Kickboxing is one of the most exciting martial arts out there. Nonetheless, despite its thrilling nature, kickboxing is struggling to gain traction among the mainstream. So, why is kickboxing not as popular as other martial arts?

Kickboxing isn’t as popular as other martial arts due to boxing’s prevalence and the rapid rise of mixed martial arts. Despite popular belief, kickboxing is quite popular, especially in Asia and Europe. It’s arguably the most popular martial art after boxing and MMA.

In this article, I’ll explain the main reasons why kickboxing is not as popular as other martial arts. 

Why Boxing Is More Popular Than Kickboxing

Given that boxing represents only one facet of kickboxing, why is it the most popular? For one simple reason; boxing has a long and storied history in pop culture.

Boxing Has an Established Fanbase

Boxing has been around for centuries, and it has built up a following among the masses. As a result, boxing enjoys massive promotion from big names in the entertainment industry. 

For instance, one of the best (and most popular) movies of all time is the Rocky series. Ask anyone to name a few boxers, and you’ll hear names like Muhammed Ali, Mike Tyson, and Floyd Mayweather.

Moreover, boxing promoters such as Don King and Bob Arum go over and beyond to make their athletes household names. They do these by getting boxing matches televised as often as possible.

They also have a knack for attracting fans with colorful personalities and larger-than-life personas (and looks) — think Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.

Kickboxing Has Minimal Advertising Resources

In contrast, the promoters of kickboxing have a more difficult time getting their athletes on TV. This is primarily because kickboxing doesn’t have the history and resources that boxing has.

What’s more, no one personality or face represents kickboxing. This makes it harder for promoters to market the sport as a whole.

In fact, well-known kickboxing champion, Tyrone Spong, went out of his way to vent his frustrations on this issue.

Why MMA Is More Popular Than Kickboxing

MMA has become much more popular in the past few years. Currently, kickboxing is nothing more than an afterthought because it’s just one facet of MMA.

MMA Is More Exciting for Fans To Watch

MMA has seen a rise in popularity recently, as fans have realized it makes for an exciting and unpredictable experience.

MMA allows fans to see athletes compete in various martial art disciplines including:

  • Boxing
  • Kickboxing
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • Judo
  • Wrestling
  • Muay Thai

What’s more, MMA evokes the sense of gladiators fighting to the death in front of bloodthirsty spectators. The allure of fighting for one’s life and freedom makes for a great show. It also adds an element of danger that many fans cannot resist.

Needless to say, MMA is here to stay, and kickboxing might never catch up with it.

Professional Kickboxers Have Famously Transitioned To MMA

One of the world’s best kickboxers, Israel Adesanya, had to transition to MMA to get the recognition he deserves.

If anyone can make a career out of kickboxing, it’s Adesanya. He has everything going for him — good looks, charisma, and athletic talent. Still, he struggled to make a name for himself in the sport.

What’s more, the only guy to knock out Israel Adesanya, Alex Pereira, has transitioned to MMA himself.

How Kickboxing Can Catch Up to Boxing and MMA in Popularity

While kickboxing is not as popular as other martial arts, It’s possible for kickboxing to increase its popularity. But this won’t happen until it rises above the other two in terms of uniqueness and entertainment value.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Perhaps the key to kickboxing’s future success is to focus on the competitive and technical aspects of the sport. This is where it can truly shine and stand out from the other martial arts.

At the same time, kickboxing must invest in the development of more vibrant and charismatic personalities. This will attract more fans with its entertainment value. As a result, fans may gravitate towards kickboxing as entertainment and be willing to pay for the prizefights.

Final Thoughts

In the end, it’s a matter of proper marketing and presentation when it comes to attracting fans with enjoyable events. And it certainly is possible for kickboxing to do this successfully. However, until it does, kickboxing will not be as popular as other martial arts.