Boxing Gloves vs. Kickboxing Gloves: What’s The Difference?

August 31, 2022

Boxing and kickboxing gloves are nearly identical, and you need to be into combat sports to notice the difference. These differences are subtle but are design decisions made to accommodate better the different needs boxing and kickboxing have.

The difference between boxing and kickboxing gloves is in the padding distribution. Boxing gloves concentrate most of the padding on the knuckles, while kickboxing gloves are evenly distributed around the glove.

Kickboxing gloves are not a distinct category of gloves. Instead, the gloves best suited to kickboxing are Muay Thai gloves. But this article will examine the main difference between kickboxing-centric and classic boxing gloves.

Boxing Gloves vs. Kickboxing Gloves: Key Differences

Western kickboxing is a combination of boxing, karate, and Muay Thai. Muay Thai adopted western boxing gloves in the early 20th century. Still, they modified them to reflect the different rules and dynamics of Muay Thai fights compared to boxing.

Kickboxing is very close to Thai boxing, so many kickboxers prefer to use Thai-style gloves, also known as kickboxing gloves.

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Padding

Fighting gloves are measured in ounces, which is a measure of weight, but how this weight is distributed inside the glove is the primary difference between boxing and kickboxing gloves.

Boxers exclusively use their punches to attack, and the gloves are heavily padded on the knuckles for that reason. Most boxing gloves don’t place padding on the wrist or even the palm.

On the other hand, kickboxers must also deal with kicks and knees, so the extra padding on all sides of the gloves helps absorb the heavy impact legs deliver. This padding also makes kickboxing gloves more square compared to the rounder and longer shape of the pure boxing ones.

Palm

Besides kicks, clinching is the other significant difference that requires different types of gloves. Clinching is still used in kickboxing, though not as heavily as in Muay Thai. This means that kickboxing gloves have a wider palm to allow the hand to open wider. Boxing gloves are made to keep the fist tight and compact at all times, making them unsuitable for clinch control or catching kicks.

Thumb

Kickboxing Gloves vs Boxing Gloves

Following the same logic as previously stated, the thumb of boxing gloves is rounder and more tucked to get out of the way of punching. Kickboxing gloves’ slightly straighter and open thumb design allows for better control when catching and clinching.

Wrist Support

Kickboxing vs Boxing Gloves Wrist Support

Yet another solution aimed at successful clinching is wrist support. While punching, you need your wrist to be as stable as possible, so boxing gloves are tighter at the wrist and are usually longer. Some even get to the middle of the forearm. As mentioned before, boxing gloves are a lot more rigid.

Kickboxing gloves still need to protect the hands when punching but also provide a bit more freedom of movement, especially when controlling the opponent’s body and hands in the clinch. Some Muay Thai glove models aimed at clinching specialists don’t even have a grip bar, but these are rare.

The overall flexibility of the two types of gloves is a straightforward way to differentiate them if you struggle to do so visually.

Different Types Of Boxing Gloves

Boxing training includes different exercises, drills, and routines, some of which require different types of gloves. Here are the main types of boxing gloves you may need.

Training Gloves

Training gloves are used for partner drills, pad work, heavy bag training, and all the boxing-specific training you do in the gym. Most boxers prefer to use 12 oz. training gloves for their all-around training.

Bag Gloves

Bag gloves come in a variety of shapes and thicknesses. The old-school heavy bag mitts are quite thin, have a free thumb, and are used solely for bag work.

Using them promotes proper punching technique and conditions the hands. On the flip side, many boxers prefer the feel of regular gloves, and some with more tender hands use heavy and well-padded gloves for the heavy bag.

Sparring Gloves

As the name implies, sparring gloves are used only for sparring and are generally the most padded pair you will own. Many gyms mandate sparring only in 16-ounce gloves. They reduce the risk of injury when delivering and receiving strikes.

Competition Gloves

On the other hand, competition gloves are intended to protect the hands while hurting the opponent. Most boxing and kickboxing competitions, whether amateur or professional, are held with 10 oz gloves with more rigid padding than usual training gloves.

Competition gloves are also very often laced up, as opposed to the prevailing Velcro closure of other types of boxing gloves.

Different Types Of Kickboxing Gloves

The types of training done in kickboxing are generally the same as in boxing, and the gloves needed are also the same. Kickboxers need training gloves; they need a pair to spar with. When competing, they use competition-style gloves, shaped a little differently than boxing gloves.

Can You Use Boxing Gloves For Kickboxing?

Can You Use Boxing Gloves For Kickboxing

Yes, you can use boxing gloves for kickboxing. In fact, some kickboxers prefer to use classic boxing gloves if their fighting style is heavily punching-based. The extensive clinching and kicking game and the use of elbows in Muay Thai necessitate more flexible and open-palmed gloves.

However, in kickboxing, these elements aren’t as important (in some rule sets and promotions, clinching and catching kicks is completely prohibited or at least not tolerated), so the usual benefits of kickboxing gloves are not required.

Can You Use Kickboxing Gloves For Boxing?

You can also use boxing gloves for kickboxing. While not an issue, there is no point in doing that. Boxing gloves are made to best meet the needs of boxing, while the features of kickboxing gloves will serve no purpose in that scenario.

Another downside of kickboxing gloves is that their padding distribution and shape make them a bit bulkier and, with that, harder to land between the guard of an opponent.

Summary

At the highest levels of the sport, subtle differences can make a huge difference. This is why the minor design differences in boxing and kickboxing gloves can be a deal breaker when both fighters leave it all in the ring. However, either will suffice for training purposes, so the debate between boxing and kickboxing gloves is more of a personal one.

About the author 

Plamen Kostov

Plamen has been training for the last 14 years in karate and kickboxing, before settling in for MMA for the last 5 years. He has a few amateur kickboxing fights and currently trains with and helps a stable of professional and amateur MMA fighters.


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