What Are Boxing Gloves?
Boxing gloves help to prevent injuries to both boxers by spreading the force the blow over a larger area than the bare fist alone and reducing the impact to the opponent. They also protect the knuckles of the boxers and the hand bones, particularly the 5th metatarsal also known as the hook of hamate. A fracture of this bone is commonly known as a boxers fracture.
Boxing gloves are not a new invention. They have been around for over 3,000 years having been handed down from the Greek Olympic sport to the Romans who used them in gladiatorial contests. The Greeks used a padded hardened leather strap; the Romans added to it resulting in crippling and often fatal injuries. This lead to a ban of the sport of boxing in 30 B.C.
Although in the 17th century boxing gloves were introduced they were only used in practice since the bouts were still being fought bare-knuckled resulting in fighters being crippled or killed. In the 19th century boxing gloves were made mandatory as part of the Marquis of Queensbury Rules adopted by boxing commissions. They have been part of boxing ever since.
All gloves are measured to the boxer- the bigger the boxer, the bigger the glove. Gloves have different weights to help the boxer work on the bag, train, spar, and compete. Typical glove weights in the United States are anywhere from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
Amateur boxing gloves have a white area on the back of the glove to help judges see the where the punches land more easily and help the boxers score points. They are usually red or blue.
Lighter gloves known as speed gloves are basically padded mittens that are used with the lightweight speed bag. This bag is not hit for greater force of impact, but to train the boxer on their speed. As such heavier gloves are not needed except to protect the skin over the knuckles of the boxer. They can also be used with the punching mitts to help a boxer work on their punching form or patterns.
Bag gloves are padded specifically to protect the hands and writs of the boxer due to the high and constant impact with the punching bags. They are designed to stand up to the heavy use during training, unlike those used in bouts. Durability and protection of the boxer is key in these gloves. They weigh typically between 8 to 16 ounces. These gloves are not used in sparring.
Training or Sparring gloves are designed to protect both the boxer and sparring partner from injuries. They are made from multi-layers of foam padding and heavier to protect the boxer and the sparring partner. They are heavier than competition gloves, weighing in from 14 to 20 ounces. Construction of these boxing gloves also focuses on durability so they can be used from day to day.
Competition or professional gloves are lighter in weight, often 8 to 10 ounces. Although very light they have specific construction requirements for the protection of both athletes and are constructed only of the highest grades of leather and foam padding.
The person training the boxer with their punches although not hitting back will wear punch mitts. This type of boxing glove was made for impact by the glove of the boxer into the hand of the trainer. There is no padding on the back of the glove as all the impact is taken into the palm of the punch mitt.
Boxing gloves aren’t only used in traditional boxing matches; they are also used in the martial art known as kickboxing. In this not only the feet are used to box but the hands as well.