Kickboxing is a mix of boxing and karate. It allows punching strikes and kicking to the body. This is a uniquely exciting sport. Yet, it hasn’t achieved the same popularity as boxing. So, why has it struggled to build an audience?

Kickboxing isn’t as recognizable to members of the general public. As a result, it doesn’t have the same platform. This means that it is unable to attract the attention required to promote fights effectively. This problem is especially significant in the United States.

While kickboxing has several proponents, it is still struggling to gain traction in the mainstream. Keep reading to learn some of the reasons why this might be the case.

Kickboxing Struggled in the United States

The United States is known for setting cultural trends. Kickboxing was very popular in some parts of the world. For example, Thailand, Japan, and the Netherlands have a lot of people studying the techniques of kickboxing.

However, the sport has had a hard time gaining traction in the United States. There are a few reasons why this might be happening:

  • Boxing has a long history in pop culture. Boxing has become a great American sport, with a long history. There are some indications that it stretches back to Biblical times. It was first included in the Olympic program in 686 BC.  On the other hand, kickboxing is a more modern pursuit. It was developed during the 1960s.
  • Different rules. Because of its long history, the rules of boxing won’t change from country to country. However, this can happen with kickboxing. This makes it difficult for audiences to follow along.
  • Amount of money in boxing. A key reason why boxing has become so popular is because of the number of resources behind it. These events are hugely popular. They sell a lot of tickets and generate a ton of betting activity. Because of this, there is a lot of money spent on marketing and promotion. This builds anticipation for the next event. Kickboxing doesn’t have this type of marketing machine behind it.
  • Lack of television presence. Boxing has been able to have a strong television presence for many years. People are familiar with the format. On the other hand, kickboxing can struggle to get onto mainstream sports channels. As a result, the average fan doesn’t have the same awareness of the sport.

While it’s not impossible for kickboxing to overcome these elements, it will be facing an uphill battle. Changing the public perception of the sport will require a few factors.

First, you’ll need a lot of money for marketing. Secondly, it will require a visionary, like Dana White. While the idea of MMA wasn’t new, he helped turn it into a brand that the public could get behind. Hence the UFC was born.

The Rise of MMA

MMA has quickly become a global brand. It is hugely popular in the United States, becoming the most-watched combat sport. Part of this is being able to land strikes against your opponent. In theory, this should give kickboxing an advantage over boxing. A lot of MMA professionals study it.

The downside to this is that it can make kickboxing seem like a stepping stone into UFC. However, boxing is viewed as a sport all its own.

The popularity of MMA could be something that is limiting the rise of kickboxing. The two sports can be similar, both requiring a combination of kicks and punches. However, the marketing from the MMA has made them number one.

It looks like the more exciting combat sport. This is partly because of the marketing budget. It is also because of the arena it takes place in. A steel cage is more intimidating than a kickboxing ring.

Globally Recognized Boxers

Boxing has a strong reputation for building recognizable stars. These can include household names like:

  • Floyd Mayweather
  • Roy Jones Jr.
  • Manny Pacquiao
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Mike Tyson
  • George Forman
  • Joe Frazier

Even people who aren’t boxing fans would be familiar with who these people are. This did a few things. First, it helped bring interest to the sport, as people wanted to see their favorite boxers fight. It also helped to legitimize the sport.

Currently, kickboxing isn’t able to produce stars on the same level. Sometimes, they will go to the world of MMA. Often, though, this will make them associated with the UFC rather than with the sport of kickboxing.

Final Thoughts

At the moment, kickboxing’s biggest problem is with marketing. It doesn’t have the same established brand or star power as the boxing world. This makes it challenging to build hype for upcoming events.

The good news is that this has the potential to change. Given the popularity of the UFC and MMA, there is clearly a demand for sports like kickboxing. Because of this, it could have a bright future.