With the explosive popularity of the UFC and combat sports in general, it should come as no surprise that there are some top-notch athletes in this field. So, who are the best of the best, and what qualifies them to be labeled the ‘best in their sport? In the case of kickboxing, the number of wins a fighter has is a good indicator of skill and performance. With that in mind, let’s look at who the best kickboxers are, according to their scorecards.
Fighters don’t need a high number of fights, they just need a high number of victories relative to the number of total fights to make the list.
Saenchai is one of those fighters that you recognize even if you’ve never seen him fight. His name might be heard in passing in connection with martial arts – specifically muay Thai (Thai kickboxing). So, who is he, and is he any good?
Saenchai started training in muay Thai at the age of eight and started fighting in Bangkok at 14. He went on to win the junior bantamweight title at the Lumpinee Stadium Championship in 1997 at the age of 16. Two years later he returned to the Lumpinee Stadium Championship and won the bantamweight title.
Since 2010, he’s fought 88 times in 15 countries and racked up quite a scorecard. His kickboxing record is 348 fights. Of those 348 fights, he’s had 302 wins (41 of those wins were by knockout), 41 losses, and five draws.
Observing Saenchai: Control and Enthusiasm
This man is an entertaining fighter to watch and he knows it. He’s like a kid in a candy store; he’s full of smiles and enthusiasm. He has phenomenal control over his movements, checking a kick in midair at 15:11 in this video. As far as his striking goes (one of the announcers mentions this as well), he’s a very good boxer. He works his jabs really well, and those big overhand shots must be painful for his opponents.
At 38 years old, Buakaw Banchamek has had an impressive career in kickboxing, and following a brief stint in retirement, he has made a comeback. He headlined the All-Star Fight: World Soldier event in 2019. Over the course of his career, Buakaw has won 20 championships in muay Thai and K1 Kickboxing.
He’s best known for his aggressive fighting style and punishing kicks. His fight record boasts an impressive 239 wins (with 73 technical knockouts), 24 losses, and 12 draws.
Rico Verhoeven is a Dutch kickboxer who got his start in Kyokushin Karate at the age of five. He moved to kickboxing when he was 7, and because of his size, he was competing with adults by the time he was 16. He signed on with Glory World Series and went on to compete in and win the Glory 11 World Heavyweight Championship in 2013. Since then, he’s had to defend his title nine times and has succeeded every time.
Of the 68 fights on his record, he’s had 58 wins (15 by knockout) and 10 losses – two of which were knockouts.
Verhoeven is an interesting fighter to watch because, in addition to his phenomenal strength, he’s a very tactical fighter. He watches for openings and then picks his opponents apart step-by-step.
John Wayne Parr
A common name on lists like this one, John Wayne Parr is nicknamed the Gunslinger. He had his first fight aged 14 and started competing in professional kickboxing when he was 16. At 17, while training under Blair Moore, he won an Australian title. Two years later, he fought Scott Lovelock for the South Pacific title and won by knockout in the 5th round.
He moved to Thailand in 1996 and lived in a muay Thai training camp for four years, first at the Sidyodtong camp and then the Loomingkwan camp under Sangtien Noi. This was where he got the name John Wayne Parr (his birth name is Wayne Gregory Parr). Parr’s nickname, the Gunslinger, came out of his wai khru performance. The wai khru is a ceremonial dance wherein the fighters circle the ring counter-clockwise, bowing their heads three times at each corner. When the wai khru is over each fighter performs a ram muay, which is a more personalized ritual. At the end of his performance, Parr imitated a gunslinger drawing a gun from its holster.
His record includes 132 fights with 99 wins (46 knockouts) and 33 losses. Parr had a brief stint in retirement in 2012 and returned to the fight game in 2013.
Anderson Silva began his career in Brazil around the age of 12 or 13 and used the name Braddock as a moniker. He’s been competing since 2005 and won two championships: the Brazilian Cruiserweight Championship in 2007 and the VIP Fight Night Championship in 2009. With a total of 65 kickboxing fights under his belt, his stats are: 44 wins (29 knockouts), 19 losses, one draw, and one no contest.
Possibly the lowest record on this list, Cung Le is a three-time world kickboxing champion. He was born in Vietnam but left with his mother for USA just a few years later. He took up taekwondo at age 10 and started competitive wrestling at 14. He later went on to win the California Junior College State Championship in his weight class (158 Ibs). He took up sanda at the age of 19 and competed in several tournaments before moving over to MMA. He then retired from combat sports to pursue a career in acting.
Le has had a total of 17 kickboxing fights and won every single one – 12 of those wins were knockouts.
Marie Ruumet, aka the Snow Leopard, is an Estonian kickboxer who got her start in muay thai at the age of 15. She traveled to Thailand with a friend and trained for two months before going on to try out for Team Quest. She had four fights in Thailand and went on to beat Ayaka Miyauchi, the then six-time world champion in muay Thai. She’s the youngest fighter on this list and a fan favorite.
Ruumet’s victory over Ayaka Miyauchi brought her record to 29 wins and nine losses.
Quick note: The announcer in the video lists Marie’s record as having 16 wins instead of 29
Ayaka Miyauchi, aka the Little Tiger, is a Japanese kickboxer who made her debut in 2007 at the CUB KICK’S-8 event where she fought Tomoko Kurimitsu. She took part in the J-Girls World Queen Tournament in 2008, winning the opening round before being defeated in the second round. The following year she participated in the J-Girls Challengers Tournament and made it all the way to the finals before being defeated by Erika Kamimura.
Since her debut in 2007, Miyauchi has had a total of 61 kickboxing fights. She won 35 of those 61 fights (10 by knockout). She’s had 21 losses and five draws.
Jorina Baars is one of the best female kickboxers. She started training at age seven and made her debut in 2000 at the age of 12, scoring her first win over Tatiana Bosman. The next eight years brought her an undefeated streak of 22 wins and three draws. Her record is 50 fights with 46 wins (16 knockouts), one loss, and three draws.
Baars appears frequently on lists like this one, and it’s easy to see why. With only one career loss under her belt, it’s clear she’s not a fighter to mess with.
An Italian kickboxer, Annalisa Bucci has been competing in kickboxing and MMA since 2005. She won her debut fight against Arianna Leonardi and went on to win the National Amateur Championship in 2007. She also won the WMTI Intercontinental Thai Boxing title in 2009 with a technical knockout against Chantal Ughi.
Annalisa’s record is 42 fights with 29 wins, 11 losses, and two draws.
We just mentioned Chantal; now let’s look at her properly. She’s a professional muay Thai fighter and has been competing since 2008. She’s an actress, director, singer, and photographer in addition to being a seven-time world champion in muay thai. You read that correctly, she’s a seven-time world champion in muay Thai. Her record includes 68 fights with 45 wins (18 knockouts), 22 losses, and one draw.
Graciela Casillas started training in taekwondo at the age of 15. She later trained in Hwa Rang Do and American Kenpo Karate before taking up kickboxing. After winning six amateur fights, all of which were knockouts, Casillas hit the pro circuit in 1977. She went on to win her first eight full contact karate fights and make her debut in professional boxing. She defeat Karen Bennet at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in 1979, winning the WWBA World Bantamweight Championship.
Casillas went on to win the WKA Women’s World Bantamweight title in December of that same year. She was the first person to simultaneously hold world titles in boxing and kickboxing. Her record includes 32 fights, 31 wins (18 by knockout), and one draw. She retired in 1986 without incurring a single loss.
We talked about Erika Kamimura earlier in the list, and now we can look at her record. She started training in kickboxing in 2006 and had her first amateur fight in 2007, which she won via knockout. Her record includes 31 fights with 28 wins (15 knockouts) and three losses. She fought in a number of tournaments before retiring in 2014, citing medical reasons.
Iman Barlow is an English kickboxer who started training as a kid and won the IKF Junior British and European titles when she was nine years old. She made her professional debut in 2008 when she faced Evelina Adomulyte and won via TKO (technical knockout) in the fourth round. She is a two-time world champion with Enfusion and has successfully defended that title six times.
Barlow’s fight record includes 103 fights with 93 wins (37 knockouts), six losses, three draws, and one no contest.
Janet Todd started competing professionally in 2013 and went on to win the bronze medal at the IFMA World Championships in 2017. Later that year, she won the gold medal at the Pan American World Championships. She joined the ONE Championship organization in 2019 and is the current atomweight world champion in kickboxing.
Her record includes 48 fights with 37 wins and 11 losses.
Who is the World Champion of Kickboxing?
The current world champion is Rico Verhoeven.
Who is the Greatest Kickboxer of All Time?
This is a somewhat subjective question as everyone will favor a different fighter. With that said, Buakaw Banchamek is widely considered to be one of the best kickboxers of all time.
In Closing: Time and Patience
I wish I had the kind of skill these guys have, but I guess that’s what happens when you train the way they do. It wasn’t an overnight affair where they woke up one day and magically had these amazing fighting skills. It took time and patience – and many painful injuries, no doubt – to develop them. I hope you all enjoyed reading this and that you found it informative.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you for the next one!