Kickboxing has been around for centuries, and many different styles of the sport have evolved in that time. Some of the most popular kickboxing styles are Muay Thai, Dutch Kickboxing, and Karate.
This article will tell the story of the 13 best kickboxers that have ever graced us with their presence in some of the biggest promotions globally. The 13 best kickboxers are in no particular order, and we can only speculate what would have happened if they had fought each other in their primes.
Let’s dive into the best kickboxers of all time!
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We start this list with Ramon Dekkers, one of the greatest foreign fighters that Thailand has ever known. He was a successful Dutch kickboxer in the Netherlands before moving to Thailand to try his hand at Muay Thai.
His nickname was ‘The Diamond, ‘ which he earned due to his toughness. It did not matter if Ramon Dekkers was injured or if he just got out of a fight; he was always ready to fight. He took the Muay Thai scene in Thailand by storm and was soon on the country’s biggest stages, such as Rajadamnern and Lumpinee Stadium.
Dekkers won and lost some big fights in Thailand, earning himself a reputation all over the country. He was known for his excellent boxing combinations and aggressiveness. He won eight Muay Thai and kickboxing world championship titles, but his most significant achievement was winning the ‘Fighter of the Year’ title in Thailand. The Diamond was the first foreigner to achieve this ever.
Sombat Banchamek, better known as Buakaw Por Pramuk, is considered by many as one of the greatest Muay Thai fighters that has ever lived. Buakaw was fighting out of the Por Pramuk gym for most of his career, and his stage name ‘Buakaw’ meant ‘White Lotus.’
Buakaw has been fighting at championship level for almost 20 years and has won some of the biggest awards in Muay Thai. He has won the Lumpinee Stadium Toyota Marathon, the K-1 World Max Championship twice, and the Omnoi Stadium Championship.
What many people don’t know about Buakaw is that he also has a Master’s degree in Sports Science and a PhD in Regional Development Strategies. Baukaw was also a forward in soccer for a long time in his childhood and has starred in multiple movies.
Giorgio Petrosyan is a world-class kickboxer who goes by the nickname ‘The Doctor’. He didn’t earn this nickname by helping the wounded. In fact, it was the exact opposite; his striking was so technical and precise that he could hurt his opponents with surgical precision.
Petrosyan’s road to success was not easy. His family fled Armenia in 1999 to find a better life in Italy but became homeless during the process. Eventually, an aid organization was able to help, and Petrosyan started pursuing his passion, kickboxing.
However, he was sent away from the gym as he was too small and even broke his toes in his first fight, which he was still able to win. After that, Petrosyan was unstoppable and was able to win The ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix and K-1 World MAX 2009 World Championship Tournament.
Nieky Holzken, originally a Dutch kickboxer, has competed at the highest level of kickboxing, Muay Thai, and boxing. He was the welterweight champion in Glory and a three-time European Muay Thai champion. He also tried his luck in boxing and lost a unanimous decision to Callum Smith, a former two-time boxing world champion, in the semi-final of a world championship tournament.
In the Netherlands, the Dutchman has gotten pretty famous and is the star of several documentaries about his fighting life.
Heavyweight champion of Glory, Rico Verhoeven, has defeated many of the greatest names in the heavyweight kickboxing world.
He has defeated names such as Badr Hari, Peter Aerts, and Gokhan Saki. Verhoeven started training with his dad (a karate black belt) at the age of 5 and has been fighting ever since. When he turned 16, he started fighting adult heavyweights. This Dutchman also has a taste for television and can be seen in a few film series and movies, one in which he plays himself.
Peter Aerts was a Dutchman whose past consisted of many different kickboxing styles. He practiced the art of Judoka-kickboxing, taekwondo, and Dutch kickboxing.
Aerts was often referred to as the Dutch Lumberjack because of his devastating high kicks. Peter Aerts took part as a heavyweight in all of the K-1 Grand Prix tournaments, except for the one in 2009. He won 3 K-1 championships and was known for a while as Mr K-1.
Peter Aerts now has a gym in the Netherlands and teaches from experience to a new generation of fighters. He has also starred in Dutch movies, and one of his roles included him knocking someone out for not giving his money back.
Ernesto Hoost, a kickboxer famous in the Netherlands, is a pioneer of the Dutch kickboxing style.
He combined the devastating leg kicks of Muay Thai and the punches of boxing to create a style similar to what Dutch kickboxing is now.
Hoost is tied with Semmy Schilt with the most K-1 Grand Prix championship wins with a total of 4. His nickname was Mr Perfect, as he made it seem easy at times.
Badr Hari is one of the greatest heavyweight kickboxers of all time and is one of the most aggressive fighters on this list. He is always moving forward and has a KO rate of 86%.
Badr Hari’s fighting background began when he was young. He was being bullied, and to protect himself, his father sent him to a kickboxing gym. It is hard to imagine now that anyone was ever bullying Badr Hari. Badr Hari represented both the Netherlands and Morocco when he was fighting and was nicknamed ‘Bad Boy’, because he likes to fight, trash talk, and gets in trouble more often than not.
For example, he has served jail time because of assault charges he was convicted of after causing trouble in a Dutch nightclub. His aggressive fighting style has earned him the K-1 heavyweight title and celebrity status in the Netherlands. He has many Moroccon fans, who are often referred to as the ‘Badr Army’.
Mirko CroCop is widely known as one of the most violent fighters globally and has proven himself in many top-notch organizations. He is the only Fighter that has won the K-1 Grand Prix, Pride Grand Prix, and the Rizin Grand Prix.
The nickname CroCop comes from ‘Croatian Cop,’ which he got as he had served in the elite special forces in Croatia. Mirko CroCop was one of the only Kickboxers that has had huge success in MMA as well.
His special weapon was his left leg, for which the little poem ‘right leg hospital, left leg cemetery’ was made. He was also elected to the Croatian Parliament, where he served for four years.
Another Dutch heavyweight that deserves to be on this list of greatest kickboxers of all time is Remy Bonjasky. The former three-time K-1 Grand Prix champion has always been a spectacle to watch in the ring.
Bonjasky’s technique was different from other kickboxers and included several flying knees and kicks. He, therefore, earned himself the nickname ‘The Flying Dutchman’.
Bonjasky has been very active outside of the ring as well. He has a gym named the ‘Bonjasky Academy‘ in Almere, the Netherlands, where he trains and prepares his students for upcoming fights. He is also a presenter at Glory events and finds himself on Dutch tv often.
Mark Hunt’s career has been one of the greatest a fighter can wish for in terms of achievements. He is most famous for his appearances in MMA, primarily in the UFC. During his UFC career, he won ‘Fight of the Year’ against Roy Nelson and ‘Upset of the Year’ against Wanderlei Silva.
Due to his notoriety in MMA, some might forget his achievements in kickboxing, where he was hugely successful. Mark Hunt had great KO power and was able to take a lot of damage during fights. He was referred to as the ‘Super Samoan” due to his New Zealand roots. He was able to win the K-1 world championship title in 2001.
Tyrone Spong, a Dutch (light) heavyweight kickboxer, has had a very successful career in both kickboxing and boxing. He won the Glory heavyweight kickboxing tournament in 2013 and defeated many big names that year, including Remy Bonjasky. He, therefore, won the ‘Best Kickboxer of the Year 2013’.
Furthermore, he went undefeated in boxing with a record of 13-0 and won two championship titles. Spong, unfortunately, stopped fighting after a leg break he suffered by having his kick checked by Gokhan Saki at the light heavyweight championship title of Glory in 2014.
Sittichai Sitsongpeenong came from a low-income family in Thailand and started pursuing a career in Muay Thai at a young age. He quit school at nine years old to begin prizefighting and sent his earnings to his farming family, who needed it to survive.
Sittichai was one of the best Muay Thai fighters ever to step in the ring. He won the Lumpinee Stadium welterweight championship title, which is widely regarded as one of the most notable accomplishments in Thailand.
He then decided to try his luck kickboxing internationally. Sittichai fought in Glory and was able to snatch the lightweight championship title, which he was able to defend six times. Due to his accomplishments in Glory, he earned the title ‘Best fighter of the Year 2018’.
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Who Is The Best Kickboxer Of All Time?
There have been so many great kickboxers to this day, so it was hard to choose which fighters deserve to be on this list.
It is nearly impossible to determine who was the best kickboxer ever, as some fighters on this list have beat others on this list, who in their turn have defeated others on this list.
If there is ever a debate on who is the best kickboxer in the world, you can count on the inclusion of these great names.
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