When it comes to combat sports, no matter how popular the promotion, it usually seems like a stretch to ever say that it is mainstream. Mainstream attention is something that sports leagues like the UFC and GLORY are hungry for right now, but finding considerable hurdles in the way of this level of success. What’s interesting to note is that Romanian-based kickboxing promotion, SuperKombat, has achieved that very success in Romania.
It might be difficult to process at times that a kickboxing promotion could be considered mainstream, but Romania’s population of 20 million is very aware of SuperKombat and its stars. To many of us here in America we might look at fighters like Catalin Morosanu, Alexandru Lungu, Andrei and Bogdan Stoica and appreciate them on their own levels, but when it comes to Romania, these guys are huge stars.
Catalin Morosanu has seen success in his kickboxing career, making a name for himself throughout Europe and Asia with K-1, but Morosanu has also made himself into a media star and politician. In 2010 Catalin Morosanu took part in Romania’s Dancing with the Stars, moving all the way to the finals where he and his partner won the entire show, Morosanu donating his winnings to a widow. From there he was able to leverage his popularity to serving as a councilor in Iasi County, with him up for an elected spot in the European Parliament later this year. Morosanu even has his own brand of wine.
Alexandru Lungu is a guy that hardcore sports fans might look at and be confused by, equating him more to a Bob Sapp-like spectacle, but Lungu was at one time a competitive Judoka, earning third place in the Openweight division in the European Championships in 1999, earning him a spot in the hearts of the proud Romanian fans. Since then he has competed in Mixed Martial Arts in PRIDE, Cage Rage and K-1, as well as taking up kickboxing in SuperKombat. Spectacle he may be at times, but Lungu is a national hero for his achievements in Judo and when he steps into the ring, fans take notice.
With the Stoica brothers there are similar tales, with Andrei, the older of the two, competing for Romania in the sport of Wushu, winning three national championships before winning a vaunted European championship in Sanshou in 2008. It was after that where he switched to kickboxing where both Andrei and Bogdan have had their careers fostered under the SuperKombat banner.
Of course it doesn’t stop there, with SuperKombat nurturing more careers of Romanian fighters, such as Benjamin Adegbuyi, Ionut Atodiresei and Ionut Iftimoaie as well. SuperKombat shows have drawn tens of thousands of fans to events that are watched by millions in Romania as well as the rest of Europe and even America. If you wanted to look at a promotion that has done a good job of being a regional promotion, you should look no further than SuperKobmat, who has done an admirable job of breaking through that elusive “mainstream” barrier and who hold the largest television coverage for the sport in all of Europe.
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His second novel, Terminus Cycle, launches on March 24th.