When you’re new to martial arts, discerning the differences between equipment is an uphill battle. Even hand-to-hand combat sports like boxing or kickboxing have slight differences in their gear. The differences between boxing gloves and kickboxing gloves, for example, are minimal but often very important. 

The differences between boxing and kickboxing gloves are primarily weight and flexibility. Boxing gloves have more cushioning around the fist of the glove. However, kickboxing gloves have a thinner layer of cushioning, making them more flexible. 

Now that you have a basic understanding of the differences, we can dive into deeper questions. Below, I’ll explore the differences between the gloves and help you understand how to utilize each one. 

Key Differences Between Kickboxing Gloves and Boxing Gloves

There are a handful of differences between kickboxing and boxing gloves you should be aware of. Knowing the differences could influence you to make the correct purchase decision.

Differences in Flexibility

  • Boxing Gloves. Boxing gloves offer less flexibility than kickboxing gloves. There is rarely a reason to unclench your fist in boxing. A lack of need for an unclenched fist means boxing gloves should stay in a fist position.
  • Kickboxing Gloves. Kickboxing gloves are naturally in a looser fist shape than boxing gloves. They also have more flexibility, so you can perform clinches more effectively.

Differences in Thumb Flexibility

  • Boxing Gloves. Your thumb is pretty locked in place in boxing gloves. The thumb piece of boxing gloves stays in the first position, with little flexibility. The locked-in positioning allows fighters to not focus on how they’re constructing their fist.
  • Kickboxing Gloves. Kickboxing gloves offer more thumb flexibility. The added thumb flexibility makes grappling easier with kickboxing gloves.

Level of Cushioning

  • Boxing Gloves. The cushioning is more concentrated on boxing gloves. Cushioning tends to be concentrated at the knuckles on boxing gloves. The knuckle cushioning serves as additional hand protection for throwing punches.
  • Kickboxing Gloves. Even distribution of cushioning across kickboxing gloves is a defining feature. Even padding distribution allows fighters to use their whole hand to protect against kicks.

Size and Shape

  • Boxing Gloves. Boxing gloves are more rounded and fist-shaped around the knuckles. Additionally, boxing gloves tend to have stronger cuff supports. The shape of boxing gloves serves to throw punches in rapid succession.
  • Kickboxing Gloves. Since kickboxing gloves are not for throwing rapid punches, kickboxing gloves are not as fist-shaped. You may notice kickboxing gloves are less rounded and don’t have mesh at the palm.

Why Are Boxing Gloves and Kickboxing Gloves Different?

Boxing gloves and kickboxing gloves are different because their respective sports have different fighting styles. Boxing involves purely throwing punches. Kickboxers, however, use their feet and need their hands free for more strategic blocking. 

Kickboxers also attack their opponents’ legs. The greater flexibility in kickboxing gloves allows each opponent to utilize their hands more effectively for striking and blocking. Boxers use only their hands for upper body attacks. 

Can I Use Boxing Gloves for Other Combat Sports?

You can use boxing gloves for other combat sports, but doing so may not be ideal. Any competition would require you to wear the appropriate gear. You’ll lose hand flexibility necessary for certain sports, but boxing gloves are perhaps usable for sports with little grappling. 

The flexibility of using boxing gloves outside boxing is especially true for training. For example, most Muay Thai gyms will practice grappling without gloves.

When it comes to sparring, you’ll still make out alright using boxing gloves. However, if you progress to any level of competition, it’s best to invest in the proper gloves for your sport.

Can I Use Kicking Gloves for Boxing?

You can use kickboxing gloves for boxing, though not in a professional setting. However, you can often get away with using kickboxing gloves for sparring and training in regular boxing. 

Kickboxing gloves perform best in just Muay Thai and kickboxing. They don’t have the level of padding needed for boxing, but you could sometimes get away with them for some training and sparring. 

There Are Four Types of Boxing Gloves

I know you know there are different gloves for different combat sports. But did you know there are different types of boxing gloves? The four different types of boxing gloves include:

  • Training gloves
  • Sparring gloves
  • Amateur competition gloves
  • Professional gloves

I’ll explain the differences between these gloves down below. 

Training Gloves

Training gloves are the jack of all trades amongst boxing gloves. Boxers use them for pretty much any kind of training, excluding sparring.

People sometimes refer to training gloves as bag gloves. They get the name bag gloves because training gloves are popular for heavy bag workouts.

Since training gloves are a jack of all trades, they’re also often advertised simply as boxing gloves. 

If you’re just getting into boxing, training gloves are the first set of gloves you should purchase. These are the gloves you’ll be using 90% of the time through your boxing career.

Sparring Gloves 

You may be wondering why boxers don’t just use competition gloves for sparring. The reason is that sparring gloves’ purpose is to protect your hands and protect your opponent.

Sparring gloves have softer, more evenly distributed cushioning. The purpose of the change in cushioning style is to alleviate the pressure of your punches on your opponent.

Generally, you’ll want to keep your sparring gloves at 14oz (397g) or higher. However, your coach will always have the final say on the acceptable size of gloves for sparring.

Amateur Competition Gloves

The differentiator for amateur competition gloves is typically the color. Usually, the boxing competition will supply two pairs of gloves per fight.

The competition will distribute a pair of red gloves, as well as a pair of blue gloves. The two different colored pairs of gloves make the fight easier to score.

Professional Gloves

The peak of boxing competitors is the only ones who use pro gloves. The design of pro gloves is the exact opposite of sparring gloves.

Pro gloves are small and have firmer padding. The firmness and agility afforded by smaller gloves pack a harsher punch on your opponent.

Boxers use smaller sizes for pro gloves, typically 8oz (227g) or 10oz (283g) gloves. Compared to 14oz (397g) gloves being the minimum size of sparring gloves, you can see the difference in intentions.

You should never use pro gloves for training. Coaches typically restrict pro gloves from amateur fighting and reserve them for professional rings.

What’s the Best Glove for Both Kickboxing and Boxing?

The best gloves for both kickboxing and boxing are kickboxing gloves. Kickboxing gloves can shield your hands from punching for boxing. Additionally, they offer added protection for blocking kicks and more capability for grappling.

If you enjoy both sports, you should still consider getting both gloves. If you’re going to partake in a competition, you don’t want to feel restrained because of your glove choice.

Competition is about getting that 1% advantage over your opponent. If you don’t have the correct gloves for the situation, you’re giving up your 1% advantage.

Therefore, if you’re just in combat sports for fun, get yourself some kickboxing gloves and never look back. However, if you’re competing, get the gloves made for your sport, even if that means more than one pair of gloves.

What Is A Good Pair of Boxing Gloves?

A good pair of boxing gloves are the Ringside IMF Tech 8482 Boxing Gloves (available on Amazon), which offer fantastic wrist support. Additionally, you have some size flexibility since the Ringside IMF Tech 8482 Boxing Gloves come in 8oz (227g), 10oz (283g), and 12oz (340g).

What Is A Good Pair of Kickboxing Gloves?

A good pair of kickboxing gloves are the Fairtex BGV1-BR Breathable Gloves (available on Amazon) because they nicely balance a snug fit with an ergonomic feel. Since flexibility is important in kickboxing, an ergonomic feel is a must-have.

The gloves mentioned above can be used for sparring in boxing as well. 

What Size Gloves Should I Purchase for Boxing?

You should purchase 12oz (340g) and 14oz (397g) gloves for boxing, which are popular training sizes for new boxers. If you’re feeling overwhelmed picking the right size gloves, always consult a professional. Boxing coaches are your best resource for finding your perfect glove size.

What Size Gloves Should I Purchase for Kickboxing?

You should purchase 8oz (227g), 10oz (283g), or 12oz (340g) gloves for kickboxing. These all are popular sizes, but beginners tend to start at a higher weight, like 12oz (340g), and slowly decrease. Consult your kickboxing coach for the best information on glove sizes.

What Are MMA Gloves?

MMA gloves are gloves with more flexibility and less padding than boxing and kickboxing gloves. Typically, fighters don’t use MMA gloves for striking-heavy sports like boxing and kickboxing because of the lack of padding.

While MMA gloves aren’t great for kickboxing or boxing, they may be interesting for certain drills. If you want to learn more about MMA gloves, check out LiveStrong’s Comparison of Boxing Gloves & MMA type Gloves.

Final Thoughts

The easiest way to remember the differences between boxing and kickboxing gloves is the cushioning and flexibility. Boxing gloves offer more targeted hand protection at the cost of flexibility.

On the other hand, kickboxing gloves have evenly distributed padding and more flexibility.

If you’re only going to participate in either kickboxing or boxing, the best glove is the one made for your sport. However, unless you compete, both gloves are acceptable for use in either sport.

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