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Muay Thai Gear Guide: Boxing Gloves vs. Muay Thai Gloves

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Boxing Gloves and Muay Thai gloves are not the same, though are often are used interchangeably. Typically, if you only box you should opt for a boxing style glove. For Muay Thai, you can use either a Muay Thai style glove or a Boxing style glove.

What Are The Differences Between Boxing Gloves and Muay Thai Gloves

The main difference between Boxing Gloves and Muay Thai gloves are specifically in the flexibility of the glove when you clench your fist, the position of the thumbs in Muay Thai gloves, the padding around the wrist area, how far the glove rides up past your wrist on your arm,  and the weight distribution of the padding areas (top heavy like Muay Thai gloves or more spread out like Boxing gloves)

Muay Thai Gloves

Muay Thai gloves are more flexible when you clench your fist and generally less rigid than boxing gloves, allowing you to grip and grab better with your gloves. The thumb (sometimes) may be in a slightly different position to allow for a better ‘grip’ when you squeeze the gloves.  This is to allow for clinch work during Muay Thai fights.

Top Pick at a Glance

For those of you who are looking to purchase a high quality pair of Muay Thai gloves I would recommend Twins Special Velcro Gloves, a good all round bang-for-buck glove. They are not ‘the best’ but they are far from the worst. You’ll find these used by the top Thai fighters in training to brand new beginners.

Twins Muay Thai Gloves (See Reviews on Amazon)

Twins glovesIn terms of overall value for your money, you can’t go wrong with buying a new pair of Twins Muay Thai gloves. Since I have owned dozens of different pairs of gloves over the years, Twins is always one of my favorite options to use.

Twins is the leading Muay Thai brand in Thailand and occupy a huge percent of the local market. One of the reasons why Twins is more popular than Fairtex (my other favorite brand) is because they are slightly cheaper and offer the same quality standards.

These gloves are hand made in Thailand with 100% cow leather and are built to last. If you take care of the gloves you should be able to get a few years of use out of them.

My Verdict:

Buy it.

One of the reasons I recommend Twins is because you can get a brand new pair for around $60-65 after shipping on Amazon (USA). That is a steal when you compare it to the other low quality products that sell for around the same price.

Click Here to See the Lowest Prices on Amazon

On the design front, Muay Thai gloves often have the thumb area directly molded into the actual glove frame rather than stitched on separately. You’ll often find the shape of (most) Muay Thai gloves a bit more square and top heavy in the front area than boxing gloves, with less of an ‘angular’ tapering from fist to wrist. There is a different in the weight distribution.

Muay Thai gloves are NOT as aerodynamic for quick rapid punching combos like Boxing Gloves because of the weight distribution — this may change depending on the brand, but it’s my experience there is quite a bit of a difference in the way Muay Thai style gloves perform when punching compared to Boxing gloves.

Another point that needs to be made here is that Muay Thai gloves, especially the Thai-brands, tend to be very good value for dollar. In fact, I would rate the Thai-brand Muay Thai gloves (TWINS, Top King, Fairtex, Boon, Raja, etc) as some of the best budget boxing gloves you can buy. For $60-$70 you get a handcrafted, made in Thailand, genuine leather glove. If you look at the boxing glove brands, you can’t get a similar glove quality at that price. To get real leather, handcrafted boxing gloves, you’ll need to look at one of the premium brands like Cleto Reyes which start at $170! So with Thai gloves, you are getting the quality and make of a $150+ glove for $60 dollars.

Boxing Gloves

Boxing gloves, on the other hand, don’t have as much flexibility and tend to be a bit more rigid than Muay Thai Gloves when you put them on. The thumb position may or may not be different than pure Muay Thai style gloves, depending on the vendor, with the thumb area stitched on separately rather than directly part of the glove mold.

Top Pure Boxing Glove Pick

If you are looking for a cheap but quality glove to use for pure boxing, the Title Classic Hook and Loop is an excellent entry level choice for those who don’t want to commit too much money into buying a first glove.

Title Classic Boxing Glove (See Reviews on Amazon)

Title boxing gloveWhile there is a range of top quality pure boxing gloves you can choose from, in my opinion Title offers you the best bang for your buck. Instead of spending $200+ on a pair of boxing gloves, you can get a good pair of Title gloves for $50.

Besides offering a good value, Title gloves also feel really good. They have been one of the leading boxing brands for many decades now and for good reason. They produce an excellent product that is designed specifically for boxing.

When you compare the shape of the Title Classic glove to other Muay Thai gloves, you will notice a big difference in how the glove is shaped. These gloves are designed to be used purely for punching and nothing else.

My Verdict:

Buy It……If you want a pure boxing glove

If you are in the marketing to find a pure boxing glove, the Title classic is a great option. However, if you are looking for a more versatile glove to use in your Muay Thai training, I would stick to Twins or Fairtex for that.

Click HERE to see the Lowest Prices on Amazon

Boxing gloves usually tend to be slightly more angular, with the fist area a bit more pronounced then often sharply tapering off into the wrist area where as Muay Thai gloves are more square with the front area more boxy and the back of the wrist area thick. As stated, I find a very big difference in punching performance wearing pure boxing gloves when hitting the bags, pads, and sparring than when using Muay Thai gloves.

Click here to read our comprehensive Buyers Guide to Muay Thai gloves and what you need to know before buying a pair (what size, what style, what brand, etc. Also check our our Ultimate Guide to the Best Muay Thai Gloves article for our comprehensive list of actual model/brand picks. It’s a summary of everything we know about the glove brands learned from living and training in Thailand for over four years and using dozens of different gloves and brands.

Which Gloves Should You Use, Muay Thai or Boxing, for Muay Thai Training?

The right answer is that there really no right answer here; your glove of choice depends on what you are doing in your training, whether you fight, and your personal preferences. Each brand tweaks the feel, weight, the padding, the weight distribution, the size, and the aesthetics. So you’ll really have to try a few different brands before you settle on your ideal glove. If you train Muay Thai, you’ll probably end up sticking with Muay Thai gloves because these will be more easily available to you (in Thailand, for example, you can’t really buy the pure boxing glove brands like Everlast, Grants, Cleto Reyes, TITLE and Rival).

If you are just casually training Muay Thai, it doesn’t matter.

If you are just training with no intention of fighting or you are a weekend warrior type, it’s really just a personal preference here. Since you likely won’t be clinching in your sparring or using gloves during clinching and you won’t be fighting, you can get away just fine with boxing gloves or Muay Thai gloves.

If you are a very ‘hand heavy’ sort of fighter, use a PURE boxing glove brand

I find boxing gloves tend to allocate the weight distribution for punching a better than the Muay Thai gloves designs. I personally prefer sparring (for boxing sparring anyways) in boxing style gloves over Muay Thai gloves — the shape and weight distribution of boxing gloves I find better for more subtle punches while Muay Thai gloves are suitable for the 1-2 style power shots you find thrown in pure Muay Thai fights. It comes down to preference, but if you like to throw a lot of fast hand combos or / and are very hand heavy when you spar / fight or you want to work on a lot more boxing when hitting pads / heavy bag, get a good pair of pure boxing gloves. Something like Rival or TITLE is you want an decent entry level glove or if you can swing the cost, Grant or Cleyto. Winning is the best pure boxing gloves, but they cost nearly 400 usd.

If you compete in Muay Thai,  use Muay Thai gloves. It’s a good idea to simulate your fights as closely as possible, which also means using the same type of gear. However, if you do use a Muay Thai pair of gloves, you should try and incorporate clinching in your sparring sessions AND occasionally wear your gloves during clinch work. During a fight, it’s quite a bit different in the clinch when you have your gloves on, compared to doing clinch work with your bare hands — you have substantially less grip options and it’s easier to block/grab your opponent’s hands when both of you are wearing gloves. If you want to work traditional Muay Thai and you do a lot of Muay Thai sparring, use Muay That style gloves.

Hint: For best results: BUY BOTH types of gloves. There’s no rule why you can’t have a good pair of boxing gloves and a good pair of Muay Thai gloves. You can rotate them around. This is really what I recommend and it’s not that expensive to buy a couple pairs of gloves (unless you are buying  the top end models/brands)

Which Muay Thai Gloves Should You Buy?

If you are set on Muay Thai gloves, and want to know what to pick then start with the cheaper Twins (a good first choice) or Top King. Then branch out to some of the other major brands like Fairtex, Yokkao, Boon, etc. We’ve given you a massive, 10,000 word article that lists what we feel are the best pure Muay Thai glove brands here.

Another Excellent Choice

For those of you who are looking for a more premium Muay Thai glove than Twins, Fairtex is another one of my favorite brands that offer an excellent product — a better quality glove over TWINS though at the cost of a bit more money.

Fairtex Muay Thai Gloves (Click to See Reviews on Amazon)

fairtex gloves trainingIf you want the best bang for your buck you go with Twins, but if you don’t mind spending a little bit more money you can get a pair of premium Fairtex gloves.

Fairtex is considered by most people to be the premium brand when it comes to Muay Thai. They have been around for decades and have slowly built up their brand to be one of the largest in the world. Fairtex owns gyms and sponsors big fighters like Yodsanklai.

The look and feel of Fairtex gloves are premium. I have owned many Fairtex gloves over the years and I have never been disappointed. In my opinion the choice between Twins and Fairtex comes down to which brand offers a style that you like the most.

My Verdict:

Buy It.

I own a few pairs of Fairtex gloves and I love using them. I usually go with 10-12 oz gloves when I am hitting pads, working on the heavy bag or doing light technical sparring. When the sparring gets more serious I switch to the 16oz gloves to ensure I don’t knockout my sparring partner.

Click HERE to See the Lowest Prices on Amazon

Popular Brands

Twins and Top King seem to be the most popular gloves with Nak Muay, both in and out of Thailand. This probably has a lot to do with the fact they are ubiquitous  and for sale in every gym and store (especially in Thailand). Those brands are also the cheapest in terms of price, which makes them a popular choice. I personally don’t like the feel of Top Kings — they are far too ‘puffy’ around the back and front. But, some people love them! Fairtex are also popular in Thailand, but much more popular in the US than Twins and Top King, I feel.

The Less Well Known / Popular Muay Thai Brands

The other, less popular brands (Raja, Yokkao, Boon), tend to stand out in other ways, offering more fancier aesthetics, difference types of leather (lamb skin say), tighter fits,  higher quality construction, and other ‘extra’ features. They also tend to be more expensive too. Some brands like ‘Fighter’ and ‘Muay Thai’ are new thai brands that just came out the past couple years.

Personally, now that I’ve used most of the Muay Thai brands. I personally prefer the basic TWINS model for general work for the functionality, feel, and size, and Fairtex for the pure comfort, padding, and quality.

TWINS is like your basic Toyota while Fairtex is your Mercedes. Between the two, buy Fairtex.

But, each glove brand feels and performs differently, so you’ll likely have to test out a few different brands before you find your favorites.

MMA Brands

What about the other new brands like Venum, Hayabusa, Rival?

These are new companies that produce boxing gloves or boxing gloves for MMA use — not really the pure traditional Muay Thai style gloves (well Venum is made in Thailand, sort of and markets itself to the Muay Thai crowd in the US).

The boxing gloves they produce are popular with the MMA crowd. I personally prefer the established western boxing brands like Grant / Cleto / Winning / TITLE and maybe RIVAL over the  gloves by the like Venum and Hayabusa for pure boxing gloves.

But for Muay Thai, you can still use these gloves without issue. If you read my Ultimate Guide to Boxing Gloves and my Ultimate Guide to Muay Thai Gloves, you’ll see I do recommend Hayabusa and Venum as well so these gloves are still pretty good, especially for certain people. And for the MMA crowd, they are wildly popular. Less so with the pure boxers and pure Muay Thai crowd. If you want PURE MMA gloves, which are different than boxing gloves, then you’ll want to look at MMA gloves not boxing gloves (see our best MMA gloves list).

For Muay Thai, I recommend you stick to the THAI STYLE brands if you can though. You can see my exact brand picks in my Ultimate Guide to the Best Muay Thai gloves and my reasoning for why I pick the gloves I do in that list.

For MMA & Kickboxing, Hayabusa or Rival are good picks (though you can use any pure boxing brand or pure muay thai brand — it’s up to you). For budget, Venum is usually cheaper quality but do offer some pretty good pricing for entry level gloves you can use for Muay Thai. The other brands not mentioned, don’t bother with — they are likely shit.

What to Start With as Your First Glove?

I recommend starting with TWINS, then trying TOP KING, and finally give Fairtex a go (after Fairtex, you probably won’t switch back to anything else). The other brands have their perks in looks, design, and features, but I don’t feel they offer anything over the others outside of aesthetics.

Note, please read our highly detailed article ‘How to Choose the Best Pair of Boxing Gloves‘ which will completely walk you through what to look for when choosing your boxing gloves. Trust me, you’ll want to read it.

The Other Muay Thai Glove Brands

Yokkao have snazzy flashy designs, but the quality is average and they are way overpriced.

Raja feels very comfortable, but the factory in Thailand doesn’t produce them or has nearly stopped production. They are one of my favorite gloves though. See my RAJA boxing gloves review.

Windy are so so, but not that impressive — I don’t recommend.

Boon are decent and popular with Australians.

Fight Lab — a Phuket-based company — are semi-popular around the local gyms because they are produced and sold locally.

Fighter — a new upcoming brand. Mostly the same as Top King, but the Thai trainers have told me they don’t like the brand due to the lack of padding.

If you want to see our picks for the best pure (western) boxing gloves, you absolutely should read our The Ultimate Guide to the Best Boxing Gloves post which gives you our Top 12 picks for the best Boxing Gloves and category specialty picks. This list of perfect for people looking for pure boxing gloves, muay thai gloves, MMA boxing gloves, or gloves for K1 style kickboxing.

If you want to see our picks for the Best ‘Pure’ Muay Thai Gloves, then read our 10,000 word Ultimate Guide to the Best Muay Thai Gloves. This list is for people who are looking for Muay Thai gloves rather than general boxing gloves or western boxing gloves. We give you best category picks for Muay Thai sparring gloves, training gloves, budget gloves and more. We also give a list of the Top 10 Best Muay Thai Gloves.

Visual Look at The Major Boxing and Muay Thai Brands

Here’s a visual look at the major boxing and muay thai glove brands. Note that when you compare them, the boxing gloves have a slightly different design/form than muay thai gloves.

Popular Boxing Glove Brands

The major brands of boxing gloves (and gloves that boxing pros actually fight and/or train in):

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Popular Muay Thai Brands

There are quite a few major Muay Thai Glove brands. The most popular by far (both within and outside of Thailand) are Twins, Fairtex, and Top King.

  • Twins
  • Top King
  • Fairtex
  • Windy
  • Yokkao
  • Windy
  • Raja
  • Boon

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boon muay thai gloves

Final Word

Keep in mind that everyone has their own personal preference for what glove brand and style they like best. Some people prefer more padded gloves that are puffy and thick (Windy and Top King fit this criteria). Some people like shorter, smaller gloves with a lot of padding (Fairtex), and some people want a middle ground glove (Yokkao, Twins fit this) in terms of glove size.

Every glove model from each of the major brands feels different on your hand and offers different feedback, so if you buy a pair and don’t like how it feels, try a different brand of glove. It may take some trial and error but you should eventually find a glove that best suits you. We recommend you start out with the basic TWINS model glove as your first glove and go from there. Check out our Ultimate Glove guides for specific picks.

Keep in mind that you’ll want a good pair of Muay Thai hand wraps to go with your gloves. A shitty pair of hand wraps mean you can’t wrap them as tight around your hands (meaning less wrist support) and they may cause additional abrasion on your knuckles (meaning your can get raw knuckles which bleed). Finding the right hand wrap is very important, therefore. Look at our Ultimate Guide to the Best Handwraps for some recommendations and things to look for in a hand wrap.

Read more of our Ultimate Guides Below:



About Author

Ben has been living, training, and fighting in Thailand for the past 3 years. He has fought in a number of different combat arts such as MMA, BJJ, Muay Thai, and Western Boxing. Ben follows the latest fitness and nutrition research and is especially interested in how it can apply to combat sports to improve a fighter's performance in the ring. You can read Ben's full bio page here.

6 Comments

  1. mikeferrisprints@gmail.com'

    Thanks for the reviews and suggestions! I found this very helpful, and I should be having my Twins muay thai gloves coming in the mail today. I’m really excited to give them a go! Thanks again.

    Mike

  2. saberdin@mac.com'

    Thanks for the overview! One question – I’ve read that you can fully open you hand when wearing a Winning pair of gloves because they’re so high quality, in which case it sounds like they’d work particularly well for Muay Thai since you can clinch with them. What would be your opinion of using them for Muay Thai? I have a pretty balanced style and I like going into the clinch, so I’m wondering if such a high quality pair of boxing gloves could function as a Muay Thai glove without losing the gripping abilities of the Thai style.
    Thank you!

  3. Hey — I’ve used Winning for Muay Thai, I have some friends (one of the thai trainers even had a pair of winnings given to him as a gift from a student) who used to use winnings for muay thai pad work, bagwork, and sparring.

    You certainly can use Winning gloves. In fact, I have a pair of Winnings being sent to me right now, so I can personally tell you from experience you can use them just fine.

    The only issue is that if you are in a place that’s humid, like Thailand, your 300 dollar pair of winning gloves won’t last you the 5 or 6 years back in a colder country, but likely a year or two at the most in Thailand.

    You can probably use (some) boxing gloves for Muay Thai clinching, and even fighting, but you’ll have to test out the brands specifically to see. I don’t want to tell you Winning will work for clinching when I’ve only used them for bagwork and pads and not clinching.

    The risk with boxing gloves is you might end up with a glove that won’t let you grab or use your thumb grip for clinching. Because of this, I would be reluctant to use a non-Thai style boxing glove for clinching or fighting. I have not clinched with winning gloves on, so I can’t tell you either way if they will work. But give it a shot and let me know.

    Winning are the bee’s knees when it comes to gloves. I’d use them ANYWAYS for muay thai just because they are so damn awesome. I can test this out for you in a few months when I get my pair though and see how they do for Muay Thai clinching.

    Note though that muay thai gloves have more padding around the wrist areas. This helps when catching kicks and getting kicked on the lower part of your wrist. Boxing gloves don’t have that much padding there — this means Muay Thai gloves do offer you more protection in a Muay Thai fight against kicks to the wrist area than boxing gloves.

    hope that helps!

    Ben

    • Yokkao’s look good but the quality is suspect. Typically my recommendation is that unless you are dead set with the aesthetics of the Yokkao look, I point you to Fairtex as the best quality of the Muay Thai gloves or if you want to save a few bucks, the standard basic Twins model. Top King is an alternative to Twins though the feel of them on your hand is quite a bit different (they are more ‘puffy’).

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