The proper kind of boxing glove is a crucial component of any fighter’s equipment bag. Whether you're a newcomer to the sport or a veteran with a couple of fights under their belt, understanding what to look for in your gloves will help you become a stronger, more effective athlete.
Having the appropriate gloves will help keep your hands protected and comfortable while training. Just like about any other kind of gear, your boxing gloves will work the best when they are the proper size for your needs. There are also a plethora of different types and styles of gloves that are specialized for different needs.
By understanding and choosing the right glove for you, you decrease your chances of injury as well as be that much closer to getting that killer swing in your boxing résumé. So, try not to skimp out on your equipment and find some gear that will let you train in a healthy, sustainable manner.
Before we go into the different types of boxing gloves and what to look for, let's have a brief look into the sport.
Humans have been fighting in hand to hand combat since the dawn of recorded human history. Some of the earliest forms of fist fighting as a sports date back to even 6,000 years ago. The earliest evidence of rules that would eventually lead to the sport we know and love today dates back to Ancient Greece in 688 BC. This is when and where boxing was introduced as a sport in the Olympic Games. It is also where the first record of hand gloves was found.
Today boxing continues to be a beloved sport drawing in millions of fans around the world. It remains a fantastic way for people to keep active, train discipline, and reach their fitness goals. There are also plenty of other health benefits that make the sport that much more impressive.
Choosing the Right Pair of Gloves
When choosing the proper pair of gloves for your needs, there are some things that you should take into consideration. Other than the style or type of glove, which we will go into detail more later, there are some major factors that you should think about before you buy a pair.
Gloves sizes are displayed in ounces and can range from 6oz for youth to 20oz gloves for heavyweights. This means some gloves are much heavier than others. So if you have a smaller build, you may run into issues when using a heavier set of gloves. Like mentioned previously, boxing gloves are truly at their best when they fit nice and snug on the hand. This means one of the first things you need to do is find gloves that fit your size. There are three measurements that are used to determine which size would fit your needs best: Your height, your weight, and the circumference of your hands.
Getting your height and weight is fairly straightforward. All you need is some measuring tape and a scale and you are set! Measuring the circumference of your hand can be a little more complicated. The ideal way to get a measurement for your hands is to get a fabric measuring tape and wrap it around your dominant hand just below your knuckles. The tape should meet in the center of your palm for the number we want. Alternatively, if you do not own a flexible tape measure, you can use a piece of string to the same effect. Just mark where your measurement is and lay the string down straight and flat on an appropriate surface. You can then use a regular ruler to get the number you’re looking for.
In general, the measurement for your hand circumference will be the best indicator of what size glove you should purchase. Height and weight are just used as overarching guidelines to steer you in the right direction as everyone comes in unique shape and size.
Once you have all your measurements down, you can move on to the next decision: What style of glove you need.
Different Styles of Gloves
While looking mostly the same, there are different styles of boxing gloves all specialized to perform differently. Each one has a quality that best suits its intended use.
As stated in the name, these gloves are designed specifically to be used on the heavy bag, speed bag, or pad training. The main purpose of bag gloves is to provide a sufficient shield against bags. This is important because bag gloves are not meant to be used in fighting or competition. This is because they actually have less padding than other models. While it may seem odd to have gloves with less protection, these gloves are designed this way to allow boxers to feel their punches and become accustomed to the impact of their punches. However, these do NOT have adequate protection to protect punches thrown against hard body parts.
A good pair of bag gloves should be able to protect your hands and wrists from injuries when taking some swings at a bag. If an awkward punch is thrown or your form is incorrect, these should allow you to feel what went wrong so you can adjust accordingly.
Training gloves are a great balanced option for beginners that want to break into the sport. These are typically used by those who want to take up art as a fitness activity rather than build towards actual fights. These gloves have sufficient padding and can be used for bag work and some sparring but it's not necessarily specialized for either. These can be a fantastic introductory glove for novices that will let you get the motions down. These really aren't made for heavy, hard swings though so be wary.
As the name implies, sparring gloves are built for the sole purpose of practicing sparring matches. These have extra padding because these are not meant to score a knockout on your opponent. The extra padding is not only to protect your hands from impact with hard body parts but to protect your sparring partner as well. The overall purpose of sparring is to allow you to just train on your techniques without seriously hurting yourself or your partner too much.
Now, these are a fighter’s gloves. Competition gloves are designed with the fight in mind. They are built with less padding in the knuckles in order for your opponent to really feel your strikes. There are two types of competitive gloves: amateur and professional. Both types follow sizing by weight division with amateur gloves more regulated as the rules are typically more strict at this level.
Genuine professional competitive gloves are usually sold at a higher price point. Since professional athletes are the target audience of this product, they are quite willing to purchase these gloves at the price.
It is very important to note that these fighting gloves should never be used for everyday training and sparring. Due to their firm padding and compact size, professional gloves are intended to inflict sharp and powerful punches that can seriously hurt whoever is on the receiving end.
These aren't technically boxing gloves but they are oftentimes used interchangeably, so we thought we would touch on them in order to avoid confusion. It’s interesting to differentiate Muay Thai fighting gloves from traditional gloves. Both can be used for sports that utilize bag and pad sparring. Muay Thai also involves sparring matches that involve blows with our hands, much like boxing.
However, there are some differences that set the Muay Thai Gloves apart from traditional boxing gloves. Muay Thai typically gives the user more flexibility as the gloves allow the athlete to open and close their hands easily compared to boxing gloves. This extra flexibility leaves the thumbs more freedom to move and grip blows. This comes especially handy to catch kicks, which are prevalent in the sport. They also provide a lighter tension which leads to generally more offensive blows.
If this little explanation of their gloves interests you, check out some of the different kinds of styles that Muay Thai has to offer.
Finding the right size isn't as intimidating and frustrating as some people make it out to be. Here are some examples to help you find your perfect fit. Remember to take into account the 3 categories. Even if it doesn't match with the guidelines, just try it on and go with what feels good and fits comfortably.
Amateur boxing gloves generally come in 3 different sizes:
- Athletes under the light welterweight class (141lbs) typically wear 10oz gloves.
- Athletes in between the divisions of welterweight (152lbs) and super heavyweight (201lbs) most commonly use 12oz gloves
- Masters Division athletes that are over the age of 41 usually use 16oz gloves
Professional boxing gloves are separated into two categories:
- Athletes welterweight (147lbs) and underuse 8oz gloves.
- Athletes super welterweight (154lbs) and up will typically wear 10oz gloves.