It’s hard to imagine that people could ever have risked getting in the ring without essential boxing gear like boxing gloves. But from the rise of prize fighting in England in the 16th century, men would simply jump in the ring in their street clothes and unleash their fighting skills. Needless to say these early prize fights would leave the combatants soaked in blood from the uncushioned blows and even for those fast enough to avoid any major strikes, it was far from uncommon to break finger bones on the opponents skull, the infamous “boxer’s fracture“.
Essential Boxing Gear
The earliest modern gloves were introduced in the mid-1800 and were called mufflers. While somewhat more effective than bare knuckles for protecting the fighters, they had yet to become essential boxing gear and were used exclusively for training and exhibition matches.
In full-on prize fighting, they were considered unmanly and shameful, which comes as no great surprise in an era whose tactics included tips on how to get blood into your opponents eyes and where gouging, choking and biting were all considered as dirty play rather than anything worth disqualifying a fighter over.
After the Marquess of Queensbury introduced the famous Queensbury rules in 1867 the sport of prize fighting began to take the shape of the modern sport we know today and with it the essential boxing gear of the modern fighter began to develop.
- The modern glove, like all professional sporting equipment, has been developed over the years by sports companies anxious to gain every possible advantage for their users while staying within the requirements and boundaries of the governing bodies.
- For that reason you can today buy gloves designed exclusively for the competition fight, matching as close as possible the technical specifications permitted in the ring, as well as a variety of gloves designed for training purposes:
- “speed gloves“, which offer only the light protection needed for training on light bags,
- “bag gloves” which protect the hand from the much heavier strike needed on the heavy bag
- “Sparring gloves” which are used for training bouts in the gym or boxing club.
When choosing your own essential boxing gear it is of course vital to know which of these kinds of glove you’re going to need. It’s also worth thinking about quality as the bones of your hand are, as we’ve seen, easily broken. As in most sports, the most straightforward way to choose a quality product is to see what the professionals use, for example many of the greatest fighters of the last century used grant boxing gloves. But whatever you choose, just thank the Marquess of Queensbury for imposing boxing sports rules.