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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Boxing gloves are measured in ounces, which is a measure of weight. However, how this weight is distributed around the glove is the primary difference between boxing and kickboxing gloves.
Boxers exclusively use their punches to attack, so pure boxing gloves have the most padding on the knuckles. Then there is the padding on top and the side of the hand for blocking, but the amount is much less than in Thai-style gloves.
On the other hand, kickboxers and Muay Thai fighters must also deal with kicks and knees. The extra padding on all sides of the gloves helps absorb the bare bone and heavy impact they deliver. This more evenly distributed padding also makes Thai-style gloves look more square and bulkier than pure boxing gloves’ elongated shape.
Besides kicks, clinching is the other significant difference from boxing, requiring slightly different glove features. Clinching is still used in kickboxing, though not as heavily as in Muay Thai.
This means kickboxing gloves have a wider palm and must allow the hand to open more easily. The finger compartment can also be elongated to ensure a better grip.
Boxing gloves are designed to keep the fist tight and compact at all times, making them unsuitable for precise control in the clinch or holding or for catching and holding kicks.
Boxing gloves place the thumb in a way that does not hinder punching. It is often rounder, and the tip is behind the main knuckle padding.
In kickboxing gloves, the thumb may be straight to help with a better grip. But thumb design is something different brands and models do very differently, so there is no single design we can point to like it is with the other areas we cover here.
The wrist of the gloves is the other main difference besides padding distribution. Boxing gloves emphasize wrist stability and have long cuffs with padding placed on the entire length, both on the top and bottom of the glove. This creates a brace for the wrist to minimize the chance of injury.
Kickboxing-specific gloves usually take the same approach, although to a lesser extent. But Muay Thai style gloves are very different in that regard and always have a much shorter wrist cuff and no padding on the bottom part of the wrist. This is done to allow more wrist mobility for a better grip in the clinch.
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 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 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.