Is Winning still the best boxing gloves you can get?
- Anybody asking that, just slap yourself right now.
C’mon guys, stop kidding around. Winning is still very much considered the BEST BOXING GLOVES in the entire fighting world. The Japanese brand has not only managed it’s brand respect over the years but more importantly, it’s quality control!
Not hype at all. Also not reliant on endorsements like other brands *cough* GRANT *cough*. Winning gloves are the de facto standard for pros all around the world, purely out of choice. No gimmicky marketing, or redesigns every year. They are simply incredible gloves! The gold standard and extremely popular with pros and serious amateurs.
Let’s find out why fighters love them so much!
Winning – Background & Reputation
I wish I could say more about this company’s history but I know nothing of it. What I can share however is my personal feeling of the brand, the way it was communicated to me and the way that the boxing community views them.
Look at most of today’s brands and what do you see? Annoying advertisements everywhere, email spam, internet ads, affiliate marketing, even home mailers. They’re everywhere. And they’re always on sale! (How is that a “sale” when you’re always on sale?)
Most boxing gloves out there insult our intelligence. They assume you don’t know the difference between a quality glove and a shit glove. They assume you’re naive enough to fall for fancy graphics over substance.
And they’re right! *shaking my head*
For every 1 pair of Winning gloves that are sold, there are probably 20 Title gloves, 10 Ringside, 10 Hayabusa, 5 Reyes, and 5 Venum gloves being put on fighters. Worst of all, many of those other brands all claim to be “THE BEST GLOVES EVER MADE!”
How freaken silly! It annoys me to no end. Can you imagine if every fighter went around claiming themselves as “THE BEST CHAMPION EVER”? That’s how most glove brands occur to me.
But then when you look ONLY at the pros and what do you see? Many of them, and in even some gyms almost all of them wear Winning. Heck even many of the serious amateurs wear Winning as well. The question is…how is it that they got to be that way?
Winning evokes the nostalgia of a time when PRIDE exceeded EGO…gloves of Japanese pride!
For those not aware of the difference:
- PPRIDE – is the feeling of accomplishment.
- EGO – is a sense of self-esteem or self-importance.
Whoever runs that brand does in the most respectful way possible. I LOVE THEIR BRAND for their no-nonsense way of marketing it. No spam, no begging, no promising, no gimmicks. For the longest time ever, they didn’t even have a website. It was a photograph of a printed Japanese ad with English over it (lol, like a dubbed-over poster) and posted online. That was it. There was some mail-order information and the whole thing looked like a scam ad for an overseas toy company.
Their marketing was so laughably bad and yet charming at the same time. They were the epitome of old school marketing. Not a single representative from their company could be found in promotional videos hyping up their product. They never sponsored or endorsed any fighters. Their company banners weren’t obnoxiously plastered all over fighting events.
It’s as if all their company ever cared about was about making quality gloves AND NOTHING ELSE! They didn’t care about marketing. They didn’t care about distribution, promotion, nothing. If they ran out of stock, too damn bad, you just gotta wait.
And if you’ve ever been to Japan (which I have), you’ll understand right away why they make the best gloves. The most high-tech, intelligent, humble, and hardworking people you’ve ever met. That whole country is PERFECT at everything they do. It’s in their culture.
So it’s no surprise to me at all that you never ever hear of BS problems with Winning. No torn threads or torn leather, none of that crap you get with other brands. This company makes gloves as if you were going to fight a 100-year war in outer space.
Oh and they make assumptions about you, too:
- They ASSUME you’re a serious fighter.
- They ASSUME you need the best glove possible.
- They ASSUME that you will train for a long time.
I can’t say enough. I love a company that respects its customers. Winning doesn’t make gloves for fighters. They make gloves for champions.
Winning was the pros & rich kid’s brand
There was no reason at all for a regular kid like me to have it. Sure, I was hardcore but not like going to tournaments every weekend. You could say I was a typical club fighter. Good enough to go rounds with everyone, skilled and durable, but not a career fighter.
And it wasn’t only the gloves that you had to get. Many fighters will get Winning’s legendary headgear as well. Super light and yet so damn protective. Some fighters will even get the headgear first. (Your brain is more important than your hands!) Anyway, it’s all on you and what you can afford.
I don’t get people saying they can’t afford $400 headgear or $400 gloves when I see them walking around in $300 Air Jordans and with a $600 iPhone in their hand.
Reasons why some pros don’t use Winning:
- high cost
- don’t need (or don’t like) their pillowy cushioning, and/or prefer other brands
- sponsored to use other brands
- prefer flashier or custom glove designs (although Winning does do custom gloves designs as well)
- not easily accessible (in their country or region)
Buying from Winning-USA (in Redondo Beach, California)
Yes, this story gets a whole section to itself because it’s part of the ‘Winning experience’ for me. The USA distributor (probably the only distributor outside of Japan) happens to be in Los Angeles just a few miles away from me in beautiful Redondo Beach, California. It’s run by a very erratic Kazumichi Hayashi and his wife Junko Hayashi.
Being in LA, I’ve heard about him for a long time and his strange ways (through friends and other fighters). He used to run a “showroom” out of his own house in Redondo Beach. You call him up and he screams at you a few times over the phone before giving you an appointment to come see him.
When you arrive at his house (or I think it was an apartment), he lets you in and shows you his closet full of Winning goodies. For a good 10-15 years he operated this way until his wife couldn’t take it anymore. She basically said STOP BRINGING PEOPLE TO THE HOUSE and GET AN OFFICE! He complained about having to pay for an office as well as running it but ultimately gave in after only a few more years—haha!
After seeing the recent decline of Sabas gloves, I was cautious to make sure my favorite gloves did not go the same way. I absolutely didn’t want to be wrong about recommending Winning to boxers all over the world. Yes, I bought a recent pair of $400 Winning gloves just for you guys!
If you don’t already know by now, DO NOT CALL KAZUMICHI! I repeat, DO NOT CALL HIM! (red text) He hates phone calls. He’s a really nice guy in person but will come off as an insane mental patient on the phone. He hates phones! (He probably hates all technology after 1990.)
He hates going to his office, hates getting phone calls. He hates people acting fake or tough around him. Anyway, I contacted him the ‘preferred way’ which is via email and made an appointment. He responds very quickly and precisely. Your email won’t get lost, I assure you.
Unlike other fightgear shops usually located on a main street, the Winning-USA office was located in a half-empty strip mall. I found the tiny office at last on the 2nd floor where it seemed to be the only one in business. It was a tiny office with one desk, a few chairs, one couch, and walls plastered with boxing pictures all over. AHHHHH—that authentic boxing vibe that I love—pictures and autographs all over the walls!
Inside, an old Japanese man working behind his desk yelled at me, “Are you Dave?!”. I clarified that I was Johnny but he seemed in disbelief shuffling through his papers with handwritten notes. After a couple more tries (more incorrect names), he finally gets my name correct and introduces himself as “Kazumichi”. Through the shut door behind him, you could hear people discussing boxing gear and sizes. I guess I was supposed to wait for my turn.
Alone in the office with him, he began his version of 20-questions while I checked out the photos on his walls. I’ll let you judge our “natural chemistry”:
- Kazumichi – YOU WRITE ABOUT BOXING ON THE INTERNET?!
- Me – yes, I do.
- Kazumichi – I HATE THOSE GUYS!
- Me – [silence].
- Kazumichi – THEY KEEP ASKING ME FOR FREE STUFFS!
- Me – yeah, they do that sometimes. [I’m really not sure what to say.]
- Kazumichi – I DON’T HAVE FREE STUFFS! WE NEVER ADVERTISE OR DO PROMOTION OR ANYTHING!
- Me – that’s good.
- Kazumichi – WE DON’T SPONSOR ANYBODY. NOT EVEN FOR CHAMPION! I DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE MIKE TYSON!
- …more silence..
- Kazumichi – WE ARE ALL EQUAL!
- Kazumichi – EVERYBODY THE SAME! DON’T CARE IF A ALI, A MIKE TYSON, SOME GUY ON THE STREET, OR YOU, OR ME! EVERYBODY THE SAME!
- …I just let him ramble while I stared at pictures…
- Kazumichi – MIKE TYSON MY FRIEND! WE EAT DINNER!
- Kazumichi – AND HE BUY ME GIFT!
- Kazumichi – COME HERE! I SHOW YOU!
He proceeds to show me secret drawings of custom gloves designed for Canelo. He also showed me a custom one for Amir Khan as well…and perhaps thinking I still didn’t believe him, he shows me a photograph of Amir Khan wearing his custom pair.
Ali, Tyson, De La Hoya. Hearns, Hagler. Then Barrera, Morales, Pacquiao, Mayweather. Then Triple-G, Canelo. Everybody was there. In many of the photos, Kazumichi and his wife were in there with the fighters as well. All the photos of all the greatest fighters of the past 50 years taken in their absolute prime. The photos were in such pristine quality, as if the prime fighters could jump out at any moment. From the sincere smiles and body position, you could tell these fighters knew him well and adored him. These weren’t fan-pictures, but “family shots”.
A hispanic guy suddenly burst through the front door carrying boxes through the shut door to the other room (the showroom, I presumed). I mistakenly thought this guy was his employee or delivery guy but it later turned out to be a local gym owner who came by often to buy gloves. Kazumichi stopped him to tell him about me (very loudly), “THIS GUY WRITES ON THE INTERNET! I HATE INTERNET PEOPLE!” It was funny because Kazumichi didn’t seem to hate me at all.
He told me his life story while the sales discussion/negotiation was still going on in the other room. Kazumichi was a former professional boxer, a lightweight. At the height of his career, he almost got to fight Roberto Duran but then lost the eliminator fight leading up to it and the opportunity dissolved. He claims he took a lot of punches. After his pro career he became a sport photographer for a popular boxing magazine in Japan. It got him special entry and ringside seats into the biggest boxing events for many decades. Because of his work, he lived in Los Angeles (close proximity to Vegas and many famous gyms on the west coast of USA).
Throughout his photography career, he was always close with the owner of Winning Boxing. From how he explained, I imagined the owner to be an old-school Japanese businessman. The company didn’t want to go global or to have distributors. They had no desire to be mainstream or make as much profit as possible. They simply wanted to create quality boxing gloves and have the business run by trusted people. The owner loved and trusted Kazumichi with all of his heart, and probably since he was living in the US (where many people ordered from), he begged him to become his USA-distributor. It would be the easiest way to deal with orders coming from the US.
Not surprisingly, Kazumichi declined about a hundred times. Made excuses to avoid every phone call and meeting with his close friend. He loved his photography job covering the biggest names in the sport at famous destinations around the world. To be tied to an office shipping and distributing goods didn’t seem like much fun for him.
In a bittersweet sequence of events, Kazumichi’s wife (Junko) had developed an illness forcing Kazumichi to rethink his constant traveling. Upon discovering they were both in the same city (I forgot where in the world), Winning’s owner called him and asked, “where are you?” and then intercepted Kazumichi right at the airport as he was flying out. This time, Kazumichi agreed accepting his new responsibility as the Winning-USA distributor. It seems the job never grew on him (or so he claims). He never liked being in the office and came only by appointment (no walk-ins). If he could, he would prefer to go to the office only one day a week if even that.
Still waiting for the showroom
We’re an hour into my visit by now and FINALLY the showroom door opens. Some came out with a bag of gloves and paperwork filled-in by Junko. Right as Kazumichi nearly finishes ringing up, 5 more people walked in. I had no idea who they were and neither did Kazumichi. He repeated his entire game again of insisting on guessing people’s names even when they had already told him. It seemed the 5 new people didn’t fully know each other as well; they simply walked in at the same time.
Sensing a room full of strangers, he yelled out loud to them, “THIS GUY HAS A WEBSITE! HE WRITES ON THE INTERNET!” while pointing at me. As they smiled politely, he yelled again, “I HATE INTERNET PEOPLE!” before running to grab a sheet of paper in the back. Out loud, he asked the buyer, “who are your favorite boxers?” Taken aback, the buyer stumbled across a few names and finally his transaction was complete. Kazumichi started his “everybody is equal” all over again to the new people. He yelled a new question at me this time, “ARE YOU GOING TO BUY?!” After I said ‘yes’, he answered, “YOU DON’T HAVE TO! ONLY IF YOU WANT!”
Sensing his stress, I told him it was alright if he took care of the others first. I didn’t mind waiting at all. At this point, the phone rang and I got to see his spite for them in person.
- I HATE PHONES!
- I NEVER LIKE PHONES!
- I DON’T LIKE OFFICE. I DON’T LIKE TO BE HERE!
He picks up the phone in front of everyone and yells, “HELLO! KAZUMICHI! WINNING-BOXING, USA! WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”
- DAVE? ARE YOU DAVE?
- YOU HAVE TO TALK LOUDER! I TAKE A TOO MANY PUNCHES TO THE HEAD!
By now, me and the hispanic guy (I feel awful for forgetting his name) had already chatted a bit and were just laughing at Kazumichi’s eccentric phone responses. “Dude, you should blog about that!” he joked. And well…here you are, reading the play-by-play.
The others in the room were just awkwardly staring at each other not knowing what else to say. Luckily, 2 of them were a quick transaction. The other 3 were together so they went into the showroom altogether with Junko. The phone rings a few more times and Kazumichi yells his usual pleasantries at them before FINALLY accompanying me into the showroom.
Finally entering the showroom
I tried on some headgear and also some gloves. He’s really nice; gives you all the time you need to try on the headgear, check yourself out in the mirror, and throw some punches and bobbing-and-weaving movements. If anything, I felt more pressure from the nice folks waiting outside than I did from Kazumichi himself.
- DO YOU LIKE IT?!
- DOES IT FIT?!
I told him I was still checking it out. And he responds much softer, “Ok. You know…you don’t have to buy it.” (Almost whispering to me, as if it was some kind of secret.)
Hahahah, worst salesman of the year. So terrible and charming at the same time. The headgear fit perfectly but I didn’t need it this time. I was here for gloves and then went straight to the task of picking out my 16oz blue Winning gloves. Why did I get blue? I feel it’s the color I most associate with Winning. The classic Winning blue color!
Afterwards, he very carefully wrote down all my information as 5-6 other people came into the office and waited their turn personally. And then it was my turn for the dreaded post-sale interview. He asked me which fighting sports I trained. If I was amateur or professional. Who my favorite boxers were. Hahaha….all this while a half dozen other people in the small room were waiting for their turn.
Winning Gloves Performance review
Up until recently, I had only experienced Winning gloves through other fighters. Borrowing or playing with a friend’s Winning gear but never really having a pair of my own to beat up on. The pair I’m reviewing now is already over a year old and tested throughout bagwork and sparring. I’m very proud to own these gloves and proud to review them as accurately as possible for you. They’re such a joy to handle and compare side-by-side with other gloves. I appreciate them more every day.
Quality & Craftsmanship
Leather – BEST QUALITY
Winning is probably the best leather for boxing gloves. The only other one that I think is even better is probably Di Nardo of Italy (those cost $1k/pair). But Winning definitely has the edge in the “mass-produced” world.
I hear people trying to compare other leather, like from Mexican boxing gloves, to Winning and they need to stop that crap. Winning is easily so much nicer and classier. When it arrives, it’s got a beautiful rich buttery texture and with leather conditioner on it to keep it soft and supple. I don’t know even one other manufacturer that does that. Why?…probably because their leather is junk stuff or lower grade, that’s why.
Don’t believe me? Just buy it for yourself and compare it to anybody else. You don’t need to be a leather expert to know the difference. You can see and feel it right away.
Look at the texture and wrinkles. That’s the biggest giveaway of quality that you can see from pictures. The leather is not so thin but yet folds easily. Other gloves have leather that’s either too thick and stiff, or thin and flimsy. I love the luxurious look and feel of Winning leather.
Winning stitching is perfect. Honestly, it’s just Japanese culture. They’re absolute perfectionists and their gloves are no different. Winning gloves are crafted perfectly with every attention to detail. The stitching is perfect everywhere, like it was done by machine. The ends are very cutely tucked in and finish. I don’t know how else to explain it but to say they are finished in a very “cute” manner.
We already know the legends about Winning’s unparalleled padding. So many brands have attempted to copy it over the past decades. Super soft cushion that protects your knuckles through its big pillowey padding. So protective in fact that some fighters even complain that it’s TOO SOFT and feels too much like you’re punching into pillows. (Some like more feedback, or more “thud”.) Either way, I love it for training. Feels great on the bag but exceptionally soft for sparring partners.
The padding is thick around your knuckles, back of the hand and then slims down toward your wrists. Still some padding on the back of the wrist and then relatively thin on the front of the wrist and palm area (as with most gloves).
This is one of the most underrated aspects of a boxing glove and something I’m sure you’ll appreciate so much about Winning. Winning very EASILY for me has the absolute best lining in the world. It’s perfect! Feels fantastic. So damn super smooth, you will love it!
Smooth lining makes it so much easier to put your gloves on and off. Rougher lining snags your hand wraps more, creating annoying friction that requires you to loosen up your glove laces more. When putting on the gloves, rough lining will pull your hand wraps out of place. When taking off the gloves, rough lining can trap your hand inside more easily. Life is so much easier with smooth lining. And of course, Winning’s lining is breathable and high quality, also prevents sweat from penetrating.
I also like that the lining is carefully stitched to the inside of the glove. Some gloves have smooth lining BUT the lining is not fasted well, it kinda floats around in the glove creating a feeling of an annoying slippery layer that won’t let you grip the padding. With Winning gloves, the lining is unnoticeable once you slide your hands in…you just feel the padding and the glove.
Performance and Durability
What else do you expect from the most copied padding on earth? It’s GREAT! Unrivaled super soft and plush protection. Feels like you’re punching clouds. My knuckles feel great. My wrists feel great.
Winning’s comfort is another one of those unrivaled qualities. But what IS it that makes it so comfortable? And in which ways is it comfortable?
- Ergonomic shape – a shape that truly fits your hand perfectly. Yes, it really fits like a glove. Feels broken in already. So plush and smooth.
- Anatomic thumb – Winning has the most comfortable thumb of all boxing gloves! Very distinct unique shape that you notice right from looking at it. I’ve taken a guess at the secret. It’s the superior craftsmanship and materials. The softer leather and softer padding allows them to build a smaller and more curved thumb which fits more like a “glove” around your thumb. Other boxing gloves use stiffer leather and stiffer padding which forces them to make a big thumb that feels like a splint (limiting mobility) rather than a glove (allowing mobility).
- Easy opening/closing the hand – soft padding/leather combined with great craftsmanship/shape makes it’s a really comfortable glove that lets you open and close your hand easily. You feel so much less hand fatigue using these gloves and they feel broken in right from the start. Other gloves make a fist easily but you can’t open the hand much, or vice versa.
- Smooth liner – feels great on your skin, also feels very cool in temperature. Great
- Secure/supportive – you feel more comfortable when you feel safe. And the gloves feel very secure/protective!
These are high quality gloves. Made to last. Made for professional use. No toy junk. No gimmicky marketing. It’s what pros all over the world use. They don’t need to convince you of anything. The gloves speak for themselves. Winning is one of the most trusted brands in boxing. Very unpretentious.
My personal thoughts on Winning
Should you buy them? (What kind of fighters should buy them…)
At the price of $300-400—YES, THEY ARE WORTH IT! But are they worth it for beginners? Are they worth it for people who can’t afford it?
I do secretly think that some people wear them only for the status and not because they even train on that level. First off, if you’re the kind of person who’s only hitting the bag twice a month and not training for competition…you probably don’t need Winning. You could do just fine with some dense bag gloves.
If you’re training seriously, plan to spar, or want another pair of great quality “soft” gloves that don’t cost as much, why not try one of the copycat brands?
- Read my comparison of Winning vs Ring2Cage C17’s & Sabas Supersoft – Winning boxing gloves VS the copycats
Where to buy Winning Gloves
LEATHER vs SYNTHETIC
You can choose to buy Winning gear in either real leather or synthetic option. I’ve been told that Winning uses Lorica (made in Italy), and known as the highest quality synthetic leather possible (an Italian told me this). It looks and feels very much like real leather and very hard to tell the difference.
BUY WINNING GLOVES IN PERSON (from USA distributor)
Go in person so you can get the same crazy experience I did. I’ll warn you ahead of time. Despite his best efforts, old man Kazumichi is disorganized as hell. He can’t remember anybody’s names or what time they’re supposed to come. It also doesn’t help that his English is poor and he reads off every name like it’s the first time he’s ever heard it.
You may think you’ve nailed down an appointment for “Wednesday, 12pm!” but that very quickly becomes a 2-hour wait when random characters jump in and out of his office as he scrambles to make sense of his handwritten notes.
BUY WINNING GLOVES FROM A LOCAL SELLER
While Winning only has one official US distributor (Mr. Kazumichi), there are many gym-owners or equipment dealers who buy from him in mass and then resell at gyms in their neighborhood.
If you aren’t able to get to Kazumichi, there might still be an unofficial “dealer” nearby you. Usually, it’s some random guy who visits all the local gyms once a month and sells gloves to all the pros there. Call up different boxing gyms and ask around. If there’s pros training in the gym, there’s probably somebody bringing Winning to them.
BUY WINNING GLOVES ONLINE
For those of us who can’t buy in person, you can also order them online. This is usually more expensive and may take longer. There are a few main places I recommend:
LACES (other colors available)
VELCRO (other colors available)
- Amazon (my affiliate links above) – I get a small commission if you buy from here.
- America-Ya on Rakuten – I’ve never bought from this seller (Steve but many people use it to get authentic Japanese boxing gear like Winning gloves, or Mizuno shoes. Customization also available. I think this is probably the best and most hassle-free option if you want custom.
- Koubudo on Rakuten – another person selling authentic Winning stuff. There’s a lot of debate back and forth on who’s cheaper (A-Y vs Koubudo), nicer, better person to buy authentic winning gear. I don’t know since I live nearby the USA distributor.
- Kozuji.com – another trusted online store. Their available stock can change from time to time.
- WJAPANBOXING.com – I’ve never seen them before but they look ehhh…seems like a US-based reseller.
BEWARE OF FAKE WINNING GLOVES!
Be careful buying from anywhere else! How to make sure yours is real? I think real Winning gloves always come in a plastic bag and leather conditioner on the gloves. The conditioner feels like a light grease. There’s usually a little paper tag accompanying the gloves as well.
It’s easy to tell if you’ve seen a pair of real Winning gloves in person before. The leather, inside liner, and overall craftsmanship are pretty hard to copy. There are also helpful videos like this to make sure you don’t get cheated…but then again, cheaters always find a way!