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Can Muay Thai Gloves Be Used for Boxing?

Last Updated: 16.05.22


While it is not the end of the world if you use the wrong gloves, we have prepared an article that will show you the main differences between Muay Thai gloves and traditional boxing gloves. The two are fairly similar, but the sports are very different which means that the equipment needed can vary in subtle ways that not everyone might be aware of.


The way you intend to train matters

While the two gloves are fairly different, if your intention is to train casually and you only tend to do so during the weekends, then it won’t be that bad if you end up using Muay Thai gloves for boxing. In this situation, since you probably won’t be clinching or fighting with a real opponent, you can get by using the same pair of gloves for both sports.

On the other hand, if you are a ‘hand heavy’ type of fighter, then you will find that a product designed to be used purely for boxing will help allocate the weight distribution for punching much better. There’s also the personal preference of each athlete since most tend to find the shape and weight distribution of boxing gloves much more comfortable when boxing.

If you like to throw a lot of fast hand combos or you are serious about training, then a pair of pure boxing gloves will always be superior. Conversely, if you compete in Muay Thai you will need to use Muay Thai gloves since that will help you simulate your fights as closely as possible, especially since once you get in the ring, you will need to use the proper equipment.

What’s more, some coaches recommend that you buy both options if your budget permits since that will allow you to rotate them around depending on the type of training that you are doing. This is also the case for those who like to mix things up a bit and focus on Muay Thai but who also want to have a few boxing-centric drills sprinkled in as they train.

In the end, the decision is up to you, and you can get by using just Muay Thai gloves if you plan to train casually. With that said, if you want to find even more information about what makes the gloves different for these two sports, we have prepared an in-depth analysis below for you to read if you have the time.



The palm

One of the biggest differences between Muay Thai and boxing gloves comes down to the way the palm is used. In Thai boxing, fighters need to have the ability to catch and hold kicks, as well as clinch with the hands. In boxing, on the other hand, the palm is only used for parrying shots.

These differences in use make the design of the palm change a bit, with boxing gloves being fairly rounded at the fingers to help the athlete make a fist more naturally. Similarly, since the hand is most of the times clenched in a fist, it needs more ventilation to avoid overheating which is why boxing gloves feature a breathable mesh across the palms.

While there are many variations available on the market, with some models being stiffer and others easier to open the hand with, they all have the common goal, namely to allow for the perfect clenched fist position.

In the case of Muay Thai gloves, the padding is molded in such a way as to let the hand be more open. Some brands use less of a bend in the fingers, while others choose to remove the grip bar instead to help increase hand use.

Thus, this main difference makes it clear why pure boxing gloves are preferred when training intensively since Muay Thai gloves do not promote the correct clenched fist position.


The thumb

Another difference between the equipment used for the two sports is the design of the thumb. In the case of boxing gloves, the thumb is positioned as close to the fist as possible so that the athlete can keep it protected behind the knuckle padding.

In boxing, the thumb can get injured very easily which is why you need a piece of equipment that can keep the thumb out of the way to avoid this. Generally, in boxing gloves, the thumb is either fully attached with leather all the way between the hand and thumb, or with a thin strip of material at the end of the thumb to keep it in place.

Of course, the design of the thumb can also depend greatly on the brand of gloves that you purchase, since each brand tries to have a slightly different feel and shape.

For Muay Thai, the athlete can benefit from having the thumbs less tucked into the hand so that he or she can grip better when clinching and catching. This is not the case for all Muay Thai gloves, but you can notice if this is the case if the thumb has more of a curve to it and is less straight.


The cuff

There is also a difference in the way the cuff fits the wrist, and it can mostly be noticed when comparing Velcro gloves since in the case of lace-up gloves the differences are not as noticeable. A good fit in boxing requires the glove to fit as closely to the wrist as possible and the cuff also needs to be fairly long.

This is because in boxing the wrist does not take a huge amount of impact, which means that the focus, in this case, is to protect it from bending when punching. Furthermore, the longer cuff will also add more wrist support without hindering intentional flexing.

For Muay Thai, on the other hand, the opposite approach is employed. Since the wrist is knocked a lot when the athlete blocks kicks, he or she needs a piece of equipment that allows the wrist to bend a bit when clinching. To this end, Muay Thai gloves usually have a shorter fit, and a cuff that is much thicker to make up for the reduced support.



The side padding

The sides of the hands are generally safe from impacts in boxing, which is why gloves have little or no padding on the side of the hand and very little padding over the whole palm. To make up for the lack of natural support that Velcro straps offer, some lace-up gloves can have more padding down the wrist and on the palm.

Conversely, for Thai gloves, the padding distribution is a bit different, with the center of the palm being usually kept without padding but with most gloves featuring a thick bar of padding down the side of each hand. The purpose of the extra side padding is to add more protection to athletes when blocking knees, elbows, or kicks.

In the end, there can be even more differences or both gloves can feature a very similar design since it all boils down to the way manufacturers decide to make their products. This is also the reason why it doesn’t hurt to research each product before purchasing.



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