Why isn’t kickboxing as popular as boxing?

As someone who finds kickboxing more entertaining to watch than boxing, we can’t help but wonder why kickboxing as isn’t big and as mainstream as boxing. Why is it so under looked when compared to boxing and MMA? Well, that’s the question we hope to have answered by the end of this article.

Kickboxing and boxing are two sports that are much correlated to one another. Though these two sports can seem quite similar for someone that does not know much about them, one can still come across some differences between the two.

For example: while both hands and feet can be used in kickboxing, in boxing only the use of hands is allowed. We can say that on one hand boxing involves punches and blocks, and on the other end kickboxing involves kicks and punches.

That being said, the differences between the two combat sports are not the main focus of this article, so let’s get back on track and figure out why is boxing so mainstream and kickboxing is not, now knowing that these two sports do have some differences, but they are not as big as that.

Before we start to lay out arguments, we have to justify why boxing is bigger than kickboxing and why the first one is considered mainstream in opposite to the second.

For starters, the fact that boxing is part of the Olympics since 1904 (exception made to the games of 1912 in Stockholm, where boxing was not present due to a Swedish law that banned fighting sports), while kickboxing has been trying to be a part of the Olympics for a long time with no success whatsoever with the Olympic Committee denying it every time arguing it’s too brutal.

Other measurement factor are the views. While the biggest boxing fights achieve over hundreds of million views, kickboxing fights are not able to achieve even near those huge numbers.

The money involved is also utterly different in both cases. While boxing athletes fight over hundreds of millions, bringing tons of cash for online sportsbooks, kickboxing values are also way more humble.

Let’s see more other reasons why kickboxing keeps losing this fight against boxing and MMA:

  1. The longevity of both

A short answer could point to the longevity of both. While boxing is the one of the oldest sports in the world, with the first forms of boxing dating 1500 years B.C in the Ancient Greece, kickboxing as only been around for 70 years or so.

We can say Kickboxing is fairly young compared to boxing. With that in mind, we conclude that boxing has had a lot more time to claim popularity and gain viewers when compared to kickboxing.

  1. The cultural tradition

Boxing has always been considered the manliest classic fight that drew a lot of crowds and great fighters, which results in deeper cultural roots that still stand tall to this date.

  1. The marketing and promotion

Kickboxing was never marketed right. Most people like it when they see it, but most people never see it because you don’t see kickboxing on the TV nearly as much as you do boxing, due to a poor product marketing. In the other side of the spectrum, we have MMA.

MMA was marketed perfectly and in the early days it got a lot of casual fans just because of the small gloves, the cage and the bar brawl vibe and skill level.

Kickboxing is a young sport and was never marketed well and most who have a talent for striking go to boxing since there’s more money to make. Again, a lot of it has to do with promotion.

Companies that back boxing and MMA, such as UFC, typically put a lot more effort into promoting their events, the fighters, etc. They will even create little mini dramas to lure people in.

  1. Bad timing

Kickboxing also had a fair share of unluckiness that made the grinding process harder. There was a time when kickboxing was getting more prominent, and it was probably set to be one of the earlier precursors of modern MMA.

Big kickboxing events like Pride were becoming huge… the problem is before it could really gather much steam, MMA hit mainstream and that’s where all the attention went. Nowadays kickboxing is unable to find its own unique niche. It is either looked at as the less lucrative version of boxing, the watered-down form of MMA, or the bloodier version of taekwondo.

  1. Some consider it’s not as exciting as boxing

This argument is one of the most controversial ones when this discussion is raised, but the truth is that the fact that boxing is more “natural” really seems to capture people’s attention.

Besides that, some people argue that the referee’s step in too often in kickboxing, which can lower the adrenaline.

Also, lack of competition in many divisions is a thing, and that can be a turn off. The talent is much more spread worldwide, what can be better for the fighters, but not for the fans, because it results in more uneven matches.

With these five topics we are closer to an answer, but many other points can be raised, so don’t hesitate and share your opinion on this theme with us!

Whether or not kickboxing is bigger than boxing, it still is a great sport that everyone should get to know. Plus, it offers many benefits for health, that are not included in general boxing.

Author: Manuel Marreiros