Top King’s “AIR” gloves are a true workhorse made for punishing the heavy bag, focus mitts, or heavy sparring while giving you the peace of mind that your hands and sparring partners are nice and protected. Due to the padding, these would be great for those practicing Muay Thai or western boxing alike. Fighters with previous hand issues should also check these out or anyone in general who wants a glove that will set them apart from the crowd while giving them the performance to match.
Is Top King a good brand?
Top King is one of the most widely known and recognized brands in Muay Thai and combat sports around the world. Based in Thailand, they’ve built their reputation based on their quality gloves and shin guards which have the perfect combination of flash and protection, giving them an individual and unique style. Below, we review the Top King Superstar “AIR” boxing gloves, which are an interesting mix between western boxing and Muay Thai. You can read more about the different types of boxing and the gloves that we use here.
Top King Superstar Air: Protection and Padding
Out of all of the gloves I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting on, these are the most comfortable I’d feel if I was forced to hit a brick wall every day. The padding on these could probably be put up there with the top boxing gloves in my opinion. This would make them not just good for Muay Thai, but also for traditional Western Boxing where only punches are thrown.
There were some days when I would end up late to train and rather than taking the time to put on my hand wraps (not recommended), I’d throw these bad boys on in a hurry, jump into class, and barely notice the difference. And after training, my hands would be just as in good shape as before I started. Not many gloves can say that.
Top King uses a multi-layered molded shock-absorbent inner foam padding which excellently protects your knuckles, fingers, and thumb from punishment while hitting the heavy bag or focuses mitts. While the protection is second to none, some may dislike this glove for a heavy bag or mit training as they are a bit “pillowy”, so you may not receive the feedback or snap/pop that you would with some of the other more streamlined gloves.
I feel these gloves shine as a sparring gloves due to their heavily padded knuckle, upper hand region, and wrist region for blocking kicks. After sparring against a training partner wearing the Top Kings, these would be in my top 3 list of gloves to be hit with.
The 16 oz variant offers more than enough protection and padding for both you and your partner to safely train regularly. I was shocked by the level of protection and padding even the 12 oz variant provides. The 12 oz feels more in line with the padding of a larger 14 oz glove, while still being lightweight.
Again though, with more protection comes a little of a tradeoff. The gloves, especially in the 16 oz size are a little on the wider side. It makes them great for those who love using high blocks/guards and whose defense may not be as sharp yet. Those looking to work on precise defense work may favor a more streamlined Muay Thai or western glove especially when it comes time to use smaller competition or MMA gloves.
I would say these gloves are a little wide to use for MMA-style sparring and tight clinch work. The wideness may also make it more of a challenge to break through the guards of opponents with tight guards. While I do not consider them “bulky” by any means and their lightweight size more than makes up for their width, the personal style of the fighter/buyer may dictate whether you like the previously discussed tradeoffs or not.
Are the Top King gloves comfortable?
The smaller hand compartment may be the area that is of most concern for potential buyers. These gloves at first are tight, really tight. It appears these gloves were made with the generally smaller Thai fighter’s hand in mind. Although I’m on the shorter and stocker side and had no problem at first with the tight fit which I in fact favor, for those with longer fingers and bigger hands it may take some time to break in.
One of my training partners who are on the taller side in the 6-foot range had no problem with his 16 oz variant of these same gloves fitting though. And other taller training partners who I have let use my gloves haven’t complained of any issues either. If you’re concerned about fit, you may want to consider going up a size depending on your needs, but there should be no issues after a proper break-in. After several weeks of training, they generally conform to the fit of your hand.
Part of what keeps this glove so cool is the thin mesh material used on the underside for the palm area. Advertised by Top King as its climacool technology to keep hands cool and dry, it does what it intends on those long, hot, or grueling training days. The mesh material also makes drying out these gloves a breeze and relatively quick.
The inner material also doesn’t rub against your skin very easily which keeps chaffing to a bare minimum. The one con to be aware of with this material though is that it does have the potential to scratch your training partner if you favor clinching a lot. Even though the mesh material is relatively soft, many favor a solid leather underbelly on the palm of their gloves for this reason.
This glove also features a one-piece connector of leather which keeps the thumb attached to the main part of the hand/fist compartment. It is both durable and allows for easy opening of the hand to clinch, pat, parry, and block punches while keeping the thumb in place. The wrist support on these gloves is in the medium range.
While they ensure your wrist and fist are locked into place, they are not as long as some other brands that extend further down your wrist and keep your wrist from moving. The upside is that there is plenty of padding around and on the Velcro strap to make blocking kicks easy and it is strong enough to where you shouldn’t see it falling apart anytime soon.
Quality and Durability
These gloves as you can notice from the interior tag, are made from genuine leather. 100% cowskin leather to be precise. Their durability certainly shows as well. As a heavy bag and focus mitt glove, these can take quite a beating. After using them for several months, I haven’t noticed any bottoming out of the glove.
I would say it takes at least a solid few weeks to break these gloves into where the padding is just right. While a very tiny section of the coloring on the knuckle area has scratched off, this is hardly noticeable and the gloves are just as good as when I purchased them.
I have yet to encounter any fraying, tears in stitching, rips, or graphics coming off. If you need a multiple-purpose glove for the heavy bag, focus mitts, or sparring, these would certainly fit the bill and should be on your list.
Alternatives to Top King Superstar Air
If you don’t love these, check some other options we have which are comparable to the Top King Superstar Air gloves
Top King Gloves: Pros and Cons
- Very well padded for hand protection (great for those with hand issues)
- Great for sparring and offers plenty of protection for punches
- Wide gloves favoring those who use high guards/blocks often
- Durable and 100% leather
- Stays cool and dries quickly
- Glove design is stylish and unique
- Padding on the back of the hand and wrist make blocking kicks a breeze
- A more “pillowy” glove, so you may not receive the feedback or snap/pop that you are looking for
- Velcro wrist support could be longer for more wrist protection
- Gloves are relatively wide, those who want to easily break through their opponents’ guards or fine-tune their defense may want a more streamlined glove
- Mesh palm could scratch training partner during clinching
- Wrist support is not as long as some brands
1. Amazon.com. Customer Reviews: TOP King Gloves. W. Handloser “Bored Hominid” [link]
“1. They do go halfway up your forearm. If you’re used to this, it’s fine. If you’re not, you get used to it fast and then forget they’re there…”
2. Sherdog Forum. Top King Air Velcro Gloves Review w/ Photos. ECS123
“Q: Will the mesh palm improve ventilation or is it just a gimmick that will wear out faster?
A. IMHO, the answer is “yes” and “no”. “Yes”, I think it will improve ventilation, and “no”, I do not believe it is a gimmick that will wear out faster…”
3. Sherdog Forum. Top King Air Training Gloves Review. Katriona1992
“Update 27-7-2012 150 hours in. The lining in the hand compartment has started to bunch up but can be pushed to the side so that it isn’t a major problem. Overall, still holding up well.”
4. Bullshido Forum. Top King Air sparring gloves. Neo Sigma [link]
“…after using these for a year, or so, they’re still holding up nicely, but I’ve noticed some bad habits I’ve developed due to the size of these things…”
5. YouTube. Top King Super Star AIR 16 Oz Boxing Glove Review. 00SoldierofFortune00 [link]
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