Boxing and Muay Thai are two styles of stand-up striking that both rely heavily on punching. However, Muay Thai also uses elbow and knee strikes, kicks, and clinching. Muay Thai evolved from Muay Boran to become a more competitive form.
It’s common for Muay Thai gyms to incorporate Western boxing’s punching technique as it is used because of its effectiveness. Over time, the gloves used in both boxing and Muay Thai have evolved to offer optimal safety and performance and it is useful to know how they have evolved.
Mixed martial arts has become so popular that many gyms offer a wide variety of combat sports training. It is common for mixed martial arts enthusiasts and competitors to cross-train in different martial arts styles.
Boxing gloves and Muay Thai gloves are often used interchangeably for training due to their common use. We examine the differences between boxing gloves and Muay Thai gloves to assist you in choosing the best option for your next purchase.
The first difference is where the padding is placed. Muay Thai gloves have an evenly distributed padding placement throughout the glove. Boxing gloves on the other hand have a greater concentration of padding on the knuckles. The second distinction is in the palm design, with boxing gloves being more rounded in order to aid the pugilist form a more perfect fist. Nak Muays need to be able to catch strikes and clinch by grabbing the back of their opponent’s head, so their gloves are more open and flexible to allow this.
Boxing Gloves vs Muay Thai Gloves: Key Differences
Muay Thai gloves are designed specifically for the demands of the sport, featuring thicker padding and reinforcement in key areas to protect the hands and minimize injury.
Also, compared to standard boxing gloves, Muay Thai gloves have extra padding around the knuckles and along the back of the hand. This helps absorb impact from kicks and punches, making it less likely that the fighter will sustain injury from hitting an opponent.
As boxing is solely-focused on punching, a high level of wrist support is required. Boxer’s gloves will have wider and longer padded cuffs to provide this and the gloves which come with velcro straps will also be thinner and tighter to keep the wrist stiff.
Muay Thai gloves are specially designed to provide you with the protection, grip, and mobility needed to excel in this unique martial art form. Whilst boxing gloves feature open-palm padding and elastic or lacing closures, Muay Thai gloves are constructed with a contoured grip and reinforced wrist support.
This design provides added protection for your hands and wrists while also allowing you to maintain a strong and comfortable hold on your opponent’s limbs or neck.
Arguably the biggest difference between the design of boxing gloves and Muay Thai gloves is in the palm. In boxing, the palm is only used for parrying shots, but Thai gloves need to allow the fighter to grip during the clinch and also catch and hold kicks.
This means that boxing gloves are more rounded at the fingers to allow the boxer to make a fist more easily. Many boxing gloves have breathable mesh across the palms to help provide ventilation. Whilst there may be some variation in terms of stiffness depending between brands or lines of boxing gloves, almost all aim for a perfect clenched fist position.
With the Nak Muay needing to clinch and catch strikes, Muay Thai gloves use narrower, denser padding that offers greater protection without sacrificing mobility or dexterity. This type of dense foam padding also allows the grip required.
As with the design of the palm, the thumb placement on boxing gloves will keep the fist rounded with the thumb squarely out of the way, to prevent it from getting hit or injured. An additional strip of material is usually attached at the end of the thumb to keep it in place.
Most Muay Thai gloves manufacturers tend to tuck the thumb in to give the wearer a better grip. Whilst this isn’t the case with every brand, you will usually find that the thumb is less straight and has more of a curve, again so that strikes can be caught and clinching can be carried out.
Boxing gloves are more rigid and have a more rounded design to keep a tightly clenched fist with less effort at all times, Thai gloves, on the other hand, require additional flexibility to open the palm and maintain more control in the clinch.
It’s virtually impossible to hold the “Thai plum” without the flexibility which Muay Thai gloves afford. The same applies to holding kicks and delivering powerful counterattacks off them.
Both boxing gloves and Muay Thai gloves are made from a variety of different materials, depending on the manufacturer and the intended use.
High-quality gloves tend to be made of leather, which is durable and designed to withstand the strain that comes with punching pads, bags, or people. Less expensive gloves will be made from synthetic leather, whilst the cheapest gloves on the market are made from vinyl. Muay Thai gloves are rarely made from vinyl, however.
Regardless of the material used, boxing gloves are generally comprised of several layers. The first layer is a strong outer casing that helps to protect the wearer’s hand and wrist from injury.
Inside this casing is a layer of padding, which helps to absorb the impact from punches and keep the wearer’s hand protected from injury.
This padding can be made from foam material or multiple layers of cloth. The last layer is usually a soft material like cotton or another type of fabric that provides an additional layer of cushioning and comfort.
Main Types of Boxing Gloves
There are four main types of boxing gloves.
Training gloves are used for standard mitt/pad work, heavy bag training, and partner drills in the gym. They provide the optimal balance between protection and performance. Hook-and-loop closure is typically featured on training gloves to facilitate easy removal and donning.
The purpose of bag gloves is to strike heavy bags. Because they have less padding than standard training gloves, they are optimized for speed and focus on fighting technique. Professional fighters prefer bag gloves, whereas recreational combat sports participants tend to avoid them.
Because of the increased padding and increased padding, heavier gloves are required for sparring to minimize injuries. Sparring gloves are worn to minimize injuries during sparring practices.
In most gyms, sparring gloves must weigh at least 16oz in order to minimize sparring injury risk. Boxers in the lighter weight categories can therefore wear 14oz gloves.
Boxing, kickboxing, and Muay Thai competition gloves are used for competitive purposes in those sports. Because they have less padding than training gloves, they deliver more impact and injury. Competition gloves are weighed between 6 and 10 ounces, depending on the sanctioning body and weight class
Are you interested in learning all the different boxing glove types? If so check out this article.
Main Types of Muay Thai Gloves
Muay Thai has the same 4 glove types as boxing, but there are two other variants.
These gloves are similar to bag gloves, and bag gloves may easily be used as clinching gloves. The main distinction, however, is that these gloves are exclusively intended to provide you with as much of a grip as you would have with bare hands.
Many of these gloves also have Velcro closures that won’t scratch you or your challenger. Bag gloves and even MMA gloves can be beneficial in certain instances. You may want to purchase a set of clinching Muay Thai gloves if you’ve been working on your clinching recently.
Coach Sparring Gloves
These are gloves that Fairtex has pioneered. They’re typically 14 oz gloves with a durable microfibre shell and extra padding in the palm area which allow the wearer to act as a pad man or a sparring partner without having to swap punch pads for gloves and vice versa.
Can You Use Boxing Gloves for Muay Thai?
This question really depends on how seriously you are training Muay Thai. If you are casually training the art of eight limbs, boxing gloves will be perfectly fine. However, if you intend on competing, being comfortable with gloves designed for Muay Thai clinch work will be incredibly useful to you as it will allow you to practice properly.
This is particularly the case for developing your grip or being able to block your opponent’s strikes. This is vital for success in the sport.
In both boxing and Muay Thai matches, you’ll be given officially cleared gloves specific to the sport.
Can You Use Muay Thai Gloves for Boxing?
Though Muay Thai gloves are designed for Muay Thai fighting, they can also be used for boxing. The padding on these gloves may reduce the speed, accuracy, and force of a typical boxing punch, so as with Muay Thai, purchasing gloves specifically designed is a better option if you’re intending to compete, but casuals shouldn’t have a problem.
History of Boxing Gloves
The history of boxing gloves is a bit unclear, as they seem to have been used in some form or another for centuries. There is archeological evidence that suggests that ancient Greeks used leather straps to protect their hands, and some historians have even argued that the concept of boxing gloves may even predate the ancient Greeks.
Modern day boxing gloves were first invented by the Marquess of Queensbury, a 19th century British politician and nobleman. At the time, boxing was unregulated, and many fighters sustained very serious injuries during matches due to the lack of protective equipment. The Marquess decided to create new rules for boxing competitions, including the compulsory use of padded gloves in order to protect the fighters’ hands and help avoid serious injuries.
The gloves were a huge success, and quickly became an essential part of boxing matches and competitions. Today, they are still considered essential equipment for all professional boxers.
As the popularity of boxing grew in the 19th century, more materials began to be used to make boxing gloves. In 1904, the first modern boxing gloves were made of horsehide leather and filled with cotton or sawdust. Over time, synthetic materials like foam rubber were also used to make boxing gloves more comfortable and protective.
Today, most professional boxers use specialized boxing gloves that are designed to protect the hands of both fighters while providing maximum cushioning and mobility. Modern boxing gloves are usually made from high-quality leather or synthetic materials and come in a variety of sizes, weights, and colors to fit any boxer’s style and preferences.
History of Muay Thai Gloves
Muay Thai gloves have a long and interesting history that dates back to the early 20th century. Originally, these gloves were made from horsehair or felt, and were used simply to protect fighters’ hands during combat.
Over time, however, glove designs began to evolve in order to better protect fighters’ hands – especially since Muay Thai is a very physical and grueling sport that often results in fighters suffering from severe hand injuries.
Today, there are many different types of Muay Thai gloves, each of which offers its own unique benefits and features. Some of the most popular styles include leather gloves, lace-up gloves, slip-on gloves, curved-designed hybrid model gloves, and triple-layer model gloves.
The history of Muay Thai gloves can be traced back to the 19th century. At that time, these gloves were made from horsehair or felt, and were primarily used simply to protect fighters’ hands during combat. Over time, however, glove designs began to evolve in order to better protect both the hands and faces of fighters.
One of the most significant advances in Muay Thai glove design came in 1927 when the first lace-up gloves were created by A. Yokoi. These gloves provided much better hand protection than previous designs, but they were still quite bulky and could be cumbersome during combat. Additionally, the bulkiness of these gloves sometimes made it difficult for fighters to throw proper punches or kicks.
In the 1970s, a new type of Muay Thai glove design was created by Boonchu Gym. This new design included straps on the back of the hands and smaller, more compact padding in order to make it easier for fighters to strike their opponents with more precision and power.
In the 1990s, a new type of training glove was created by MK Muay Thai, which is considered to be one of the leading manufacturers of Muay Thai gloves today. This design included a thumb-locking system and double-strap closure in order to provide an even more secure fit for fighters.
Today, Muay Thai gloves are an important part of the training process and equipment used by fighters in this martial art. With the recent increase in the popularity of Muay Thai around the world, there has been a corresponding rise in the availability of high-quality Muay Thai gloves that are designed to provide maximum performance for fighters during training and actual competition.
Should I buy Muay Thai or Boxing Gloves?
This is a question you may wish to discuss with your coach and it depends largely on what kind of training you intend to immerse yourself in.
If you’re a boxer, it generally doesn’t make much sense to invest in Muay Thai gloves, which are often more expensive due to shipping and taxes than their western counterparts, depending on where you live.
If your focus is on Muay Thai, it’s usually better to go for Muay Thai gloves which facilitate catching strikes and clinching. However, some fighters and coaches employ a style of Muay Thai that puts less focus on blocking and catching attacks in favor of evading them and responding with sharp counterstrikes.
Those who are serious about MMA and spending time on its various components should consider buying gloves for different purposes. At the very least, it’s often considered good practice to have a pair of training gloves and a pair of sparring gloves, as sparring gloves have more padding to protect your hand and opponent. Frequent bag and pad work can also shorten the lives of sparring gloves quite quickly, damaging the padding and reducing their effectiveness as items of safety equipment.
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