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Can You Use Boxing Gloves for Muay Thai?

Last Updated: 16.05.22


If you’ve wanted to use Everlast boxing gloves for a while now, but you never had the chance, you should take some time and also figure out what sport you want to try. You may have been interested in trying out boxing or going completely wild and learning Muay Thai.

The problem here is that gloves like these are not really easy to find or rent so other than borrowing them from a friend, you will likely have to buy your own pair. Since they aren’t exactly cheap, you face the problem of having to inform yourself before choosing a course of action.

This dilemma raises a very simple question for somebody who is not accustomed to combat sports: can you use the same type of gloves for Muay Thai as well or are boxing gloves strictly used in a boxing match? Keep reading and find out the answer to this question.


Historical differences

To be blunt, it’s not the end of the world if you use the gloves for the wrong sport, but it’s still a good idea to understand the main differences between them and know a little about why they are different in the first place.

While both sports use pretty similar gloves, their evolution sets them worlds apart. Boxing has been a competitive sport for quite some time now, being essentially promoted by the Greeks during the Olympics in the year 688 BC. At its core, it is a sport designed to see who the better man is when stripped down to a limited ruleset.

Muay Thai, on the other hand, is also called the “Science of Eight Limbs” and has its roots in a form of unarmed combat that soldiers were taught to use when disarmed on the battlefield. The ones that survived passed down these techniques and they eventually evolved into a fully-fledged fighting style.

Having seen this, it’s understandable that the equipment required for them would vary a little. On one hand, boxing gloves need to be perfect for giving and blocking punches while Muay Thai requires gloves that can adapt to clinching, elbows, and blocking kicks.



The palm

The biggest difference between these two combat sports really comes down to one thing: the use of the palm. Boxers only use the palm of the hand for parrying shots, but Muay Thai fighters also use it for clinching and catching their opponent’s kicks with their hands.

Due to this, you will notice that boxing gloves are typically rounded at the fingers because this helps the boxers make a more natural first. Some improvements have also been added where better gloves feature a breathable mesh across the palm in order to help with ventilation. While some gloves are stiff and others open easier, all of them aim for the clenched fist position.

Muay Thai gloves will mold the padding so that you have a lot more opening of the palm. Gripping is a choice of the manufacturer, with some opting for less of a bend in the fingers while others allow more liberal use of the hand by removing the grip bar. Not many Thai brands utilize the breathable mesh across the palm, but some of them choose to go for it.


The thumb

This is another difference between the two types of gloves. Because the fighting styles are quite different, the thumb sees a lot more use in Muay Thai compared to boxing. On boxing gloves, it’s normally kept as close to the fist as possible to minimize the risk of injury by protecting it behind the knuckle padding whenever possible.

Punching in boxing is really about keeping the thumb out of the way as much as possible. It will either be attached with a thin strip of material to keep it in place or some gloves come with fully attached leather, all the way up between the thumb and the hand.

On a Muay Thai glove, on the other hand, having more freedom of movement for the thumb is likely to help you a lot with clinching and catching. Even so, you won’t really find gloves which keep the thumb straight but they usually add a little bit of curve to its position.


Side padding

Boxers really don’t use the side of their hands that much, so those parts are usually safe from impact. Due to this, boxing gloves will often have no padding at all on the side of the hand and very little, if any, all over the whole palm.

On the other side of the field, lace-up gloves will usually have a bit more padding even down to the wrist to make up for the natural support for the hands that you get with a velcro strap. The distribution can be a little different though because Muay Thai fighters need much more protection down the side of each hand due to using their hands for blocking knees or elbows.

If you are undecided, all you have to do is really look at a pair of gloves and check for the lumps on their side. If you can clearly see it, then that’s a Muay Thai glove for sure. If it’s barely visible, it was most likely designed for boxing.



The cuff

The final major difference when comparing the two gloves is the way the cuff fits the wrist. Old school lace-up gloves don’t present much of a difference, but it’s fairly noticeable when looking at velcro ones.

Boxers need their gloves to stay as close to the wrist as possible, with a fairly long fit. Since their wrists aren’t normally on the receiving end of blows, the priority is to prevent them from bending when punching. That’s why they need those tight gloves to add a little wrist support while still allowing intentional flexing.

Muay Thai fighters need almost the exact opposite since the wrists get kicked a lot when trying to block. They will also need some space to bend when clinching a lock around the opponent’s neck. Due to this, Muay Thai gloves usually opt for a shorter fit, compensating for the reduced support with a very thick cuff.


What you should do

As you can see, there are a lot of variables when it comes to choosing a pair of gloves and it’s very important what exactly you want to use them for. If you’re just starting Muay Thai and the only thing you can find are your dad’s old boxing gloves, you can probably use those for the first couple of lessons.

Nowadays, you can also find some anomalies such as Muay Thai gloves with a lot of protection which don’t really have any of the traits we just described. Use this information to form your own educated opinion about whether you can use boxing gloves for Muay Thai for a long time. We warn against it.

While these are the main differences between all gloves and they can serve as a pretty good guide, we still advise you to do your research and try on more than one pair before deciding which one to buy.




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