Let me preface this by saying that aside from writing for a quality combat sports equipment retailer in Fightstore Pro, I am also a professional fighter with international MMA experience, as well as K-1 and boxing bouts to my credit. This isn't a boast or futile appeal to authority, just hopefully a reminder that I have had my hands in many gloves over the years, and know how important it is to keep your hands safe when you're punching people in the head.
I remember first walking into a Muay Thai gym around 18 years ago and a boxing gym the year after that. The boxing gym in particular was not in an affluent area, nor were the kids frequenting it, so it was a case of stick on whichever sweaty mitts you could find in the communal bin. Torn, tattered and stinking, it didn't matter so much when you were unfamiliar with generating power through the punches and your bones could handle it. As you get older, stronger and more powerful, that changes quickly. Ultimately, the hand isn't particularly well constructed as far as being a bludgeoning tool goes so you have to do your best to equip them for the job.
I am also a coach and I wouldn't put articles out to the world wide web that I didn't believe in as I know how impressionable new starters can be. Let's face it, if I put a funky technique video on YouTube and along with it said that the best thing to do to toughen your hands was rub them in dog shit, then for sure there'd be some suspicious smells making their way into gyms around the country.
That's not because I am influential, but because newcomers often have very little frame of reference and believe what they are told moreso than an experienced campaigner; much like a child trusts their parents wholeheartedly when they are young, for better or for worse. I could go on a tirade about irresponsible gym owners and coaches that are chancing it to exploit people for money, but that's a discussion for another day.
Today's discussion is about getting decent boxing gloves
and what to look for, so let's crack on with that.
Buy cheap, buy twice
It's an old adage that (usually) rings true when it comes to buying quality training equipment. Another one is, 'If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is'. I'm not saying you have to spend hundreds of pounds on every set of gloves you buy, but investing the maximum amount you can afford will reap better rewards. A good set of mid-range gloves will last longer than two or three awful pairs that you picked up for £6.99 down at Sports Direct. Not only that, it'll save you a few beatings. Why, I hear you ask? Because the cheap vinyl that cuts and scrapes, and the poor padding that means your knuckles poke through? People aren't going to like that and they will hit you harder if they repeatedly fall victim to it.
The absolute rock bottom of the price range are always going to be dire but that doesn't mean you can't get well constructed gloves on a reasonable budget. For example, Fightstore Pro has Carbon Claw
which are just as good as many gloves I've seen that are twice their price tag. That's a rarity though, so they're definitely a brand I'd recommend if the purse strings are a little tight.
See the patterns
At your boxing, Muay Thai or MMA gym, what are the guys that have been training 20 years wearing? What are the gloves people are always complaining about that have no durability or longevity? Quality will leave clues, such as still being in someone's gym bag day in, day out after years of use, and having experienced guys repeatedly buying their products because they know they're good bang for the buck. If in doubt, ask. The veteran in the corner might look ugly and mean but I'm sure he's friendly really.
Find a brand that fits
This will come with some trial and error, but every glove manufacturer will tend to have a slightly different take on sizing. Some are wider than others for example, so that narrow hand of yours that is good for finding ten pence coins down the back of sofas will not have much fun bouncing around in a glove that is far too spacious. If you find a glove that works for you, stick with it.
Know your anatomy and your sport
Do you have knuckles prone to swelling? Look at a glove with knuckle heavy padding. Bad wrists? Find the supportive wrist straps and longer gloves. Punch like a flailing moron on a Saturday night outside the Red Lion? Think about thumb loops to stop you damaging your thumb. If you're a big lump, look at upping the size to 18oz, but even for smaller guys I would never recommend going any lower than 14oz for the sake of your training partners. Don't be that guy. That guy is a dick.
You can also factor into this what type of combat sport you are doing. Muay Thai guys tend to prefer a slimmer glove to help when clinching, though for boxers that's not as much of a consideration. Again, see what the experienced guys in the gym are using, take some advice and then look to spend your hard earned cash. Jumping in to buying boxing gloves without the research might see you end up lucky, but it might see you throwing your money down the drain.
There are several other factors that can come into hand and wrist injuries from punching, including hand wraps, technique and just pure bad luck sometimes. However, don't discount your gloves in this regard. If you have bad knuckles that are prone to pain, sensitivity or even breaking, you'll have cater f0r that with plenty of padding up front. If you've got weak wrists that seem to take a lot of the brunt of the compression, wrap them well but also find a glove with extra support for that area.
Share the load
This comes later on the list because I'd feel cheeky suggesting that you buy even more sets of gloves right off the bat. However, personally I have a set that I only ever use for hitting pads and bags, and then another pair I use solely for sparring. I don't use the actual "bag gloves" because I don't feel they offer enough protection, though that's personal preference, so I have two pairs of 16oz. The ones I use for sparring don't get bent out of shape and lose all of their stuffing by hitting the bag so they can serve their purpose in live rounds for much longer. You can buy bag gloves if you desire, some people much prefer them and they can help keep the wear off your sparring gloves thereby keeping them safer. Again, that's up to you but remember your hands need that protection - no hands, no boxing.
Take care of them
I'm advising you to buy gloves on the upper end of your budget because they'll be much more useful, last longer, and therefore be more economical. If you're just going to let them rot then you might aswell buy a pair of two week wonders and keep going through them, pair after pair. Do your best to look after the gloves and they'll look after you and your sparring partners too.
The good thing about Fightstore is that they have the customer at heart and very knowledgable people who are more than happy to help. If you're struggling then pick up the phone or head into the Newcastle store to get some advice. Check out Alex talking about Cleto Reyes
Check out their range of boxing gloves
If there are any other topics you'd like to see covered on the blog, give me a shout on Facebook and Twitter.