We’ve since released an updated version of this article, with updated information and new additions.
Head to The Ultimate Guide To Boxing Gloves (Updated 2019)
Welcome to the Fight Quality ultimate guide to everything you need to know about boxing gloves. This guide aims to be the only resource you’ll ever need when it comes to boxing gloves. We’ve broken down just about everything you need to know, from the specialisations of the different styles of glove, to the different brands available.
We’ll be talking about a number of different topics in this guide, so if you’re looking for a specific area, feel free to jump to the related section.
– The Basics
– The History
– How Do They Work?
– How Are They Made?
– What Types Are There?
– Lace Up vs Velcro
– Common Features
– How To Tell What Size/Weight You Need
– Choosing the Right Brand
– Choosing The Right Colour
– How to Keep Them Clean
In this 7,000+ word ultimate guide you should be able to find everything you need to know about boxing gloves. If you’ve stumbled upon this guide looking for a quick run-down on the basics of boxing gloves, but don’t have the time or patience to read the whole thing then we have just the video for you! The video below will take you through the absolute basics.
It goes without saying that for a number of combat sports including boxing, kickboxing and Muay Thai, you need to use boxing gloves. In this section we’re going to take a closer look into why we use them in the first place. To understand what protection boxing gloves provide, it’s important to look back at what the sport of boxing was like before the introduction of boxing gloves and other safety measures.
Boxing is one of the most widely known martial arts in the western world, and is widely practised worldwide. Boxing as a sport has been practised longer than records themselves, although the first records of any form of hand protection date back to Ancient Greece, where the fighters’ hands were wrapped in rawhide, although these were also intended as a method of causing more injury to the opponent as well.
The style of boxing gloves you would recognise today were introduced in England in the 18th century, where boxing was regaining popularity and recognition as a sport. At the time, gloves were only used for training, and fights were still performed bare knuckle. It wasn’t until the late 1800s when protective boxing gloves were made a requirement, thanks to the Queensbury Rules established in 1867 which are still the basis of sport boxing rules today.
Currently, the International Boxing Association (IBA) approves new designs of gloves according to rules around weight and the amount of leather, padding and support allowed.
Boxing gloves are used in a variety of martial arts and combat sports in addition to boxing, which has led to numerous variations of gloves depending on the sport. Muay Thai for example uses a glove which is only slightly different to boxing gloves, while MMA gloves are much smaller and less padded, with open fingers to allow much better use of the hands.
Unlike most other martial arts, boxing is incredibly restricted in its move sets, using just the fists, which means there’s an incredibly high intensity of strikes to the head and body. Before the modern rule set was introduced, boxing was much more dangerous. Bare knuckle fighting creates a high risk of cuts, and creates a much more condensed impact which can easily contribute to broken bones. It was also more common for dirty tactics to be used, and both accidental and intentional eye gouging with the thumb was always a possibility.
Boxing gloves solve a lot of these issues. The gloves fit around the hand, naturally forming a fist shape, with a layer of protection over the whole of the back of the hand and fingers and the thumb too. The padding reduces the intensity of the impacts on both the hands and the opponent, drastically increasing the safety of the sport.
The impact gloves have on brain injuries and concussions are not necessarily as great however. You would think that the padding of the gloves helps to reduce the sudden shock from punches to the head, however it isn’t quite that simple. Think about this – how hard would you feel safe punching a wall without any hand protection? And now how hard could you hit it if you knew that your hands were well protected? A lot harder, right? The same principle applies to boxing. The protection added from boxing gloves means that it’s a lot easier to punch a harder, which means that the risk of concussions and brain injuries may even be higher. Many boxers from the sport’s ‘golden era’ are now suffering with severe mental illnesses and permanent brain injuries as a result of less importance placed on protection. Thankfully we’re much more aware about the importance of protection now, and just how important it is to train safely and protected.
While smaller boxing gloves are used in competition, it’s important to always use heavier padded gloves for training and sparring in order to maximise protection. Headgear is also an important piece of training gear which can make the head much safer when sparring (although some studies dispute this claim).
As a review website, we’ve of course reviewed a whole range of boxing gloves from a host of different brands, all of which are built completely differently. One thing which isn’t discussed often is how boxing gloves are actually produced. Different factories all do things slightly differently which is why most brands will have their own unique build style or shape. We’ve done a little bit of research so that we can give you a quick breakdown on the basics of their production.
Before we get into any details, here’s a great video from Title Boxing covering the overall process of designing and building a boxing glove.
The first step in the production process is cutting the outer materials. The materials used for boxing gloves often tell a lot about the quality of the glove. Boxing gloves are almost always cut from thin cowhide or synthetic leather. Synthetic leather is often used to cut costs and can range in quality with some made of really poor vinyl, and some almost indistinguishable from real leather. Leather gloves are usually of a much higher quality and much more durable.
Sometimes the thumb is cut from the same piece of leather, sometimes it’s cut as a separate piece and stitched on to the other pieces. This mostly depends on the type of build and padding used. Other parts of the glove such as the Velcro cuff, along with any patches are often assembled now too, but kept separate from the rest of the glove for now.
Usually this is when any graphics are printed onto the gloves. It’s important to get the printing done while the materials are still flat to avoid any issues when printing. If this is done when the glove assembly has started then it will be a lot harder to achieve and limit the printable area.
Then starts the stitching, forming the shape of the glove before the padding is put in. The base of the glove is actually stitched inside out initially, which means that when the glove is inverted, the majority of the stitches and seams are on the inside. This is also a time where features like breathable meshes and grip bars are stitched into the gloves.
Traditionally horsehair was used to pad boxing gloves, and still is with some premium brands, however these days boxing gloves typically use either a combination of layered foams or IMF (Injection Moulded Foam). The layered foams allow for different densities in different areas of the glove. Most brands have their own unique combination of padding. Usually these hold their shape partly because of the leather and partly because of the way the layering is done. IMF on the other hand is moulded and set in the shape of the boxing gloves, so hold their shape a lot more naturally.
Here’s a great video from 1v1 Fight Gear which explains the differences a little more in-depth.
The padding is then inserted into the sections which were stitched together earlier, usually along with the glove’s inner lining. This is when the glove starts to take shape and become recognisable. The cuff and its lining are then stitched together and is then attached afterwards and stitched into place on the bottom of the glove.
If the glove is going to be using laces then a template is laid over the opening on the palm of the glove and lace holes are punched in. If the gloves are going to be Velcro however then the Velcro strap will be stitched into place. The two sides of Velcro will have been assembled earlier. Finally a thin strip of leather is folded over the outer edges of the cuff and palm and is stitched in place to finish the glove.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this section, most brands will have their own processes which all vary slightly from one another, but this should give you a better idea of the process as a whole. Here’s a beautiful video from Yokkao, which shows a great close-up look at the construction process.
Whether you’ve been training for a while, or are just considering taking it up, you’ll no doubt have noticed that not all boxing gloves are the same. There’s actually more variation than you would expect, and each style of glove has its own uses. Here’s a quick run-down on most of the styles of boxing glove you may come across.
You’ll often find brands advertising boxing gloves as training gloves or bag gloves*. These are basically your typical all-round boxing glove. Sometimes they’re built for bag and pad work, however they’re usually pretty versatile and useful in any type of training. For most of what you’ll be doing, you’ll probably be using a pair of these. Not all general purpose gloves are labelled as training gloves though, and are often just referred to as boxing gloves.
*Please note, there is a difference between modern bag gloves (also referred to as ‘super’ bag gloves) and the traditional style of bag gloves as mentioned later in the article. We advise to stay away from traditional bag gloves as much as possible as they lack the support and protection of modern boxing gloves.
In sparring, the aim of boxing gloves are to protect both you and your sparring partner, not to knock them out. You could use any pair of boxing gloves for sparring (assuming they’re an acceptable weight), however many brands sell specific sparring gloves which are optimised for the activity. Sparring gloves are pretty similar to training gloves, however the padding is usually slightly softer or more cushioned with better optimised distribution, to make impacts less sharp. Sparring gloves are often sold in a variety of weights, however you should only really be using these at 14oz or above, depending on your bodyweight.
It’s always the coach’s decision whether or not you’re able to wear a pair of gloves during sparring. Your coach likely has a lifetime of experience under their belt and without a doubt knows more than you do, so if they believe your gloves are the wrong weight, unsafe or just generally unsuitable, then take their word for it. It’s always best to check what weight of glove your gym suggest you should be using to spar and to make sure you buy your glove from a reputable brand if possible. Most of it comes down to common sense though; if you’re a bigger guy trying to get away with using some worn-out, second hand 14oz gloves from a dodgy looking brand nobody’s ever heard of, then you should really know better.
Amateur Competition Gloves
You’ll probably never need to buy yourself a pair of these, but it’s worth knowing what they are. Amateur boxing competitions tend to use a specific style of gloves, which are usually provided to the fighters by the promotion. The gloves are typically coloured red or blue, depending on the fighters corner. It’s also not unusual for the knuckle area of the glove to be highlighted. These features make it much clearer for the judges to score the fight.
You should only really be worried about professional gloves if you’re planning on competing. As the name suggests, these are boxing gloves which are specifically built for use in professional competition, and often sacrifice hand protection and sometimes comfort to maximise offence. Usually the padding is much firmer, also making the gloves smaller and more compact. In a way these gloves are designed to deliver as sharp a blow as possible with each punch. Professional boxing gloves aren’t really suited to everyday training however, and shouldn’t really be used much outside competition. For most competitions you’ll be using 8oz or 10oz gloves depending on the weight. Pro gloves are almost always lace-up, as it’s rare for high level competitions to allow Velcro boxing gloves at all.
Don’t be fooled by the ‘pro-style’ boxing gloves sold for dirt cheap in your local sports store, those are just brands using the term as an advertising gimmick and are often just basic training gloves. True professional boxing gloves aren’t cheap in the slightest, and many boxers pay hundreds for a good pair.
Mexican style boxing gloves
In the early days of boxing when boxing gloves were big bubbles of padding, Mexican style gloves were vastly unique. Their sleeker shape and tighter padding made them stand out. These days, the features are more standard and the term has been thrown around a lot more, however there are still a number of ‘Mexican style gloves’ available. In essence, they’re really a sub-category of professional boxing gloves.
Many people will know Cleto Reyes as one of the top premium glove manufacturers. These are a good example of what are referred to as Mexican gloves. They’re often slightly more fitted to the hand, with a longer cuff, however the main difference is in the padding which is often more compact. Supposedly they mould to the hand superbly after breaking them in, however it likely depends on the brand of the glove. Cleto Reyes for example still use horsehair to provide a much firmer padding, with goat skin for the leather.
Muay Thai gloves
Muay Thai is a completely different sport to boxing, and the boxing gloves have developed accordingly. The gloves are aimed more at kickboxers who need a move versatile boxing glove. Thailand has a large number of glove manufacturers which each excel in different aspects, however all of them focus a lot more on a more distributed padding for better protection on the back of the hand, and a lot more flexibility in the grip, allowing the palm to open more to catch kicks. It’s not uncommon for brands to have extra padding down the side of the palm as well. Some people simply prefer the shape of Muay Thai gloves, while some people don’t at all, however it’s important to bear in mind the subtle features which make them slightly more suitable for kickboxing and Muay Thai.
We asked a number of top UK Muay Thai fighters what gloves they use. Take a look at what they told us in our post The Best Boxing Gloves for Muay Thai – According to UK Fighters.
Other types of gloves
There are a few other types of glove you should be aware of. We’ll quickly break these down so you know what else is out there when you look for boxing gloves. These gloves tend to have much more specific uses, and often aren’t usable in boxing, kickboxing or Muay Thai.
Traditional bag gloves are a smaller alternative to boxing gloves with minimum protection. These lack many of the protective properties of full boxing gloves. Often gyms won’t let you train with these, although they’re still sold by many retailers, and often come bundled in free with punching bags. We personally recommend to just steer clear altogether if you can help it. The shape is often just generic and the padding minimal, with little or no wrist support.
MMA gloves have developed specifically for Mixed Martial Arts. While not technically boxing gloves, they are used for a similar purpose. Unlike boxing gloves, these are fingerless, often with an open palm, to allow easier grappling. If you’re training in boxing or Muay Thai, you shouldn’t need to use these.
We asked a number of top UK Muay Thai fighters what gloves they use. Take a look at what they told us in our post The Best MMA Gloves – According to UK Fighters.
Semi contact gloves (for example Karate gloves or Taekwondo gloves) are another type of glove. Once again, these aren’t suitable for boxing or Muay Thai. These gloves are often a midway point between boxing gloves and MMA gloves. The padding is minimal and sometimes made out of dipped foam. As they’re only used in semi-contact sports, they don’t need to provide anywhere near as much protection as boxing gloves do.
If you’re wondering what boxing gloves you need, here are a few main things to consider:
– Are the gloves for competition or training?
– If competition, what weight of gloves is required for your weight class?
– If training, what will the gloves be used for? Bag/pad work, sparring, or a bit of both?
– Are you going to be using it for a sport where you’ll need to block/catch kicks?
– Are you buying specific gloves for each activity, or one pair which you can use for everything?
With these in mind, and the information above, you should be able to identify the type of glove you’re going to need. If you still aren’t sure, ask us in the comments section and we’ll try and help you out, or ask for your coach’s recommendation.
When boxing gloves first started, they were all made with laces, but it wasn’t until a lot later, a little while after the ‘hook and loop’ enclosures which are usually known as Velcro were introduced to make boxing gloves a lot quicker and easier to put on. As the years have gone by, Velcro gloves are now incredibly popular and almost all beginners will start with Velcro gloves. You may be asking whether you should be wearing lace up boxing gloves or Velcro boxing gloves, but the decision between the two is effectively a decision between better fit or better convenience.
So what are the benefits of each type?
Lace-Up Boxing Gloves
- Lace-up gloves provide a closer, more secure fit
- Often have a longer cuff, but not always
- Require the help of another person to lace up for you
- Mostly used for professional fights as it’s easy to add a sleeve or add a layer of tape around the wrist to hold the laces in shape
- In professional boxing, lace up gloves are the norm because fighters usually have a coach or trainer to fasten the gloves for them
To get around the problem with not always having someone to lace up your gloves for you, some people opt to replace the laces in their gloves with elasticated cord. Doing this doesn’t give anywhere near as nice a fit as standard laces do, but does mean you can stretch it to get your hands in and secured without anybody else’s help.
Velcro Boxing Gloves
- Velcro gloves are quick to put on for training
- There are a number of different fastening styles of velcro attachment, wrapping around in different directions or using elastic to try and get a snug fit
- You can get a good amount of wrist protection from some Velcro gloves
- Unfortunately they can sometimes scratch opponents or get caught during sparring or fighting, hence why they’re not used much in competitions
Velcro gloves are really focused on ease of use. More and more people train alone now, so being able to glove up on your own is almost a must. They’re also favoured by beginners, as they work well with short training sessions, allowing you to take them off and put them back on again in seconds, not to mention the fact that they’re often much cheaper.
Hybrid Boxing Gloves
As well as lace-up gloves and velcro gloves, there’s also another type – Hybrid gloves. While not as common, there are a few of these gloves about now. Cleto Reyes Hybrid Training Gloves, Hayabusa Kanpeki Elite V-Lace Gloves and the 16oz Hayabusa Glory Training Gloves are all examples of hybrid training gloves. They try to incorporate both laces and Velcro for the best results. Unfortunately, while they maximise on fit and protection, you’ll still need someone to help with the laces, so you lose out on a lot of the convenience. It is still possible to just tuck in the laces instead and rely solely on the Velcro strap though, so you do have much more flexibility in how you secure your gloves.
If you’re wondering which type of gloves you should be using then it really comes down to two things; the type of activity you’re using your boxing gloves for, and your own personal preference. Before writing the post, we asked a few of our Twitter followers what type of boxing gloves they preferred. As you can see it’s a pretty even split between Velcro and lace-up gloves, but some people prefer hybrid gloves too.
Whether you’re looking to buy boxing gloves or just using them regularly it’s a good idea to know what the common features of boxing gloves are and what they do. We’ve already been through the Types Of Boxing Gloves and broken down the benefits of Lace Up vs Velcro Boxing Gloves, so by now you should know the basics when it comes to boxing gloves. Here we’ll break down some of the additional features of gloves that can improve usage and add that extra touch.
Please remember that not all gloves are designed with these features, and some people prefer to buy their gloves without these extras for a number of reasons.
A grip bar is a lightweight bar, often made with a dense foam which sits between the fingers and the palm. Grip bars are there to make it feel more natural to make a fist and stop the leather from bunching up uncomfortably in your hand.
An attached thumb means the thumb is connected to the fingers with a piece of leather. In the early days of boxing, boxers were prone to thumb injuries and accidental eye gouges to their opponents. Most gloves now have attached thumbs to keep the thumb in place and prevent these injuries.
These are simply holes which are often punched directly into the leather on the palm, or the insides of the thumb or fingers. They allow air to flow through to keep your hands cool and help the gloves to dry slightly easier, without losing the natural shape of the leather.
On breathable gloves, part (or sometimes all) of the palm is replaced with a breathable mesh, which works even better at letting air flow through for maximum comfort, however sometimes reduces the natural shape of the gloves slightly.
On some Velcro boxing gloves, the separation between the two sides of the palm comes up quite high, so the gloves have an elasticated strip to hold the glove together. These can sometimes provide a tighter fit, as well as making the gloves easier to slide your hand into and secure compared to other gloves.
You may have noticed that the padding on the knuckles of some gloves overhangs slightly, sticking out over the thumb which makes it look like it’s tucked in slightly. This is to protect the thumb from getting hit accidentally, and taking the full force on the knuckles instead.
Less common features:
This is a feature only found on some bag gloves and not suitable for sparring. Some gloves have been designed with hard padded layers on the outside of the gloves, which reduce some of the impact, allowing you to hit much harder safely, whilst also increasing the durability of the gloves.
Padded palms are more often found in Muay Thai gloves, which are often used for protecting against kicks, but can sometimes be found on regular boxing gloves too. Padded palms aren’t necessary for boxing, but can add an extra layer of comfort when blocking and parrying, as well as overall hand protection.
Gloves with shielded wrists are becoming a bit more popular at the moment. These gloves are usually Velcro gloves where the Velcro strap on the inside of the wrist, with the back of the wrist covered in a sturdy ‘shielded’ section. This can drastically improve wrist stability and also creates an additional layer of support when blocking strikes.
Sweat absorbent thumb
This feature isn’t found often, but some gloves have a sweat absorbent thumb which is great for quickly wiping off sweat when training without you needing to go and grab a towel.
Two strap system
Some Velcro gloves utilise a two strap system. This is more commonly found on MMA gloves but also sometimes found on regular boxing gloves. Usually one of these straps will be a shorter elasticated strap to hold the glove tight, while the other strap wraps around the wrist keeping the whole wrist secure.
How do you know you’re using the right size or weight boxing glove? If you ask most brands they’ll usually tell you it all depends on either your weight or the size of your hands, but is that always the case? Should you use the same weight gloves for both fitness work like pads or a heavy bag, as you would use during sparring?
In reality there is no one definite way of measuring it, because it depends on the type of training you’re using them for. Many fighters actually own multiple pairs of boxing gloves for different activities. Most manufacturers only make gloves between 10oz and 16oz, however it’s also possible to get 8oz boxing gloves, as well as 18oz and above, however these larger sizes are often professionally custom made. We’ve created a handy chart to help you, so you can tell what glove you’ll need.
Please bear in mind that different glove brands all have different fits, so it’s always best to make sure you look into the fit of the glove before you buy. You can take a look at our collection of boxing glove reviews to help you choose what to go for.
*Please note this is not a definitive answer, but more of a guide. Different gyms or competitions will often have their own suggestions or rules.
When buying boxing gloves, the brand you buy definitely matters. Almost all established fight gear brands who sell boxing gloves will have developed their own distinct style and create their gloves in completely different ways. Before looking into it though, you need to determine what sort of budget you have and what you’re going to be using that pair of gloves for.
We’re a review website, so we might be a bit biased here, but if we could give you one piece of advice when choosing equipment, it’s to avoid picking a brand just for the name, because they’re popular or because all of your friends use them, and instead actually do some research into the brand, how their gloves compare to other brands, the features the gloves have, then pick the pair of gloves that sounds like it matches what you’re looking for best. There’s no point forking out hundreds on a pair of gloves that look good if they turn out to be uncomfortable to use.
Buying a new boxing glove is sort of like buying a car. There are many different brands out there, some have features others don’t, some handle differently, and some have a different style. At low prices, you’ll get a cheap one which will fall apart pretty quickly, isn’t enjoyable to use, and generally lets you down. Then you get the moderately priced ones, which are often of a good quality. Then, past a certain price, you’re really paying for finesse, class and the superb attention to detail which went into designing them.
When looking at the different brands you can see a couple of different business models:
E.g. Reyes, Grant, Winning
These brands are the type who deliver nothing but the absolute best. You can usually spot these brands being used by professional fighters. The prices are usually expensive with these brands, however most of what you’re paying for is small refinements and attention to detail.
Affordable/mid range brands
E.g. Title, Blitz, Hayabusa
These brands are what you’re more likely to see around the gym. They often price their gloves at much more competitive prices. Some brands focus a bit more on giving you the best value for money, while others focus more on being innovative.
E.g. Everlast, Lonsdale
What we’re referring to as the ‘broad’ brands are the ones which try to make gloves to cover as much of the market as possible. From the top of the range gear which could compete with some of the premium brands, right down to the crappy budget gloves you find in your local sports shop. Everlast are a great example of this; just look at the refined, handcrafted MX Hook & Loop Training Gloves which sell for $179.99, compared to the cheap looking, shapeless Classic Training Gloves which RRP for $29.99 but are often discounted to even less than that.
These brands are a brilliant example of why you should always do your research into fight gear before buying. Just because the brand name is popular, doesn’t guarantee the gloves will be good.
Of course, different brands also sometimes focus on different types of gloves, for example Mexican brands or Thai brands both have unique styles. We went over this in a bit more detail back in the section on the Types Of Boxing Gloves.
Whether the colours of your boxing gloves matters depends what you need them for.
Usually if you’re just using the gloves for training, it won’t make any difference what your gloves look like. If you want Neon green gloves? Sure. A blood splatter design across them? Why not. Bright yellow gloves with a smiley face on them? If they exist then go for it. The brilliant thing about boxing gloves is the sheer possibilities of designs. Many brands prefer to stick to a sleek, mature design, but there are just as many brands out there which create gloves with all sorts of visuals. There are also a number of companies out there which will create custom boxing gloves for you, with your own choice of leather colour and logo or text printed on them. Many top boxers get their own personalised boxing gloves crafted for them, just the way they want them.
The restrictions with colour occur when it comes to competitions. Competitions can usually be quite strict when it comes to gloves. Often at an ‘interclub’ level it isn’t an issue, but in proper amateur competition it’s not uncommon for the organisation to supply the gloves. This is mainly to ensure that the gloves are both fair and have the same density of padding on each fighters pairs. In most cases, these gloves will include a red pair and a blue pair. This is basically to tell the difference between each of the fighters easier, which makes the judging process easier. You may also have noticed that often there are white circles on the knuckles of the glove, which are there to make punches more visible and easier to keep track of, which makes the process of scoring a fight much easier.
Professional fighting doesn’t always adhere to these same rules, however there are often regulations in place regardless. Depending on the organisation, they may have a partnership with a glove manufacturer who produce all the gloves to be used. Glory Kickboxing are a good example of this, as they always supply gloves to their fighters (the current versions are produced by MMA giants Hayabusa). Other organisations may allow more freedom with their gloves, although agreements can be made for both fighters to use the same model of boxing gloves.
There are a number of people out there who seem to believe that using red boxing gloves will give them some sort of ‘edge’ because red is a harder colour for the human body to detect. While scientifically the statement may have some truth behind it, the reality of it is that you won’t notice any differences. If your opponent is more skilled than you are, then no colour of gloves is going to help you. The only way to improve is to stop looking for cheats and just focus on training as hard as you can, upping your game and being the best version of you.
If you’re training often, it’s incredibly important to keep your gear clean. In this article we’ll be going over a couple of the steps which you can take to make sure your gloves are always clean and fresh, and avoid any possible hygiene issues.
When you use boxing gloves, you’ll find that intensive sessions can fill your gloves with sweat, especially if you choose not to wear hand wraps when you train (although you always should if you can. See our post Why Do You Need to Wear Hand Wraps to read more). Over time, this sweat can lead to increases in bacteria, causing hygiene issues and often a disgusting smell. As with most things, it’s much, much easier to take a couple of steps to prevent this from happening, than it is to fix and clean out once they’ve reached that stage.
Keep your hand wraps clean
The first rule of keeping boxing gloves clean is to keep the things you’re putting inside them clean.
This is pretty simple advice which you should be doing anyway, but it’s going to be a lot harder to keep your boxing gloves clean if you don’t have it sorted. If your hand wraps aren’t aired out and washed often enough then they’ll start to grow bacteria and smell. If you then use those foul smelling hand wraps inside your nice clean boxing gloves, then surprise surprise, the gloves are going to start smelling too.
Avoid the gym bag
A closed gym bag is a huge breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria. Seeing as its where all of your sweaty gear is thrown after training, there’s a lot of humid moisture trapped inside. The longer you let the moisture sit in your bag, the worse things will get, so it’s important to open and empty your bag as soon as you can after training.
Think of all the things you no doubt put in your bag after training; Used gloves, hand wraps, maybe even sweaty clothes, used shin guards or head gear depending on your type of training.
When you finish training and head home, you need to be removing all of these sweaty clothes and hand wraps to wash, and if possible moving your gloves and other gear out of the bag into an aired out location. If you don’t have anywhere to put your gloves, then the absolute minimum you should be doing is opening your bag up so that the bag can air a little bit.
If you want to make life a little easier, you can even get gear bags which are specifically designed to air out, such as Hayabusa’s Recast Mesh Gear Bag, Venum’s Thai Camp Sport Bag or Ring To Cage’s Mesh Gear Bag, which let the air flow naturally and much more freely than other gear bags. We haven’t tried any of these bags ourselves, but the feedback from people who have all seems to be positive.
Air them out
Once your gear bag is emptied you’ll probably want to take it a step further and air out your gloves. Even if your boxing gloves have a mesh palm, you’ll notice that it can still get a bit sweaty inside sometimes. As long as the room is well ventilated then most days you should be able to get away with just opening the glove up slightly more than usual, but occasionally you should make an effort to open them up as much as possible so that they dry out properly. If your gloves don’t have a mesh palm or you use them often, you should try and do this more often.
With Velcro gloves, it’s important to undo the Velcro strap completely, and allow the cuffs of the gloves to open up as much as possible. With laced gloves, you’ll want to make sure the laces are as loose as possible. On some gloves you may have enough flexibility in the wrists that you can fold the cuff of the glove over itself, exposing more of the outsides. I would be careful forcing this or doing it too often however, as it likely isn’t too good for the materials or padding of the gloves when bent out of shape for long periods of time.
Wipe them down
When training, not many people think to wipe their gloves down – after all, leather is usually good at drying off quickly itself – however it’s probably a good idea to.
Just look at sparring for example. Lets say you spar with 10 people, that’s 10 people who your gloves have touched, all of who are probably a bit sweaty from training hard, plus the gloves have probably touched your own face through blocking. After training all those people’s sweat stays on the boxing gloves and can lead to unhealthy bacteria growth. You won’t visibly notice anything different, but the next time you train you’re spreading that bacteria on to other people and repeating the whole process. And what if someone suffers from a nose bleed or small cut which you may not have even noticed?
After a while, the gloves can get nasty. Wiping down your gloves makes sure they’re clean and hygienic. When you’re done training, a quick wipe with a towel should eliminate most of the problem, and you can periodically give them a quick wipe with a damp cloth (avoid soaking the leather though). To give them a proper clean, you can give them a quick once over with an anti-bacterial disinfectant wipe, however try not to do it too often as the chemicals aren’t good for the leather if over-done.
Use deodorising inserts
As well as airing the gloves out, you can also use absorbent materials to help speed up the process and eliminate moisture. We’ve heard of a number of different variations of this tip, with people using newspaper inside the gloves, or filling a sock with silica gel, cedar chips or even cat litter (yes, seriously) and placing them inside.
Personally we like 2 different approaches. The first approach is similar to the ones mentioned before, where you take a sock and put a small amount of silica gel inside. Instead of putting it inside the actual glove, which can end up drying out the materials a little too much, just let it sit loose inside the gym bag. This approach helps to keep the whole bag a little fresher.
If you want to specifically dry out the inside of your gloves, then you can purchase glove deodorisers like the No Stink Sports Glove Deodoriser. These small inserts pop inside in between uses and just help to keep the gloves fresh.
These tips should help keep your boxing gloves fresh for longer, which means you can carry on using that favourite pair of gloves, while only making a few simple changes. It’s always much easier to prevent the build-up of bacteria than it is to remove it completely.
That’s All Folks
You’ve come to the end of our ultimate guide to everything you need to know about boxing gloves. Hopefully by now you know exactly what you were looking for. If there’s something you’d like to know that we haven’t mentioned, ask us a question in the comments below. We’re always happy to reply.
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