There are literally 1000s of different pairs of boxing gloves available out there. There appear to be very few limitations in terms of the shape, style, weight, size and colour and in fact the options are so many and varied that many people become utterly confused when it comes to making the right purchase for their needs.
In this article I am going clear the whole thing up by giving you 6 very simple things to know before you buy boxing gloves. After reading this article you will be able to go and buy the pair of boxing gloves that will best meet your needs at a price that is right. I will also provide some examples of the types of boxing gloves that I would be happy to buy when equipping the boxers that I work with or indeed for my own training needs.
Boxing Gloves - A (Very) Brief History
When I say there is a massive range of boxing gloves available, I really mean it. In the ancient civilisation of the Greeks, when the first activities that could be broadly described as 'boxing matches' took place, the combatants sported ergonomically carved rocks bound to the hands using leather straps and ropes. I've not been able to track down any hard facts and figures regarding the safety record of the sport at that time, but I really can't imagine that it was a pastime that was associated with a long and healthy life.
The technology of boxing gloves has moved on significantly since the times of the ancient Greeks, and indeed continues to develop. Boxing gloves as we would recognise them were first laced up in the late 1800s, up to that point bare-knuckle boxing was the norm.
Boxing gloves offer protection to both the hands of the assailant but more importantly to the head and body of the assailed. Back in the 1800s, and indeed up until 1950s, boxing gloves were very light and thinly padded, with the average weight barely registering 4oz. The design of modern boxing gloves has been heavily influenced by safety and are therefore quite different from their Victorian predecessors.
6 Things To Know Before Buying
So, what types of gloves are available now and for what are they used? Well, it's a bit more involved than simply hitting each other in the head! To answer this very straightforward question I am going to provide you with 6 very simple statements.
What I want you to do is read the 6 statements. Having read and understood the 6 statements you can then continue to read on through the article where you will find further information about the various types of boxing gloves and some examples of those available in the marketplace.
OK, the 6 simple statements that will help you understand the world of boxing gloves are:
Boxing gloves are used for exchanging punches with a fellow boxer either during sparring or during a boxing match.
Boxing gloves are used when working with punching equipment such as the heavy punch bag or punch pads.
All of those gloves available on the market can be used on punching equipment. There are boxing gloves that are traditionally used on punching equipment, and these are referred to as boxing bag gloves or bag mitts, but you need to understand that all boxing gloves available can be used on punching equipment.
Only a certain type of boxing gloves may be used during sparring. These boxing gloves are known as sparring boxing gloves.
Only certain types of boxing gloves may be used during an amateur boxing match. These boxing gloves are known as amateur boxing gloves.
Only certain types of boxing gloves may be used during a professional boxing match. These boxing gloves are known as pro boxing gloves.
So, having established our 6 statements let's now plunge into some more detail regarding the types of boxing gloves that we have identified.
Bag Gloves/Bag Mitts
Boxing bag gloves tend to go up to 10oz to 12oz in weight and are available in a range of colours to suit any taste. Bag glove options have moved on significantly over the years from the traditional style bag glove that has no wristband and very compact, thin padding. Also available now are a range of hybrid boxing gloves that take design elements from the competition boxing glove range and combine these with the characteristics of the traditional boxing bag mitt.
A common characteristic across the range of boxing bag gloves is that there is a reduced level of padding in the knuckle area. The reduced level of padding really allows the boxer to ‘feel’ the impact of the shots, very important for self-confidence purposes. However, boxing bag gloves are entirely unsuitable for use during any kind of contact activity, namely sparring, so don't go hitting anyone in the head whilst wearing these gloves. The potential for serious injury is very greatly increased.
When choosing bag gloves, I tend to go with a pair from one of the main suppliers such as Everlast, RDX, Title, Cleto Reyes, Lonsdale etc. These companies have been designing and manufacturing boxing gloves for many years and I've yet to find a pair with any particular design deficiency. This said, there is a considerable personal preference aspect in terms of the 'feel' of the boxing glove and as such there is some trial and error involved. I for instance dislike those bag gloves that for some reason have the thumb removed, I just don't get it and would therefore not buy a pair.
There is one issue upon which I will not compromise, regardless of the type of boxing gloves that I am buying. I will always opt for the gloves being made from leather. The internal filling can vary, but the main body of the glove must be leather for me. My experience is that other imitation leather options simply split along the seams following what has to be said is fairly limited use. Leather is King!
Finally, having bought a pair of boxing bag gloves, it's vital that you give yourself time to settle in with them. Aim to complete at least about 50 rounds of bag work before you decide whether they are for you. This should help avoid you becoming involved in a very expensive boxing glove merry-go-round! Bag Gloves/Bag Mitts (US): Bag Gloves/Bag Mitts (UK):
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Sparring Boxing Gloves
Boxers take part in sparring very regularly based upon the logic that the more you do something the better you get at it. Amateur boxers may actually spar 15 to 18 rounds per week. Top professional boxers when preparing for a fight may spar up to 200 x 3 minute rounds of sparring. Whatever way you cut it, that's a lot of punches coming and going.
Due to the fact that we spar so often, sparring gloves offer more padding and protection than other types of boxing gloves and are therefore heavier. Sparring gloves are 14oz, 16oz or 18oz in weight. If boxing gloves are less that 14oz in weight then they are NOT sparring gloves. For me 16oz is the way to go.
However, you should be aware of something when you are buying sparring gloves. Boxing coaches can be very particular when it comes to sparring gloves and safety. The regularity with which we oversee sparring means that we like boxing gloves that are designed right i.e. with the padding in the right places!
It is ALWAYS at the coach's discretion whether you are able to wear a pair of boxing gloves that you have bought for sparring. The fact that your gloves are marketed as sparring gloves, or that they are 16oz in weight, does not mean that a coach in your local boxing gym will allow you to use them for sparring.
The coach has the safety of the boxers at the centre of their mind, and if that coach feels that your gloves do not provide enough padding at the knuckle area of the glove, then you will not use them for sparring...period! If you are joining a boxing gym or boxing club, then the likelihood is that they will supply the boxing gloves required when it comes to sparring. So, if you pull out your freshly purchased boxing gloves, don't take it personally of the coach does not let you use them.
In terms wearing sparring boxing gloves when using punching equipment such as the heavy bag, they can be expensive but do provide additional padding and excellent wrist support (although this support can equally be achieved with effective bandaging). Using this type of boxing glove on the heavy bag can be out of necessity, such as when recovering from a hand injury and seeking to reduce the shock from impact, or a simply as a matter of mood; sometimes a change is as good as a rest!
One more thing, sparring gloves are available in both laced-up versions and Velcro strap. This might seem obvious, but unless you have a willing coach (or training partner) to tie up your glove laces you will need to stuff those laces inside the glove as there is no way you can tie them unaided! For this reason I tend to opt for Velcro straps. Sparring Boxing Gloves (US): Sparring Boxing Gloves (UK):
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Amateur Boxing Gloves
Amateur boxing gloves, often referred to as competition gloves, are those that are used during amateur boxing contests. In most countries, amateur boxing is very strongly regulated by that country's amateur boxing association. The design and build of protective equipment, such as boxing gloves and head guards, are quality safety tested before being authorised for use in a contest.
Most amateur boxing associations demand that the amateur boxing gloves used during contests are approved by the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA), and this is certainly true at international level tournaments including the World Championships, the Olympics and their qualifying tournaments. In fact, if you are a coach and are looking to purchase sets of boxing gloves for your own show, you need to check the AIBA website in order to check the list of approved suppliers (at time of writing that list consists of 4 suppliers; Adidas, Top Ten, Wessing and Sting).
AIBA approved amateur boxing gloves have on the wristband a small silver holographic sticker which shows that they are indeed AIBA approved. If you intend to buy amateur boxing gloves with the intention of competing in them, then you should be aware that you are unlikely to be allowed to wear them by the boxing association officials, either at a club show or at a tournament. As with professional boxing matches, the organiser of the boxing event supplies the AIBA-approved gloves.
Amateur boxing gloves are either 10oz or 12oz in weight depending upon the weight of the boxers and are available in a choice of 2 colours; red and blue. These colours indicate the colour of the corner that the boxer starts the match from. This limited colour choice is a further reason why you shouldn't buy with the expectation of competing; what if you own a red pair of amateur boxing gloves and you are in the blue corner?
Amateur boxing gloves may have a white band across the knuckle area; this is the scoring area of the glove. If a punch lands and this white band is not in contact with the target, then this will be classed as a foul punch and the referee will issue a warning. In recent years the white band is becoming less common in favour of solid red or blue.
The main safety characteristic of amateur boxing gloves is the increased level padding in the knuckle area. This increased level of padding is specifically designed to absorb shock and reduce power and is fundamentally different from the distribution of padding in pro boxing gloves (which we will cover in a moment).
The thumb on an amateur boxing glove is not independent from the main body of the glove, this reduces the potential for eye injuries. The final characteristic of the competition amateur boxing glove is a Velcro fastener wristband which allows speedy 'gloving up' as on the night of a tournament there may only be 3 or 4 sets of gloves available, so quick turnaround is vital.
If you are buying amateur boxing gloves, then you are only likely to use them on punching equipment. They are relatively expensive compared to other types of boxing gloves on the market, but they are generally top quality. On a final note, a good coach in a boxing club will not let you use amateur boxing gloves during sparring; they are only 10oz and do not afford the level of protection for a boxer who may spar 15 to 18 rounds per week. This is worth noting! Amateur Boxing Gloves (US): Amateur Boxing Gloves (UK):
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Professional Boxing Gloves
Pro boxing gloves are available in 8oz or 10oz, with the latter being far more prevalent in modern boxing. The key design characteristic of pro boxing gloves is that the weight/padding tends to be more evenly distributed around the glove and the wrist section of the glove tends to be longer. This results in a thinner glove at the knuckle section. The main result of this design is that the potential for a knockout during a professional boxing match is greater than during an amateur boxing match (accepting that pro boxers generally hit harder than the amateurs anyway).
As described previously in relation to sparring boxing gloves, no good boxing trainer or coach would ever allow unsuitable gloves to be used for sparring, and pro boxing gloves are within this category of 'unsuitable'. The potential for injury if pro boxing gloves are used for sparring is just too great.
if you are a professional fighter then you will know that the boxing gloves are supplied for your fights by the promoter. This all means that if you pay for gloves marketed as pro boxing gloves, you are in effect buying boxing gloves that you will use only on punching equipment.
If you are intent on buying pro boxing gloves for use on the heavy bag for instance, then they are a good choice (if you can afford it) as they give a great 'feel' whilst hitting the punch bag and provide a high level of hand and wrist protection. However, the 'norm' for genuine professional fight gloves is the lace up option. Velcro straps have simply not been adopted for professional fight gloves. So, unless you have someone who can tie on your gloves, 'genuine' pro fight gloves are not really practical for gym use. Professional Boxing Gloves (US): Professional Boxing Gloves (UK):
Do you feel that you have an improved understanding of what is available in the world of boxing gloves? Be sure to let me know by posting a comment below. By the way, whatever activity you are undertaking with your boxing gloves, be sure to use some kind of effective hand protection such as bandages, hand wraps or undergloves. Hand injuries are no fun at all!
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One more thing, if you click on and subsequently make a purchase of any of the products on this page then I am paid a small commission. By law I need to tell you this.