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Why Are Boxing Gloves Padded?

Last Updated: 16.05.22


If you check out reviews of boxing gloves by Title you will quickly see a wide display of boxing gloves most of which have very good comments about their performance and realize that you also need punching bags (check out our review ) or some good kickboxing bags. Boxers will demand a lot of things from their gloves in order for them to be successful. They need to have a certain weight, a certain style and, of course, they need to be padded.

You might wonder why these needs are so specific. After all, boxers need to just hit things, right? Well as it turns out, there’s a scientific approach involved in the world of boxing and we’ve done our research to shed some light on it for you. Keep reading to find out some more secrets.


Before we had gloves

Boxing is widely recognized as one of the most widely known combat sports in the world and is practiced worldwide. It has lived through the rise and dawn of whole eras, with the first forms of boxing being recorded in ancient Greece. The Greeks also invented the first forms of protection, as the fighters’ hands were tightly wrapped in rawhide.

To be fair, this was also another form of causing injury to the opponent, but to each his own. The style of gloves we use today was introduced in 18th century England where the sport really gained recognition and popularity. However, the Englishmen still only used the gloves for training, preferring to fight bare-knuckle.

It wasn’t until the Queensbury Rules in 1867 that boxing gloves were made a requirement for every match. Nowadays, the International Boxing Association approves new glove designs based on specifics about weight and the amount of leather, padding, and support that is allowed.

As you can see, one of the main reasons that boxing gloves are padded is to offer protection for both fighters and there are very strict rules regarding this. One does not simply place an endless amount of padding inside a glove.



How do the gloves work?

Unlike other martial arts, boxing is very restricted in its moves, only allowing fist strikes. Since there’s no need to block or catch leg kicks like in Muay Thai for instance, boxing gloves are a lot less padded than the ones used for that sport. Muay Thai fighters will often parry, catch and block powerful hits so more padding is needed to protect their hands from injuries.

MMA gloves, on the other hand, have holes so the fighters can grab and use their movements to take their opponent to the ground and gain control. None of these things are found in boxing.

The limited moves mean boxers have to endure an incredibly high intensity of strikes to the body and to the head. Gloves also solved another problem presented by bare-knuckle fighting, where opponents could always break their bones or use eye gouging to gain an advantage.

Since they fit around the hand and naturally form a fist shape, they offer protection over the back of the hand as well as the fingers and the thumb. The thumb specifically is very well protected, with some gloves simply using a sort of string to keep it tight while others completely wrap around it in order to deny movement while punching.

Due to this, the padding reduces the intensity of the impact on both the puncher’s hand and the opponent’s head. This became a measure that greatly increased the safety in a sport where bruises, bloody eyes, and even broken bones were something very common.

However, while helpful for somewhat minor wounds, gloves still hardly diminish the impact punches have and the resulting brain injuries and concussions. Even though you would think the padding would reduce some of the sudden shocks to the head, it doesn’t and let’s explain why: how safe would you feel punching a wall without your hand being protected? Not very safe, right?

Now imagine you get the best hand protection in the world. You would feel a lot more comfortable and you would hit the wall a lot harder. The same principle applies in this scenario, as gloves made boxers hit harder without fear of injuring themselves or their opponent.


Protection for the hands

The faster you can throw a punch, the better you will be in the ring, which is why many boxers usually shadow box without wearing gloves. In sparring, however, it’s very important to use heavier padded gloves in order to maximize protection for them and their opponent. Since sparring is more about technique and not strength, the force of the hits is not as important.

Larger gloves will naturally offer more protection than smaller gloves. The explanation for this is because impact force is the amount of force spread over a given time period. Thus, the more time it takes for a punch to deliver its whole force, the less force is applied every second. Padding increases the duration of a strike and reduces the impact its target feels.

Bigger gloves also have the advantage of surface, since this also spreads out the force of a punch. If you would hit somebody as hard as you can with a naked fist, you would do more damage over a smaller area as opposed to using a boxing glove where the damage would spread over a larger one.

Since professional boxers know all about this, gloves are typically spread into training and match gloves. Training ones have more padding while ring ones are smaller and harder in order to maximize the force of the impact.



Can you only pad the gloves?

In order to get some extra protection, boxers will usually have their hands padded as well during both training and fighting. The hand wrap is an essential part of any boxing equipment since it supports the wrist, knuckles, hands, and joints. Because it helps with distributing the after-punch shock through your hand, the wrap is basically an addition to the padding in the gloves.

The most common injuries when lacking this are metacarpal instability, which will lead to sprains more often than not and “Boxer’s Knuckle”, which simply put is a tear of the sagittal band found in the knuckle.

This is especially important for beginners since they haven’t mastered the proper punching technique yet and thus they can get injured more easily. For instance, an intense workout can keep you out of the gym for a few weeks if your knuckles get injured or, worse, fractured. Dense padding coupled with hand wraps will allow you to perform most of your workouts pain-free.

Wrist stabilization is something very important in boxing. While in daily life we like our wrists to be free, you want to keep them as stable as possible during training and matches to prevent hyperextension. This will minimize the risk of excessive flexion that can happen when punching at an awkward angle, which is sometimes possible during matches or when training.

Padding and wrapping will also help you in filling out your gloves. For the same reason that you wear socks with shoes, your hand should feel comfortable but tight in a boxing glove. This will help you achieve great stability and security and also upgrade your in-ring game.




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