Article by John Matich
To many, boxing is one of the most exciting sports of all. Two people enter the ring and slug it out, with nothing to rely on but their wits, technique, strength, and will. At once requiring the fitness of an ultra marathon combined with the reactions and strategy of speed chess – boxing is arguably the ultimate test for any solo athlete.
That’s why, even today, more and more people are looking to strap on the iconic gloves and test their mettle in the ring.
But for new boxers, aside from experiencing an assault on their fitness, one of the first things they realise is that boxing can be extremely taxing on the body. And I don’t just mean being punched.
No, one of the first things new boxers realise is that punching incorrectly and with the wrong protection can really hurt your hands and wrists.
This article will help you remedy that problem. For any new boxer looking to maximise their results in training, protect their hands and wrists from damage, and stay in fighting shape for the ring, this article will explain which gloves are best for beginners and why they matter. At the end of the article I give few recommendations about boxing gloves to buy.
Why gloves matter
As far back as Ancient Greece, boxers have used gloves to protect their hands. In many ways, they haven’t changed – with padding around the knuckles encased in soft leather.
This is for good reason:
No matter how beefy your fingers and wrists may be, there’s no getting around the fact that the forces created by boxing are not kind to your fists.
Even as a beginner, you’ll quickly learn this.
You jab is constantly being thrown forward alongside your stepping front foot, and with the pivot of your back foot, you whip your bodyweight up through your legs, hips, torso, and shoulders, launching your back hand forward towards the bag with the entire weight of your body behind it.
This happens constantly. Hundreds of times during training. And not only is your body mass a lot of weight to put behind your punch, but that punch is then connecting with a heavy bag or possibly the entire mass of a sparring partner.
The impacts of your blows are hard, not just on what (or who) you’re hitting, but on you.
And as force equals mass times acceleration, these blows only become harder the faster you get at executing good punching technique.
Now, stop reading for a moment and have a feel of the bones in your hands and wrist. They’re very, very small and very, very delicate.
They aren’t designed to take big impacts. Especially not hundreds of times a week.
This means that injuries in boxing are extremely common (and almost inevitable) without the right protection. And these injuries will quickly derail your progress.
So picking the right gloves doesn’t just matter, it’s essential. Here’s what you need to know to find the right pair for you…
What size gloves?
Boxing gloves come in a variety of sizes. These are displayed in ounces (oz), and an increase in size means an increase in padding. This means that your hands will be more protected when you punch, but your punches will also be slower.
The most common sizes are 10 oz, 12 oz, 14 oz, and 16 oz.
To be on the safe side, stick with 14-16 oz gloves to start with. Depending on what your trainer says, go to 12 oz or 10 oz gloves when you’ve developed better technique. Heavier gloves are also great for keeping your partners safe during sparring due to the extra padding.
Leather or vinyl?
Boxing gloves generally come in two materials, vinyl and leather.
While vinyl is cheaper, unless you’re going to fitness boxing classes which don’t have a lot of bag work/sparring, it’s not going to hold up to the number of punches you’ll be throwing.
It’s also got poor breathability, so when your hands get hot, the gloves will become uncomfortable, and, if poorly cleaned, will rapidly become unhygienic with bacteria.
Leather, on the other hand, while still needing to be regularly cleaned, is extremely durable, breathable, and moulds to your hand. This creates a comfortable and personalised fit that can stand up to all the boxing you can throw at it.
What is the best boxing glove for beginners?
Boxers have many different gloves that they use for training, but the best boxing glove for beginners will be a 16 oz leather bag glove. This will protect your hand, keep it comfortable, and will be suitable for all kinds of training – bags, pads, and keeping your partners safe during sparring.
While you can get this kind of glove in laced or Velcro variants, you should always go with Velcro as laced requires you to have someone else put them on. This is impractical and will become annoying during training. Bear in mind that after taking the time to wrap your hands, you’re going to want to get those gloves on fast.
How much to spend?
You don’t have to spend hundreds on boxing gloves to get the right pair, but you also don’t want to pay too little.
Cheap gloves are fine if you’re on a budget or only just getting a taste of boxing, but will rapidly degrade when used for regular training.
With that in mind, any beginner looking to get into boxing should look to spend more to get good quality leather boxing gloves that will last and support their training.
Here are my picks for the best beginner boxing gloves.
If you keep your hands secure in a good pair of gloves, you’ll be able to maximise your results from training. Couple them with good hand wraps and you’ll be able to push yourself to your limits with a much lower risk of injury.
Related article: Best boxing training equipment