We live in a world which is constantly evolving. Even compared to just 10 years ago, the things around us are completely different. Today is the world where we can call a cab with an app, where we control our own homes with our phones, where cars can now drive themselves and where you can track your health with a watch. With some aspects of life it’s easy to see the effects of progress.
But what about in the boxing world? The innovation can be a little harder to see.
Let’s take a look at a vital part of any boxer’s arsenal – perhaps even the crux of the sport – boxing gloves.
Boxing gloves have a set purpose, to protect both the user and opponent in a way that allows the sport to be practiced and competed in without unnecessary damage being caused – e.g. cuts and broken bones. Using hand protection has been a factor in boxing for the entirety of the sport’s recorded history, but became a requirement after the Marquess of Queensberry rules were established in 1867.
For a piece of equipment with such a specific purpose it’s not a surprise that the boxing gloves of today aren’t too unrecognisable from those of the past, but there has been a distinct evolution, with the commercial market leading brands to compete for the most protective, comfortable and supportive gloves possible. Newer technology even allows us to better establish the protectiveness of our equipment, with some products dropping the typical weight system and instead making something genuinely protective.
There are currently a number of brands pushing for change in the way boxing gloves are designed, including giants like Rival Boxing, Hayabusa, ONX Sports and, somewhat surprisingly, RDX. We’ve written a little about some of the more unique gloves on the market here, which is a legitimately interesting read.
For the purpose of this breakdown, I wanted to focus in on one pair of gloves, the latest release from RDX; the Icon 5. The brand have clearly but a lot of thought into the design, with a completely “wrinkle-free” design, optimising the amount of flat surface available. Their lace system is unique, even compared to the streamlined systems from brands like Rival and ONX. To top it off, the gloves have a system allowing you to insert either additional weight, or protection, in a way that has never felt so optimised, allowing you to truly customise your experience.
While RDX’s offering may never hit the mainstream, it’s this sort of forward thinking that leads to trends being carried forward into future products across the industry.
Several companies have tried to incorporate tech into boxing gloves, however due to the already high costs of boxing gloves, punch trackers have had more success as a separate product.
Being able to directly track your output during a training session is nothing but beneficial. You can just try and push yourself as hard as possible, or even track session with a heart rate monitor, but the rise of punch trackers has found a way to make the data sport specific, with clear evidence of progression between sessions.
Technology isn’t just being used to track how hard we’re hitting though, it’s also being used to track how hard we’re being hit.
Whilst more and more data is being collected and analysed with the goal of improving our lives through technology, we’re also gaining more and more insight into the impacts of our choices on our health. We’re now more aware than ever about the existence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (better known as just CTE) which has been linked to early onset dementia and alzheimer’s (among other serious medical issues) in people who take repeated blows to the head.
The latest innovation comes in the form of a mouthguard by SISU – well known for their groundbreaking ultra-slim mouthguards. Their latest creation is the SISU Sense, which incorporates an impact detection system to track the impact taken by the jaw and skull.
Having this information available for coaches can have a huge impact on a training camp for any fighter – If you take some serious hits in sparring or competition, you can see the data and alter your training to allow the correct recovery, allowing yourself to get back on track to being the best version of yourself. Even in competition, a mouthguard that can monitor impact would have a range of benefits. For example it can guide medical treatment of the fighters after the fights, helping to inform medical suspension durations to ensure that fighters aren’t getting back in the ring or cage too soon after taking concussive impacts.
Between punch sensors and impact sensors, we’re heading towards a world where we can see the consequences of combat sports, and allow the correct recovery for our athletes, in order to make ‘punch drunk’ fighters a thing of the past.
We’re heading into a world where we can keep an eye on every part of our training, from the support, protectiveness and adaptability of our fight gear, to the impact of strikes we dish out and receive, through the various trackers available.
As things change, it’s often impossible to predict exactly where the future will lead us, however the immediate future of combat sports in general looks very promising.
Now we want to ask you. What’s the best innovation you’ve seen in recent years? What changes do you expect to see in the future? Let us know in the comments, or as always, give us a shout on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.