What Everybody Ought to Know About Boxing Gloves
You're about to learn more about boxing gloves than you really need to know.
Boxing gloves protect you and your opponent. The earliest form of boxing glove originated in Greece (cestus) and consisted of something meant to inflict pain and suffering rather than reduce it. It was basically leather straps that may or may not have things such as studs embedded in them. In short, they made boxing fights good and bloody.
Lucky for those of us practicing boxing today, boxing decided to become more civilized. Boxing gloves, while they haven't changed a whole lot, have benefitted from better materials and an understanding of science in the boxing glove development process.
Two Types of Boxing Gloves
1. Bag Gloves (Training Gloves)
Sometimes people talking about boxing gloves are really referring to bag gloves or training gloves. The difference is that bag gloves are for hitting heavy bags and not people. Bag gloves are designed to protect you and not what you are hitting. Bag gloves can be used over wrapped hands or unwrapped hands and are designed to offer some padding and protection against scrapes and contusions while conditioning your hands for progressively heavier impacts. Bag gloves, like boxing gloves, come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most boxers tend to use a heavier bag glove as a conditioning tool to increase stamina and endurance (especially in the shoulder region).
2. Boxing Gloves
Boxing gloves are used to protect not only you, but your opponent. Most common sizes of boxing glove are sixteen, twelve, ten, and eight ounce sizes (16oz, 12oz, 10oz, 8oz) and can come in a variety of styles. Some boxing gloves are pre-moulded meaning that they are already formed in a fist shape. You slide your fingers into the gloves and they naturally have to curl. Some are not moulded and you have to form the hitting surface. Some boxing gloves are fastened with string, others with velcro.
How do Boxing Gloves Work?
Boxing gloves are made with one thing in mind - force of impact. Force and the reduction of it on impact is what boxing gloves are designed for. A bigger, heavier boxing glove will decelerate and accelerate at a slower rate. This deceleration will reduce the forces involved at impact both on you and your opponent. They will cause less acceleration of the brain inside the skull cavity resulting in less damage. If you know anything about kinetic energy, a bigger boxing glove will transfer less kinetic energy on impact. As well, the increased size of the boxing glove will dissipate the force of impact over a larger area. In short, a bigger boxing glove will cause less damage to you and your opponent.
How are Boxing Gloves Made?
Boxing gloves are designed based on achieving a certain amount of compression. When the boxing glove strikes the target, the force is reduced or absorbed as the glove compresses. If the material used loses its ability to compress then the boxing gloves ability to reduce forces is dramatically decreased. The material that is supposed to compress becomes nothing more than a dense layer of padding that will protect the wearer of the boxing glove but will do little to reduce forces on impact. High density polyurethane, cotton, and horsehair are some types of padding materials often used.
Much like the space age memory foam mattresses a lot of people sleep on, padding also exhibits memory characteristics. The best padding will lose it's memory very quickly otherwise an initial blow will compress the material and subsequent blows will not benefit from the padding.
Boxing gloves must also be highly durable and resistant to tears, scrapes, and thousands of high speed impacts. For that reason, top grain leather is used - especially cowhide and goatskin due to their highly durable nature. The stitching has to be top notch to ensure the padding stays where it is supposed to and is usually a nylon based thread.
If you are interested in exactly how they are hand stitched and formed from pattern, you can read more about the manufacturing process.
What Size of Boxing Gloves Should You Buy?
The answer to that question depends on what you are using them for. In general, How to Box recommends you use the following sizes of boxing gloves depending on your boxing activity:
a. Sparring: 16oz gloves
b. Training: Bag gloves - 12oz for beginners, increase weight to increase intensity and endurance
c. Amateur Fights: depends on the rules of the fight - generally 10oz glove is used and will be either red or blue with a white target area to help the judges score.
d. Professional Fights: will be decided in the rules of the professional affiliation the fight is sanctioned by. I believe 8oz gloves are the norm.
Boxing Gloves that Fit You
After deciding what size of boxing glove you want, the best way to buy boxing gloves is to wrap your hands and then try them on. If you are shopping without your hand wraps, you can put something about the size of a roll of quarters in your palm and then slip on the boxing glove. It should be tight, but not to the point where your hands are going to be deprived of blood. Your fingertips should fit firmly against the top of the glove and it should lace up or velcro tight around your wrist. The last thing you want is a glove flying off when you punch. I've never seen it happen, but a loose boxing glove could potentially cause all sorts of grief.
You will also want to consider where you will be using the boxing gloves. If you are training by yourself, then opt for a velcro fastener. It really sucks trying to get your gloves on and lace them up by yourself. Velcro will make it slightly easier.
Does Boxing Glove Brand Matter
To some people it does and to some people it doesn't. The top boxing manufacturers, Everlast, Title, Ringside, Rival all make excellent boxing gloves. There are a lot of other manufacturers that also make good boxing gloves. In short, you sometimes end up paying for a brand name, and you may or may not want to do that.
Boxing gloves you should avoid are the cheaper vinyl gloves. While the price is right, the quality isn't. The material will wear out very quickly and you'll end up buying another pair in the near future. Spend the money now for a quality pair of boxing gloves for your purpose and you shouldn't have to invest in another pair anytime soon.
You can browse a variety of boxing gloves in the How to Box Boxing Gear Store.