Kickboxing is a combat sport that blends elements of traditional martial arts with boxing techniques, incorporating punches, kicks, and knee strikes. It has gained immense popularity worldwide due to its thrilling and action-packed nature.
Kickboxing, the dynamic fusion of martial arts and boxing, has transcended its origins to become a globally celebrated combat sport. With its roots in karate and Muay Thai, kickboxing is a symphony of precision, power, and strategy that captivates audiences around the world.
Within this exhilarating arena, champions are born not only from their physical prowess but also their unwavering dedication, mental resilience, and an unquenchable thirst for victory. This article is a comprehensive exploration of the current kickboxing world champions, spotlighting their extraordinary journeys, stellar defenses, illustrious accolades, and intriguing tales from the realm of professional kickboxing.
The essence of kickboxing lies in the blend of striking techniques that make up its DNA. Fighters use punches, kicks, and knee strikes to engage their adversaries in fast-paced, high-stakes battles within the ring. In this domain, champions rise through the ranks not merely by chance but through years of rigorous training, countless hours of sweat and sacrifice, and an insatiable drive to be the best.
The pursuit of a kickboxing world championship is a journey marked by sacrifices, resilience in the face of adversity, and the relentless pursuit of perfection. These champions have not only tasted victory but have also proven their mettle by defending their titles, showcasing their unwavering commitment to the sport and their legacies. In the world of kickboxing, champions are revered for their skill, determination, and ability to conquer their opponents. This article aims to provide a comprehensive list of all the current kickboxing world champions across various weight divisions, shedding light on their remarkable journeys, defenses, accolades, and interesting facts.
Heavyweight Division (Over 95 kg/209 lbs)
Champion: Rico Verhoeven
Photo: Het Sportcollage, Nationale Sportsweek 2020
Career Highlights: Rico Verhoeven, hailing from the Netherlands, is widely regarded as one of the greatest kickboxers of all time. With a remarkable record of over 60 victories and numerous title defenses, Verhoeven has dominated the heavyweight division for years. He combines powerful strikes with excellent defensive skills, making him a formidable force in the ring.
Path to Becoming Champion: Verhoeven’s journey to the top was marked by hard work and perseverance. He first won the GLORY Heavyweight Championship in 2013 and has successfully defended it ever since. His discipline and continuous improvement have played a pivotal role in maintaining his championship status.
Title Defenses: Rico Verhoeven has defended his title against formidable opponents such as Badr Hari and Benjamin Adegbuyi, solidifying his reign as the undisputed heavyweight champion.
Interesting Fact: Apart from his kickboxing career, Rico Verhoeven has also ventured into acting and has made appearances in several movies. Rico started training at the very young age of five, as his father was a martial artist.
Light Heavyweight Division (85.1–95 kg/187.4–209 lbs)
Champion: Artem Vakhitov
Photo: Vesti Kuzbass, February 2021
Career Highlights: Russian fighter Artem Vakhitov has established himself as the dominant force in the light heavyweight division. With precision striking and a tactical approach, he has consistently outclassed his opponents.
Path to Becoming Champion: Vakhitov’s journey to the championship involved hard-fought battles against elite competitors. He captured the title in 2015 and has successfully defended it multiple times.
Title Defenses: Artem Vakhitov has defended his title against notable contenders like Saulo Cavalari and Danyo Ilunga, showcasing his versatility and resilience.
Interesting Fact: Vakhitov’s fighting style is often described as methodical and calculated, earning him the nickname “The Black Sniper.” Like Rico Verhoeven, Artem started training at the age of 5, also under the teaching of his father. On the cultural side of things, Vakhitov is also a classically trained pianist. One wonders how he has maintained piano dexterity while being so devastating in the ring.
Middleweight Division (80.1–85 kg/176.4–187.4 lbs)
Champion: Donovan Wisse
Photo: Dagblad Suriname
Career Highlights: Surinamese fighter Donovan Wisse is the incumbent Glory champion in his weight class, having achieved this in 2021, after 14 years of training. He is also ranked as the world’s best middleweight by Combat Press and Beyond Kick.
Path to Becoming Champion: Wisse debuted professionally in 2016, at 19 years of age at Glory 59 in Amsterdam, beating Kevin van Heeckeren. Famously confident – “It doesn’t matter who comes, I’ll be ready” – Wisse
Title Defenses: Wisse three-times defended his position thus far. In 2022 he faced Juri de Sousa, and won to a unanimous decision. Then in early 2023 he won his bout against Cesar Almeida, solidifying his position. In June of 2023 he proceeded to win against Serkan Ozcaglayan.
Interesting Fact: Wisse’s nom de guerre is Dream Chaser. He is fiercely proud of his country of Suriname, his country of birth. His flag giving him “the strength of 1000 ancestors”. And this he has in spades.
Welterweight Division (70.1–80 kg/154.3–176.4 lbs)
Champion: Cedric Doumbe
Photo: Paul Blank
Career Highlights: French fighter Cedric Doumbe is known for his charismatic personality and exciting fighting style. He possesses a unique ability to taunt opponents while maintaining his composure in the ring.
Path to Becoming Champion: Doumbe’s journey to the welterweight championship involved a combination of skill, charisma, and relentless determination. He first won the title in 2016 and has successfully defended it through a series of thrilling encounters.
Title Defenses: Cedric Doumbe has defended his welterweight title against formidable foes like Murthel Groenhart and Nieky Holzken, solidifying his status as a top-tier kickboxer.
Interesting Fact: Doumbe’s showmanship and entertaining antics both inside and outside the ring have made him a fan favorite. The Cameroonian-born Doumbe never knew his father, who had died in an accident when he was born. No doubt, kickboxing and the camaraderie would have helped guide him along the way.
Lightweight Division (64.1–70 kg/141.5–154.3 lbs)
Champion: Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong
Photo: Angela Chang, changangela92
Career Highlights: Thai fighter Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong is widely regarded as one of the best lightweight kickboxers in the world. His mastery of Muay Thai techniques combined with kickboxing has made him a dominant force in this division.
Path to Becoming Champion: Sitthichai’s path to the lightweight championship was marked by his technical brilliance. He claimed the title in 2016 and has defended it with precision and finesse.
Title Defenses: Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong has defended his lightweight title against top contenders, showcasing his ability to adapt to different styles and opponents.
Interesting Fact: Sitsongpeenong’s background in Muay Thai has given him a unique striking style that sets him apart from many other kickboxers. The “Killer Kid” was trained by his father, and it soon became clear he had what it took to become a champion. Almost one third of his fights were won by knockout.
Featherweight Division (61.3–64 kg/135–141 lbs)
Champion: Qiu Jianliang
Photo: Tough Qui
Career Highlights: Chinese fighter Qiu Jianliang has risen to prominence as the featherweight champion with his exceptional speed and striking precision.
Path to Becoming Champion: Qiu’s journey to the featherweight championship was marked by his relentless work ethic and a string of impressive victories. He secured the title and has since defended it with flair.
Title Defenses: Qiu Jianliang has defended his featherweight title against top-notch competition, showcasing his ability to maintain his championship status in a highly competitive division.
Interesting Fact: Qiu’s championship win marked a significant milestone for Chinese kickboxing, as he became one of the nation’s first kickboxing world champions.
Bantamweight Division (58.3–61.3 kg/128.5–135 lbs)
Champion: Anissa Meksen
Career Highlights: French fighter Anissa Meksen is a dominant force in the bantamweight division, known for her speed, precision, and technical excellence.
Path to Becoming Champion: Meksen’s journey to the championship involved years of dedication and a commitment to her craft. She captured the title and has maintained her status as the reigning champion through a series of impressive performances.
Title Defenses: Anissa Meksen has successfully defended her bantamweight title against top contenders, establishing herself as one of the most formidable female kickboxers in the world.
Interesting Fact: Meksen’s achievements have played a crucial role in raising the profile of women’s kickboxing, inspiring a new generation of female fighters. She credits her brother with getting her into martial arts, as he was also a fighter. Anissa holds two degrees in sports and training.
Kickboxing continues to captivate audiences worldwide with its explosive action and exceptional athletes. The champions in each weight division have earned their titles through years of dedication, training, and thrilling performances. From Takeru Segawa’s lightning-fast kicks to Giorgio Petrosyan’s surgical precision, Cedric Doumbe’s charisma, Alex Pereira’s knockout power, Artem Vakhitov’s technical brilliance, and Rico Verhoeven’s unparalleled dominance, each champion brings a unique flavor to the sport.
These kickboxing world champions not only inspire fans with their extraordinary skills but also serve as role models for aspiring fighters. Their journey to the top, their defenses, and their remarkable achievements in the sport make them legends in their own right. As the world of kickboxing continues to evolve, we eagerly anticipate the next chapter in the careers of these champions and the emergence of new talent in this electrifying sport.
In the kaleidoscope of combat sports, kickboxing stands as a vibrant testament to the indomitable spirit of human competition. Through the stories of these champions, we glimpse the passion and perseverance that define this electrifying sport.
As we conclude this exploration of the current kickboxing world champions, we are left with a profound appreciation for their achievements. From Takeru Segawa’s lightning-quick strikes to Giorgio Petrosyan’s surgical precision, Cedric Doumbe’s charismatic showmanship to Alex Pereira’s knockout power, Artem Vakhitov’s cerebral approach to Rico Verhoeven’s reign of dominance, each champion embodies a unique facet of kickboxing’s multifaceted appeal.
These fighters are not just athletes; they are ambassadors of their craft, inspiring countless others to step into the ring and pursue their dreams. They showcase the virtues of discipline, dedication, and determination, reminding us that the path to greatness is marked by hard work, sacrifice, and the unwavering pursuit of excellence.
As the kickboxing world continues to evolve, these champions stand as beacons of inspiration, lighting the way for the next generation of fighters who will carry the torch forward. Their legacies are etched in the annals of kickboxing history, and their stories serve as a testament to the enduring allure of this exhilarating sport.
So, whether you are a die-hard kickboxing fan or a newcomer to the world of combat sports, remember the names of these champions, for they represent the pinnacle of excellence in the realm of kickboxing. Their journeys are a testament to the power of human determination, and their achievements serve as a reminder that within each of us lies the potential for greatness, waiting to be unleashed with the same fire and dedication that burns within the hearts of these remarkable athletes. Kickboxing, with its thrilling battles and extraordinary champions, continues to be a source of inspiration and a testament to the boundless possibilities of the human spirit.