Best Kickboxers of All Time – Top Fighters in the World

Kickboxing is seeing a resurgence with some big promotions like Glory, One Kickboxing, Bellator, and K-1. Who is the best kickboxer of all time? It’s hard to give a definitive answer because it depends, but here is a list of the top fighters and kickboxing champions in no particular order.

What is the Difference Between Kickboxing and Muay Thai?

Where are all the Thai fighters on this list? Kickboxing and muay thai are two different sports, and fighters are better suited to specific rulesets.

Here are general kickboxing rules:

  • You can strike with hands, feet (shins), and knees
  • Throws are not allowed
  • You can sweep if kicking out support leg with the front of your shin/foot
  • You can only catch if you follow up with an immediate strike and release
  • You can only clinch if you follow up with an immediate strike and release

This isn’t a matter of which style is better, there are just different rules. There are many fighters who have success crossing over from muay thai and vice versa. Some of them are even on this list.

Retired Kickboxers

Peter Aerts

Record: 106 – 35 – 2
Wins by KO: 79
Weight Class: Heavyweight, Super Heavyweight
Nationality: Dutch

Peter Aerts Highlights by Heikki Mustola

Peter “The Dutch Lumberjack” Aerts was regarded by many as the best heavyweight kickboxer of all time. His nickname came from his powerful knockout kicks that could chop down opponents.

Aerts won the K-1 World Grand Prix three times, with his 1998 win going down as one of the best K-1 World Grand Prix ever. To win the 1998 championship he stopped all three of his opponents: Satake, Bernardo, and Hug.

Peter Aerts also holds notable wins over Hoost, Schilt, Le Banner, and Saki.

Kickboxing Titles

  • 1998 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion
  • 1995 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion
  • 1994 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion
  • 1994 The Night of the Stars tournament champion
  • 2991 IKBF World Heavyweight Championship
  • 1990 IKBF World Heavyweight Championship

Ernesto Hoost

Record: 99 – 21 – 1
Wins by KO: 62
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight, Heavyweight, Super Heavyweight
Nationality: Dutch

Ernesto Hoost Highlights by Heikki Mustola

Also known as “Mr. Perfect”, Ernest Hoost is one of the greatest kickboxers of all time. He won the K-1 Grand Prix a record four times, tieing with one of the other K1 champions on the list.

One of the best parts of Hoost’s game is his devastating leg kick. He throws it with such perfection and commitment that it’s like a work of art.

Hoost also holds notable wins over other great fighters such as Aerts, Hug, Cro Cop, Sefo, Bernardo, and Le Banner.

Kickboxing Titles

  • 2014 WKO World Heavyweight Champion
  • 2002 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion
  • 2000 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion
  • 1999 K-1 Grand Prix ’99 Final Round Champion
  • 1997 K-1 Grand Prix ’97 Final Champion
  • 1994 I.S.K.A. Full Contact Light Heavyweight World Champion
  • 1994 K-2 Plus Tournament 1994 Champion
  • 1993 K-2 Grand Prix ’93 Champion
  • 1993 W.M.T.A. & W.K.A. Light Heavyweight World Champion
  • 1990 W.K.A. World Kickboxing Champion
  • 1989 Savate World Champion
  • 1988 W.K.A. European Kickboxing Champion
  • 1988 Savate European Champion
  • 1988 I.S.K.A. European Full Contact Champion
  • 1988 I.S.K.A. European Muay Thai Champion

Semmy Schilt

Record: 43 – 6 – 1
Wins by KO: 20
Weight Class: Heavyweight, Super Heavyweight
Nationality: Dutch

Semmy Schilt Highlights by Fred Eriko

Schilt is a beast who transitioned to kickboxing from karate and MMA. He’s tied with Hoost for the record of K-1 Grand Prix wins with four and he’s the only fighter to win the K-1 Grand Prix three times in a row.

Schilt has wins over many of the best heavyweights like Verhoeven, Saki, Le Banner, Bonjasky, and Hoost.

Kickboxing Titles

  • Glory Heavyweight Championship (One time; First)
  • Glory 2012 Heavyweight Grand Slam Tournament Champion
  • K-1 Super Heavyweight Championship
  • 2009 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion
  • 2007 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion
  • 2006 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion
  • 2005 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion

Active Kickboxers

Buakaw Banchamek

Record: 238 – 24 – 12
Wins by KO: 72
Weight Class: Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight
Nationality: Thai

Buakaw K1 Highlights by Mavari

Buakaw is a great example of a fighter who successfully went from muay thai to kickboxing. His dominance in global kickboxing scene brought attention to muay thai’s effectiveness as a striking art.

One thing that Buakaw does well is smash. His style is aggressive and he’s always moving forward to go for the KO. His punches and kicks both pack knockout power.

Buakaw won the K-1 World Max twice. He would’ve won in 2005 too, but had a controversial decision loss to Souwer in an extra round.

Kickboxing Titles

  • 2015 Wu Lin Feng World Championship
  • 2006 K-1 World MAX Champion
  • 2004 K-1 World MAX Champion

Giorgio Petrosyan

Record: 90 – 2 – 2
Wins by KO: 39
Weight Class: Bantamweight, Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight
Nationality: Italian, Armenian

Giorgio Petrosyan Highlights by The BOXING WALLABY WORKSHOP

You can’t talk about the best kickboxers in the world without mentioning Petro. Petrosyan, also known as “The Doctor”, is an extremely technical fighter. He has great footwork and body movement that contribute to his elusiveness and counter-striking ability.

Giorgio fights with high fight IQ, and his highly accurate punches land with precision. His technical skill lets him pick apart other fighters, and it’s amazing to watch. That’s one reason why his win rate is so high.

Kickboxing Titles

  • Bellator Kickboxing Lightweight Champion
  • World version W5 World Champion-71 kg
  • 2012 Glory Slam Tournament Champion
  • 2010 K-1 World MAX World Tournament Champion
  • 2009 K-1 World MAX World Tournament Champion
  • 2007 JFN Tournament Champion
  • 2006 JFN Tournament Champion
  • Hero Legends Champion
  • WKN Intercontinental Welterweight Oriental Champion

Badr Hari

Record: 106 – 13
Wins by KO: 92
Weight Class: Heavyweight, Super Heavyweight
Nationality: Dutch, Morrocan

Badr Hari Highlights by Stillw1ll

Badr “Golden Boy” Hari is simply straight up savage and his record speaks for itself with 92 wins by KO. He has notable wins over some other greats on this list such as Aerts, Schilt, Saki, and Zimmerman.

Hari has a very aggressive walk-forward fighting style. He simply goes after the knockout whether it’s with a punch or kick. This natural aggression has gotten him in trouble both in and out of the ring. The controversies surround Hari also gave him the nickname, “Bad Boy”.

Kickboxing Titles

  • 2014 GFC Fight Series 1 Heavyweight Tournament Champion
  • 2009–2010 It’s Showtime Heavyweight champion +95 kg
  • 2007–2008 K-1 Heavyweight champion −100 kg

Rico Verhoeven

Record: 55 – 10
Wins by KO: 16
Weight Class: Heavyweight, Super Heavyweight
Nationality: Dutch

Rico Verhoeven Highlights by FIGHTNEWS

“The King of Kickboxing”, Verhoeven lives up to the hype. He’s the current Glory Heavyweight Champion and has defended the title eight times.

Verhoeven is an intelligent fighter with high fight IQ, which might be surprising for such a big dude. He’s technical and able to pick apart his opponents’ game.

The King holds notable wins over Hari, Aerts, Zimmerman, Saki, and Ghita.

Kickboxing Titles

  • 2014 Glory Heavyweight World Championship Tournament Champion
  • Glory Heavyweight Championship

It’s worth noting that this list is a work in progress. Who else needs to be added to the list of best kickboxers of all time?

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