaly independently in pigeon racing from the Kruisstraat in As (Belgium) in 1991.
Together with his charming wife, Gaby, he took up residence there in their brand new house with brand new lofts. Within a very short period of time he reached the absolute world top and won all possible titles, such as the world Championship of Versele Laga (four times), the Golden Pigeon of the sporting magazine "De Duif", 35 Provincial wins, 1st National Bourges (OB) and, together with his partner Willems, 1st International Barcelona in 1996. He amazed friend and foe with his innovative approach to all te aspects of pigeon racing. To outsiders, the most remarkable of these is his hypermodern lofts set-up. Jos Thoné has developed into the trendsetter on international pigeon racing in a short space of time. This site gives you a glimpse behind the scenes of this friendly pigeon racing champion.
The discussion at home with Jos Thoné is about the way he approaches pigeon racing. He looks intelligent, talks easely, formulates his ideas clearly and remains himself, despite his remarkable results, and invitations from all over the world. He talks openly about reaching the goals he has set himself and the effort that requires; about how il all began, that nothing in life is free and certainly not in competitive sports.
Jos Thoné: "From the moment I could walk, I was interested in pigeons. At least, so says my father who also raced pigeons.You couldn't get me out of the lofts in the following years. I pedalled my bike like a mad man on my way home from school, to be back to the lofts as quickly as possible. I was busy with the care, feeding, releasing, anything and everything. When that was done, I was off to the basketting room to help getting the baskets ready, preparing the clocks, cleaning and any other chores. I was often the only youngster among the grown men but I didn't care. Just as long as I was working with pigeons. I already knew that pigeons would be a determining factor in my life and that I wanted to reach the top. It was a sort of burning passion which I can't explain. My greatest role model at the time was Jan Grondelaers from Opglabbeek, one of Belgium's greatest champions. When I heard the 'grown-ups' talking about Jan and his super-pigeons, it really fired me up. That's why, when I was about twelve, I was often om my bike and off to Opglabbeek on my free days to stand and peer through the fence at his lofts. This was purely from admiration and as an example for me of what I later wanted to achieve.
Jos was growing up, went through adolescence without problems and reached the age for military service. After serving in the Belgian army, the pigeon bug still hadn't disappeared. On the contrary, Jos was a greather fanatic than ever and had mapped out his goals. " I wanted a house of my own with lofts to mu own design before I was thirty. The lofts to be entirely according to my own ideas and wishes; housing the best pigeons to be had. "Fabulous ideas but of course there was a price to be paid. Or was there perhaps a wealthy branch of te family?
On this subject Jos says, "Obviously I knew realising my dreams was going to cost money. A great deal of money indeed but that only stimulated me to work hard for it. I needn't expect any Godsens from the family. So it was a case of roll up my sleeves and get on with it, with man and might. I saved almost every penny I earned and put it in the bank. At one time I had three jobs. I looked after my father-in-law's birds, worked underground during the day in the mines and taught Computer Sciences at an adult education centre in the evenings. My savings grew slowly but surely until there was enough for a deposit on a house with enough left to build a loft too.
In the meantime he had met Gaby, his future wife, and together they were making plans fot their home, a house with pigeon lofts. In 1989, the day dawned that the first brick of the foundations could be laid. Jos wondered wheter there would be enough money for the loft. "As is always the case, the house was turning out more expensive than planned. I had indeed saved enough to be able to pay for part of the house but all it was an enormous sum of money. And the loft still had to built. I had two choices; either finish every thing off as well as possible with the house as first priority and then wait a couple of years before starting on the loft; or leave finishing off the house inside and doing the same for the pigeons. I decided for the latter. I wanted to start racing pigeons as soon as possible and try for them to pay their way in completing their own accomodation. The house was finished on the outside in 1989 and about half finished inside. The other half would have to wait a while. I started building the loft in 1990, and that too was completely finished on the outside. In contrast the inside was almost completely bare. I didn't even have the money for nesting boxes and perches. But the most importent job was done; a house with a pigeon loft. I would earn the rest as I went along. Looking back, I realise what financial risks I was taking. Racing the birds could have been an entire flop and all sorts of other things could have gone wrong. The strange thing is that I didn't worry about it at all. I was simply convinced that it would all work out and I think you need that kind of mental attitude to get anywhere in life. Not over confident but healthy dose of self confidence.
Jos was still working as a teacher in Computer Science, was improving his foreign language skills and ringing the first young pigeons for friends, these being largely of the old strains of 'Superman' and 'Oude Grijze'. He began with a total of 150 birds in the new lofts, which were without even a nesting box or perch.
Jos, ' I wanted to race efficiently ad possible right from the start. A concept that I have adhered to up the present day. So no fostering and no stayers , I want nothing of that. I wanted racing pigeons that were flyers. I also wanted to test them to the limit so that only the very best would be left. In my opinion being hard on your birds is no problem as long as it's in the right conditions. A pigeon can take a lot if it's in peak foem. That's why, from the start, I wanted to set the tone of quality. After all, the next year I wanted to breed the remaining birds. and that's what I did. Only the best could stay. The parents which had produced the birds which blossomed in my lofts with my care, were also acquired and put in the stock loft in AS. The following year I could breed more from them as well as from those that had survived the system. Since I raced with yearlings and old birds on the double widowhood system, I not only knew which were the good cocks but also immediately spotted the good hens. The consequence was that the pool of good birds manifest itself in no time at all. In that first year the birds raced to cardboard boxes instead of fine wooden boxes. However they raced so well that they quickly earned their own accommodation. Things were going so well that in a relatively short space of time I could finish off furnishing the house too. In short, we were soon in top gear and so far haven't sloweddown either. I can increase the criterion for quality from my own birds am now at the stage that any or every one of my birds could produce a topflyer.
The achievements of the Thoné birds didn't pass unnoticed of course and reporters and other interested parties found their way to As more and more often. Nowadays in AS, you can bump into pigeon fanciers from all over the world and sometimes Jos takes up an invitation from a distant country. Such visits are in the winter since Jos is the pivot of activity in the lofts in th summer.
Judging from invitations, there is even interest in pigeon racing in the Middle East. "Yes your first reaction is one of amazement, when an invitation arrives from Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia because he turns out to be a pigeon fancier too.It's an invitation I accepted with pleasure and I enjoued the way they treated me. the same is true of countries such as Japan, Taiwan etc.. where as a guest yu are always treated very well. I was also very impressed with the meetings I had with various respected people in those countries, several of whom I now count among my friends.
As far as that concerned, it would appear that Jos Thoné has achieved many of his goals. He does indeed live in his dream house, together with Gaby. He has two wonderful sons named Xavier and Maxim. He has built his super-trendy lofts and has also been awarded all the important championship titles and his birds race faster by year. What more could he ask for?
Jos, "You' re right of course. When you list them all, it's an impressive record. But don't forget that I remain in the first instance a pigeon fancier, who gets enormous pleasur from the return of a motivated bird from a race and from watching the growth of the splendid youngsters in the nest. On top of that the fact that pigeon racing is developing at a great rate and in order to stay at the topn I and my birds also have the continue to develop. Stagnation means decline, applies to pigeon racing too. In addition, I want to carry on developing the perfect Thoné bird. That is my ultimate dream.
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Jos, Gaby, Xavier and Maxim