Who is the GOAT of kickboxing? Who are the greatest kickboxers in history? A contentious and polarizing question due to a multitude of factors. Kickboxing has various titles and had changing rules over time. However, there are some all-time greats who rise above the rest. We are ranking the top 10 greatest kickboxers of all time.
The Top Ten Greatest Kickboxers of All Time
10. Superbon Singha Mawynn
The ONE featherweight kickboxing world champion Superbon Singha Mawynn is putting together an incredible legacy. Via head kick knockout in 2021, the Thai-born athlete gave Giorgio Petrosyan his first loss since 2013. Additionally, Superbon has defeated fighters such as former K-1 and GLORY world champion Marat Grigorian dominantly, and former GLORY kickboxing champion Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong.
9. Rico Verhoeven
‘King of Kickboxing’ Rico Verhoeven has had one of the longest reigning championship runs. Currently, the Dutch athlete is on a 16-fight win streak against top-ranked contenders. He is the reigning GLORY heavyweight kickboxing world champion with ten successful title defenses to his name. Notably, he has defeated Badr Hari, Jamal Ben Saddik, Errol Zimmerman, Daniel Ghita, and Peter Aerts, among others.
8. Masato Kobayashi
The superstar Masato is one of the most important figures in Japanese kickboxing history. He was a two-time K-1 MAX Grand Prix world champion with impressive wins over Andy Souwer, Buakaw Banchamek, Mike Zambidis, Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwing, Albert Kraus, and several others.
7. Remy Bonjasky
‘The Flying Gentleman’ Remy Bonjasky was one of the most feared fighters during the golden era of kickboxing. The Dutch-born athlete was able to collect three K-1 World Grand Prix titles during his prime years. He was able to defeat notable fighters such as Errol Zimmerman, Gokhan Saki, Jerome Le Banner, Badr Hari, Musashi, and Ernesto Hoost during his legendary career.
During the 2004 K-1 World Grand Prix, Bonjasky fought in three consecutive bouts against top-ranked opponents. It was a challenging prospect as his fights continued to end in draws that evening and was forced to go into extension rounds. By the end of the night, the Dutch-born fighter had to fight 12 consecutive kickboxing rounds to earn gold.
6. Tenshin Nasukawa
There are few fighters in history who can proudly say that they’ve defeated nearly everyone in their division. Tenshin Nasukawa is one of these fighters. The Japanese-born fighter was a prodigy who made his professional debut merely at the age of 15. The phenom won his first fight by way of knockout and it was a sign of things to come.
In only eight years of professional kickboxing experience, Tenshin Nasukawa put together an unbeaten record of 44-0 and won the vast majority of his fights by way of knockout. The Japanese superstar defeated notable fighters such as Rodtang Jitmuangnon, Kyoji Horiguchi, Shiro, Rui Ebata, and his cold-war rival, Takeru Segawa. Additionally, he’s collected various divisional and tournament championships in RISE.
5. Peter Aerts
‘The Dutch Lumberjack’ Peter Aerts had one of the most legendary careers in kickboxing. Over his 30-year-long career, this Dutch-born athlete was able to put together an incredible professional record of 108-35-2. Most notably, he earned three K-1 World Grand Prix championships during the golden era of kickboxing. He was known for his head kick knockouts and aggressive pressure. Aerts would defeat a who’s who of kickboxers during his career, including, Andy Hug, UFC Hall of Fame fighter Maurice Smith, Ernesto Hoost, Jerome Le Banner, Mike Bernardo, Musashi, Ray Sefo, Semmy Schilt, and tons of others.
4. Buakaw Banchamek
The Thai-born Buakaw Banchamek is one of the greatest pivotal figures in combat sports history. His championship run in the 2004 K-1 MAX Grand Prix when he defeated Masato in the final changed the landscape of kickboxing. This would propel him to become a mega-star in Thailand. During his legendary career, the talented Thai athlete would collect two K-1 MAX Grand Prix world titles, plus multiple Muay Thai stadium titles.
Currently, he has an esteemed record of 240-24-12 with notable wins over Masato, Nieky Holzken, John Wayne Parr, Andy Souwer, Mike Zambidis, Jean-Charles Skarbowsky, Albert Kraus, and many others.
3. Semmy Schilt
Semmy Schilt is the most decorated kickboxer in history. He holds four K-1 World Grand Prix Championship titles in addition to his GLORY Heavyweight Championship and Karate world title wins. He defeated fighters such as Rico Verhoeven, Errol Zimmerman, Kyotaro, Badr Hari, Remy Bonjasky, and Mark Hunt, among several others.
At a height of just under 7 feet tall ‘Hightower’ had incredible reach. Schilt also utilized a powerful jab that he was able to knock his opponents out with. Interestingly, he fought southpaw but was an orthodox fighter naturally. Thus, his long lead hand was a thunderous strike.
2. Giorgio Petrosyan
Giorgio Petrosyan’s technical style of kickboxing has been compared to watching Leonardo da Vinci paint and has even been called the Ferrari of kickboxing. The Italian fighter created a system of kickboxing that has been nearly impossible for fighters to figure out.
‘The Doctor’ Petrosyan is a two-time K-1 MAX Grand Prix world champion and has collected additional world titles in GLORY Kickboxing and ONE Championship. Over his prestigious career, he has defeated notable fighters such as Robin van Roosmalen, Davit Kiria, Cosmo Alexandre, Yoshihiro Sato, Mike Zambidis, Albert Kraus, Andy Souwer, and several others.
1. Ernesto Hoost
‘Mr. Perfect’ Ernesto Hoost developed a form of kickboxing which is still mimicked by fighters today. Under any striking rule set, Hoost was able to be at the top of the striking world for nearly thirty years. The Dutch fighter developed a style of mixing high and low combination strikes. His perfect technique earned several victories via leg kick TKO against the highest level of opponents.
Hoost is the winner of four K-1 World Grand Prix titles during the golden era of kickboxing. He has notable and impressive knockout wins over Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic, Jerome Le Banner, Ray Sefo, Stefan Leko, Igor Vovchanchyn, Mike Bernardo, Peter Aerts, plus several other TKO stoppages.
Even students coached by the Dutch Hoost go on to do great things. ‘Mr. Perfect’ was an instructor for fighters such as Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Tyrone Spong, and even Fedor Emelianenko.
Kickboxing is particularly hard to rank all-time greats due to the rules continuously shifting for much of its history. Below is a list of honorable mentions that could be considered the greatest of all time in kickboxing.
Robin Van Roosmalen
Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace
If you are also a fan of the sport of kickboxing or love these athletes as well, show your love! Whether looking for ideas for boxers, fans or enthusiasts, or even coaches/mentors, choosing a gift based on interest and true passion is always the best option. Customized belt buckles are the ideal gift for any boxing enthusiast. You can customize them with your favorite kickboxing moves or the athlete’s name as the design. Not only will you wear them as decorations and collections, but you can also give them as gifts to like-minded friends.
All-time kickboxing greats in summary:
- Ernesto Hoost
- Giorgio Petrosyan
- Semmy Schilt
- Buakaw Banchamek
- Peter Aerts
- Tenshin Nasukawa
- Remy Bonjasky
- Masato Kobayashi
- Rico Verhoeven
- Superbon Singha Mawynn