Kickboxing is the best choice for the Olympics
Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, news broke that kickboxing, Muay Thai and sambo were now recognized by the International Olympic Committee. This has led to wild speculation about sports joining the Olympic programme. While not close to a possibility right now with the schedule chosen for the 2024 and 2028 Games, the idea of a new combat sport joining the Olympics is great for combat sports fans.
For the 2020 Olympics, fans were treated to karate at the Games for the first time. While karate isn’t (unfortunately) scheduled for the 2024 Olympics or beyond, that doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future. Karate is returning to the Games and the WKF is determined to return in 2028. Boxing even risks losing its place, albeit due to massive corruption with AIBA.
But maybe karate doesn’t need to come back. Maybe Muay Thai or sanda or savate either. Listen to me…
The answer is kickboxing
Of the three new sports announced ahead of the 2020 Games, kickboxing is the one that piqued my interest. He has a large following, a talent pool and a great organization to back him up. Make no mistake, the IOC is in it for the money and not for the glory like the ancient Greek version of the Olympic Games. A large audience is important for the inclusion of sport. Kickboxing is extremely popular everywhere except the United States. This may hold it back a bit, but I have a workaround for this.
To increase viewership, instead of dividing it into kickboxing, karate, and another striking sport, let’s do like the old K-1 days and have style versus style. That’s right, I’m referring to the fact that Nak Muay, karateka and kickboxers are all competing in the same competition at the Olympics. This makes the talent pool even bigger and will increase the number of viewers at the event.
Having the best of the respective sport through any ruleset hitting will increase the level of talent and skill in the event, increase the viral moments fans enjoy, and then increase eyeballs on the event and consequently will increase revenue. It does not preclude a specific region or guarantee victory for another region as if Muay Thai was added to the Olympics. It would almost be love at first sight for Thailand and that would take all the fun away.
We are already seeing Nak Muay switch to kickboxing in Glory, ONE and other kickboxing promotions around the world. Kickboxing is also entering key markets where the IOC would likely want to increase viewership. Japan is huge with J-kick. Eastern Europe and Morocco are also very big kickboxing areas as well as the Middle East. In some of these places, kickboxing is as popular as wrestling in Russia.
I would even favor giving up taekwondo for kickboxing. The event has become obsolete since electronic scoring and having another striking sport would be somewhat redundant. As I suggested moving freestyle wrestling to the Winter Games and adding beach wrestling to the Summer Games, adding kickboxing to the program would require balancing for the Games.
Although just an idea and probably a pipe dream, this style of Olympics striking could appease everyone and help make the sport even better. Also, imagine someone winning medals in wrestling and kickboxing or MMA. He is a future star in the making.
In addition to covering the Olympics for My MMA News, author Blaine Henry also analyzes fights from all combat sports around the world.
Blaine Henry can be found at Twitteron his podcast, and Discord.
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know. Also, Cowboy Cerrone is the GOAT.