The rise of box-fit classes in the past few years has been unstoppable with dedicated boxing fitness studios giving everyone the chance to release some stress on the heavy bag. White collar boxing, where plucky amateurs enter the ring is also a popular trend. But even if you don’t want to fight like Anthony Joshua, there’s something about going at it Rocky style that really appeals to our busy modern minds. And whether you’re boxing to fight or just to get fit, a good set of gloves is as essential as a Muhammad Ali quote on your wall.
When you’re buying a gloves it’s important to think about how you’ll use them. There are specific gloves for fighting, sparring (“free-form” training fighting with enough rules to avoid injury) or training with variations in weight, padding and size. So you need to consider if you’re planning to hammer the heavy bag, work up a sweat on the pads or step into the ring to spar? Or all of the above.
For most people a set of training gloves will be the best option. These all-rounders can be used for all your boxing training including bag work and sparring.
Bag gloves are designed to be used working the heavy bags or pads and have less padding than boxing gloves and if you’re serious about your boxing training, you might want to invest in a pair specifically designed for this but in most cases, training gloves will do the trick.
Sparring gloves are essentially training gloves with additional padding. The majority of people will spar using a 16oz glove or heavier. Finally, fighting are lightest and least padded. The weight of gloves you wear in a proper fight is governed by weight and this is checked by fight officials to ensure your gloves are fight standard.
When it comes to choosing a size, boxing gloves are ordered by size in ounces ranging from 10oz to 20oz. Most beginners start with a heavier glove as these provide more padding and protection and then work their way down as they progress. However, the glove you choose also depends a lot on your own weight. Lighter boxers tend to wear lighter gloves.
Other key things to consider are the material the gloves are made from. Leather is commonly used and is harder wearing, though synthetic alternatives tend to be cheaper.
There are two main types of wrist strap, Velcro and lace ups. Lace ups are more traditional and can provide a more locked-in forearm fit but you also need someone else to lace them up correctly. Velcro are easier to put on and off and are the best bet for beginners. The Velcro systems vary a lot between gloves but they play a big role in adding protection and support. Not to mention you need to be able to get the gloves on and off easily.
Finally, ventilation for the hands is also a big factor. Hands can get very sweaty in some gloves so the more breathable the better. Some gloves also have antibacterial treatments inside to help ward off nasty odours that build up.
We put the latest boxing gloves to the test, judging them on comfort, protection, durability and price. Here’s our pick of the best.
Venum Elite Boxing Gloves, from £57.16, Amazon
Sizes: 8oz - 16oz
Material: Skintex leather
These gloves have been completely handmade in Thailand with 100 per cent Skintex leather (which is a high quality imitation leather making it suitable for vegan pugilists). The Venum Elite offers a triple density foam, which serves to minimise shock and reduce the stress on your arms whenever you make impact. There’s a mesh panel underneath the fist to improve thermal regulation and of all the gloves tested, these were the least sweaty.
The long Velcro cuffs and the fact the thumb is also fully attached to the glove, are both helpful for injury prevention. Plus, that matte black finish is all kinds of menacing.
Hayabusa T3 Kenpeki, £140.00, Hayabusa
Sizes: 12oz - 16oz
A vintage worn look, luxury feel and 100 per cent full grain leather construction makes this our premium pick. The T3 Kanpeki glove is ideal for bag, pads and sparring and is available in 12oz, 14oz and 16oz weights. There’s a complex 5-layer foam inside the glove and four levels of splinting down the back of the hand hand.
While boxing is the ultimate sport of blood and sweat, Hayabusa also has hygiene in mind. The glove has an antimicrobial lining that helps to combat the stench caused when sweat and bacteria tango. Finally, the DualX Velcro wrist straps offer support and protection without the need for a partner to lace ‘em up for you.
Everlast Leather Pro 3, £39.99, Sports Direct
Sizes: 14 - 16oz
Everlast has been making great boxing gear for well over a century. This pick offers a full leather construction with a full wrap-around wrist strap for additional support and security. It’s lined with the Everdri tech to keep hands free from moisture, while the outer mesh ensures air is able to get in and out. They’re padded with C4 Closed Cell Foam tech which adds to the sense of comfort, and protection when striking the heavy bag.
RDX S8 Nova Tech, £120, Rdxsports
Sizes: 12 or 16oz
Material: Synthetic leather
The fight game hasn’t evolved that much in terms of styles or technique, but the equipment is finally taking a look towards the future. RDX has launched the first ever wrinkle-free boxing glove. If you’re wondering why that’s important – it’s not a button-up shirt, after all – RDX says no-wrinkle leather ensures a more natural hand position and equal distribution of padding without resistance.
These fighting gloves are handcrafted using vegan-friendly leather, which the company says is more expensive and tougher than real cow hide. RDX has also added a new hook-and-loop system it says will align your first with your wrist to assist with proper punching technique and fluency of striking.
The glove’s Cool-X mesh system is also combined with sweat-wicking and antimicrobial inner lining, ensuring hot air is pushed out and warm air is allowed in.
Lonsdale Pro Training Gloves, £14.99, Sports Direct
Sizes: 10oz - 16oz
Material: Synthetic leather
If you’re looking for an affordable pair of gloves for heavy bag training, as part of a wider fitness routine, these might be the answer. They’re designed for protection, durability and dexterity, meaning they should last a long time, withstand your fiercest strikes and help you stay injury free while delivering them.
The M Core ventilation panels aim to ensure good air flow, while the L Core layered foam padding helps to absorb shock, while reducing impact on the joints when throwing those lefts and rights. The synthetic leather gloves also have a hook and loop closure to keep them in place.
A1 Fightgear Red Haze Boxing Gloves, £59.98, A1 FightGear
Sizes: 10oz - 16oz
If you’re an old-school pugilist, you might opt for the lace-up version of this eye-catching glove that’s produced with full-grain cowhide. For those seeking a convenient means of gloving and de-gloving those fists of fury, the Velcro gloves are a better shout.
Precision is the name of the game here, with A1 talking up the layered combination of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), latex, and closed cell foam that distorts to fit the fighters hand, offers a consistent structure and shape and provides a soft feel when landing blows. The wrist foam is a sturdy EVA, while the outer piping offers a clean finish due to a stitch, fold, stitch technique.
Titan Velocity, £79.99, Titanboxing
Size: 12oz - 16oz
A relative newcomer on the scene, UK-based glove-maker Titan’s first pair of boxing gloves is the Velocity, which have been hand-crafted with thick-cut leather and high-end foams. Marketed as a training partner, they offer a lace-up style fit in a Velcro-fastening glove. It features multi-layered foam padding that you expect from all high-end gloves, delivering support and protection with plentiful feedback. They’re available in two colours: the midnight black with gold trim is nice, but we prefer the polar white. Though don’t blame us if they don’t stay white for long.
Verdict: Boxing gloves for all-rounders
If you’re a beginner, amateur or someone looking to invest in a single pair of gloves that’ll cover most purposes, offer good protection, a comfortable fit and keep you hands dry, pound for pound the best option is the Venum Elite.
For more serious fighters, the RDX S8 offer the best cutting edge features. If style and looking great while you sweat at your box-fit class is your number one goal, then Hayabusa’s combination of looks and technical smarts are hard to beat.