2012 Olympic Women Boxers

How to Choose the Right Pair of Boxing Gloves

Even if you are only boxing for fitness, you will need a decent pair of boxing gloves. But before you buy the first pair you find in the local sporting goods store, here are a few things you should consider.

Communal gym gloves reek. And they’re worn out.

There are plenty of people who use the communal gym gloves all the time and have for years, but I had trouble with the stink factor. I know that sounds terribly rich kid, and it is. But this is the kind of stink that simply does not wash off easily. I would wash my hands several times and still be able to smell that stink on me all day long. So I spent $30 on my first pair of gloves (see below).

There’s also a padding issue, which may not matter to you if you are under 30 years old, but the older you get, the more of an issue good protection for your hands becomes. This is especially true if you are a heavyweight, throwing bomb shots.

If you plan to box for long, good gloves are definitely worth the investment.

$30 Gloves will get you through for a while.

Everlast Boxing GlovesThe issue with the cheap gloves — in my case they were Everlast Pro Style Training Gloves (the exact pair in the picture on the left) — is that they don’t hold up very long. They are fine for starter gloves, but you can’t expect them to last.

If you go to the gym several times a week and use these gloves for a year they will begin to fail you. The padding will crush down, you’ll feel more pain, and you’ll start to see a difference in your performance because you’ll be holding back on your shots.

You will need to pay about $70 – $100 for good boxing gloves.

When my Everlasts wore out, I bought a pair of 14 ounce (many gyms will require 16 ounce) Pro Main Event gloves by FightGear (that’s what I’m wearing in the photo at the top of the post). They were $70 when I bought them, now they run about $85. These have held up much better than the Everlasts. You can order them online (although the LA Boxing website is not all that user-friendly) but I just purchased mine at an actual LA Boxing gym.

The gloves I really want are the Ringside Gel Shock Safety Sparring Gloves ($70), but last time I tried to order they were backordered so far that I never received them after waiting for months. Which is why I eventually bought the Main Events instead. But I’m pretty sure The Gel Shocks will be my next pair.

Here’s what the weight differences mean.

Most boxing gloves come in 12 ounce, 14 ounce, and 16 ounce weights. There are other sizes as well, but these are the three you’re likely to see most often.

The larger sizes offer more protection for your hands (as you land punches) and your face (as you defend against punches). To get used to working hard and fast with a pound of extra weight on each hand, you can purchase weighted gloves to wear when you aren’t sparring or on the bags. The sand-weighted gloves will not stand up to hard use, so use them for shadowboxing or other fitness exercises only.

If you compete in the amateurs you’ll usually wear 16 ounce gloves, which will often be provided by the promoter of the event. If you are competing professionally, you might wear lighter gloves. In both pro and amateur bouts, your wraps and gloves will be overseen and signed by an official.

Watch out for this sneaky tactic!

Sometimes boxers will try to use their lighter-weight, worn-out gloves when they spar so that they can inflict more damage on their opponent.

If you are about to get in the ring with someone who has to stop and change gloves into some ancient, tiny boxing gloves, you know what’s coming. I’ve been in the ring with a pro boxer who used 8 ounce gloves and every shot felt like a brick. I barely made it through 4 rounds, and I needed a week to recover.

If you are used to MMA fighting, you may be fine with this, but you should definitely be aware of it.

Laces or velcro?

Velcro, definitely, although lots of pro boxers will swear by lace-ups, which are much more classic and old school. But if you are boxing in the amateurs, or just training hard, you don’t want to have to ask someone else to make all your glove adjustments for you. Velcro enables you to put on, secure, adjust, and remove your own gloves.

The drawback to velcro is that the strips will often scratch your opponent’s face or arms as you spar. You’ll be scratched up from their gloves, too. But the solution to that is to get a pair of boxing glove cuff sleeves, which are simple elastic covers for the velcro. They run about $10.

Also, velcro does wear out eventually, and after a few years you may find that you are having to tape your straps down, which defeats the whole do-it-yourself thing. But by then it will probably be time for new gloves anyway.

The drawback to lace-ups, other than the fact that you can’t manage them on your own, is that if you have a loose lace, it can fly out and pop someone in the eye pretty good. The solution for that is usually to tape down the laces (although you can also use cuff sleves), which just means one more layer of stuff you can’t handle on your own.

Don’t forget your hand wraps.

You wrap your hands for basic protection in boxing. There are 27 little bones in your hands and they all need support. Boxers do break bones in their hands, although you’re more likely to suffer a sprain or general soreness.

Traditional boxing hand wraps are 15 feet or 180 inches long (don’t get the short wraps!) and slightly elastic. They usually close with velcro, and run about $6 per pair.

Hook the loop over your thumb and wrap your wrist and hand up to your knuckles. I go between my fingers and around the base of my thumb, too. It needs to be fairly tight because they will loosen slightly as you train. I’ve embedded a How to Wrap Your Hands video below, but everyone does it differently. Watch other boxers, try different styles. You’ll find your method.

Evergel hand wrapsFor a competition, you’ll need gauze wraps. Your trainer will wrap your hands for you using multiple rolls of lightweight boxing gauze, and an official will sign them. This is to prevent any tampering or weighting of your hands inside the gloves.

As a woman boxing over the age of 40, I go to special lengths to protect my hands. I used to cut a foam beer cozy into strips and tape the strips over my knuckles before wrapping. Now I use these fabulous  Everlast Evergel Classic Handwraps ($14) instead of traditional hand wraps inside my boxing gloves. You can see them in the photo to the right.

I love my Evergels, and they even go through the wash just fine.

Did I mention you should wash your wraps? Sigh. There are people who don’t. However, you can easily wash them in a lingerie bag. You need the bag because otherwise the velcro will stick to and potentially tear up other laundry, not to mention becoming wet, knotted hell unless they are contained.

One last secret.

Boxing gloves can work up a stink after years of hard use. One way to keep them dry and less of a breeding ground for bacteria is to fill a couple of long socks with cedar chips and stuff the socks into your gloves after you box.

They sell boxing glove dryers ($100!) but I’ve never invested in one. If you have the money, feel free, but the sock method works, too.

Although I have had people say my gloves smell like a gerbil cage. A fresh, clean gerbil cage, that is.

Image: Me at Decatur Boxing Gym in Atlanta, with my friend and sparring partner Justine.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

26 Responses to How to Choose the Right Pair of Boxing Gloves

  1. Sonja Foust July 28, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    At first I thought that said to stuff your boxing gloves full of cheddar chips. I’m glad it didn’t say that.

  2. Laura July 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    Ooohhh, I hadn’t heard the cedar chips thing. I’ll have to try that! I usually just open mine up when I get home and let them air dry… or put them by a fan. It’s been so long (a year now!) that I wonder if it would do any good at this point? It meaning the chips.

    I bought some pads to use when I cover fitness classes for Terri and they are gel shock absorbent something or other. They’re great. When I used extra pads from the gym my hands HURT afterwards. When I use mine they might feel a little funny because I’ve been tensing them (it’s hard not to when something hard is about to hit them) but it’s a lot better. I didn’t know they had those in glove form, too! I might have to pre order now so I can get them whenever I’m ready for new gloves.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe July 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

      Re: the year you’ve already had your gloves. Gerbil chips are never too late to begin to de-stinkify the gloves!

      • Lisa Creech Bledsoe July 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

        Feh! I said Gerbil chips. I meant cedar chips.

        I didn’t mean cheddar chips, either.

        I can see this could easily get out of hand.

  3. Amy Scheer July 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    You’re awesome. You answered all the questions I didn’t know I had.

  4. Amy Scheer July 30, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    Would these be equivalent to the gel shock you want?

    http://store.titleboxing.com/title-gel-revolution-training-gloves.html

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe July 31, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

      Nice work, Amy. I don’t think I had seen those before. I like those too, and they are the same price. I bet the two brands/styles are pretty similar.

      • Amy Scheer August 2, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

        Went to DIck’s today and tried on the everlast gel wraps, but they didn’t feel good, especially around my (big?) thumbs. Bought UFC MMA geltraining gloves instead…

        http://www.ufcstore.com/ufc-gel-wrap-glove/detail.php?p=58134&v=ufc_ufc_equipment_gloves

        (I *think* those are what I bought)

        …for a little cheaper, and used them tonight. They’re thicker but still fit in the gloves. I also tried out the smelly gym gloves tonight instead of my worn down bag gloves; the UFC gels and the Top Contender 12 oz served me well. Still considering a gel version though, as to not reverse the healing process in my elbow (thanks to a magical steroid shot last week).

        • Lisa Creech Bledsoe August 3, 2011 at 9:20 am #

          Good for you for finding a workable solution. Don’t forget, you can also up your padding (if you want to) by using 14 or 16 ounce gloves rather than 12 ounce.

          Btw, I loved your son’s final comment in the video post you did on your blog: “I. Want. The pump… If that is what’s good for me.” You get parenting chips for that!

          • Amy Scheer August 3, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

            Yeah, he didn’t want to even talk about pumps for awhile, so that right there is major.

            I’m still confused (and commenting so often because of the urgency of protecting my elbow). If I buy the 14oz gloves for myself, they would be for working the bags. When I spar, they’d be lacing me into the gym’s 16oz gloves no matter what I own.

            I thought I read that you want smallish gloves for bag work to practice sharper punches. Yet I need the padding, and I probably need practice with heavier gloves. I guess the question here is…your 14oz gloves: that’s what you use for bagwork AND sparring?

            • Lisa Creech Bledsoe August 3, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

              Hell, I’ve never had anybody tell me I had to use smaller gloves for anything. In my opinion (and from experience), they are only used to hurt someone worse, which is fine, but if you are going to spar/compete in 16 oz, train with 16 oz. And if you want as much padding as possible to protect yourself, use 16 oz.

              At the gyms I’ve been a part of (all five), everyone trained with their own gloves or the gym’s gloves, and nobody demanded any particular size for any particular task, although sparring with anything less than 14 ounce was frowned upon.

              • Amy Scheer August 3, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

                Okay. All very helpful; thanks.

                BTW, I checked out your “Hire Me” link. Impressive stuff there. I’d certainly hire you if I could!

  5. Hillari July 31, 2011 at 5:09 am #

    Great post! I sprained my right hand several years ago because I was using some thinly padded bag gloves. I didn’t realize the toll they were taking on my hands. I currently type for a living, so I have to be extra careful concerning my hands.

    Communal gloves are a trip to work with. It’s okay to have your own bag gloves, but for some reason that I can’t remember, people aren’t encouraged to have their own sparring and boxing gloves down at the gym. The kids’ boxing coach locks up a lot of the gloves, and other gloves have gone missing (walked). As a result, everybody is using the same set of gloves for sparring, and in some cases, bag work. I really don’t like putting my hands inside a set of sweaty sparring gloves that someone just took off.

    Another tip about hand wraps — people should wash them separately after using them the first time as opposed to putting them in with the rest of the wash. Fortunately, I did this with the first pair I owned, and discovered that the color bled. I would have been upset if I had put those in with the rest of my laundry.

    Your post also reminded me that I have to regularly clean all of the equipment I have. Sometimes, I revert back to high school when weeks went by before my uniform, socks and anything else was washed. . .(smile).

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe July 31, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

      So now I’m curious, Hillari: do you box with the communal gloves or do you have your own?

      And I’m with you on cleaning; it’s so easy to let it ride — but the stink generally reminds me to get the job done before too long! 🙂

      Btw, your most recent blog post is beautifully written. You’ve made such incisive comments about the way we view the inherent dangers of boxing; I had not thought of it quite that way before. And I didn’t know how seriously the sport was impacted by Paret’s death in the ring (technically, just after that knockout) back in 1962.

      Danger and forgiveness. What a powerful message. Reposting link here for those who get these updates via email: http://boxingdiva.blogspot.com/2011/07/danger-and-forgiveness.html

      • Hillari July 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

        Linda, thanks for the comments about my blog entry!

        I spar with the communal gloves at the gym, and wash my hands good afterwards. Now that there is a different coach at my gym, I don’t think he’ll mind if I eventually show up with my own sparring gloves. The boxing gloves I have at home are more for Muay Thai (I started boxing at a martial arts dojo initially, and I brought them there).

        During the amateur matches I have, there’s no choice but to use the communal gloves that the local boxing council provides; boxers aren’t allowed to use their own boxing gloves for fear of tampering.

  6. niamh August 6, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Great post! I second the never having heard of the cedar chip thing, and I love the idea of the gel-pads. In Thai gyms the washing of the wraps is part of the session, you know you’ve been there a long time when you join in and start looking for wires to hang the wraps over. In Ireland cause no-one lives at the gym you just hope people are washing theirs at home! I gave up buying gloves cause the gyms in BKK are so busy that people would borrow yours anyhow and stretch ’em so what was the point? My favs though were this one ancient brown pair with the frayed laces, totally useless but very cool!

  7. Girlboxing August 13, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    Terrific Lisa! Though I’m partial to the Everlast Amateur boxing gloves — 12 oz. size. They’re an easy on & off and hold there padding beautifully for a good year of heavy use. I also had a huge splurge one year and got a pair of handmade Shevlin 16 oz. gloves. They are terrific for the heavy bag, with fabulous padding and a remarkable fit. At a little over $100 bucks they didn’t break the bank either.

    As for wraps — I’m a “Mexican” wrap person. Extra-long with spandex, I’ve come to like the Title brand a lot and they are available in six-packs, plus a lot of fun colors. I’ll never quite get how folks can use the same pair over and over — and leave them hanging in the locker at the gym. It’s got too much eww factor for me. I also have a pair of leather glove wraps with foam padding that I use for the speed bag and the double-ended bag that I’ve had for at least 5 years that still provide incredible protection.

    I agree that community gloves can be a “germ” farm — though when you’re getting started, it’s a way of “trying-on” boxing without a huge financial commitment. And the ceder chips suggestion is AWESOME! I’m forever trying to invert the gloves before I put them in my locker which has about a ZERO effect!

    Again, great column!!!

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe August 13, 2011 at 10:56 am #

      Shevlin gloves! Wow, those are very special indeed. Everything custom and hand made, right there in NYC. (Did you get your name embroidered on them?)

      Anyone else on this thread: you can see the boxing products the Shevlin family makes on their site: http://www.shevlinboxing.com/ I’m not at all a fan of full-flash websites like this one, but be patient while it loads — the site is definitely worth a look around.

  8. Boxing Gloves November 12, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    Hey, found your article helpful, but i have a question. There are different gloves available in the market, which material you think is the best, found Leather, synthetic leather etc, which you think is good for a fighter ?

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe November 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

      No preference here. I focus less on the leather and more on the insides of the gloves, and the weight and fit.

  9. PunchyChef March 21, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    Hello Lisa, found your site via Google search (listed #1). I’m very very new (2 classes) to boxing and am surprised how much I’m enjoying working out.

    Initially I looked for classes for my 9 year old son who insisted I join too. Today was the first time I was shown how to punch and use the bags. Since my hands are the key to my livelihood I’m searching for the best protection I can for my hands. Thank you for the great detail and easy to understand (for the layman) what to look for in a set of gloves.

    I my one question would be…do I look for the same glove features (minus the weight) for my 9 year old? Thank you very much.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe March 21, 2012 at 11:53 am #

      Hi, PunchyChef, and welcome to boxing (and The Glowing Edge)! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.

      You’re totally on the right track with regard to gloves for your son — he needs solid protection, but won’t want 16 ounce gloves. Depending on how big he is, you can look into youth gloves, too.

      And if you’re like me, you won’t want to spend a lot of money until you’ve been doing it a few months and know a bit better what you really like in a boxing glove.

      How are you feeling after your first couple of classes??? Would love to hear how it’s going for you if you get a chance to share!

  10. Zia June 9, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    Hi guys, you need to shop around for whats best for YOU. Evaluate your needs as a fighter-Are you mostly doing sparring, bag work, or just all-around training gloves? These are some good questions to ask yourself starting out. Remember to shop around, and more importantly give yourself an honest evaluation on what your going to be using your gloves for.

    • Andrea Lurch March 16, 2017 at 1:05 am #

      What weight should beginner use

      • Lisa Creech Bledsoe March 16, 2017 at 8:11 am #

        The heavier they are, the more protection you’ll have, and the stronger they’ll make your arms. That’s why I like 14 or 16 ounce gloves for training.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes