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Boxing Glove Evolution
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Boxing Glove Evolution

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Boxing Glove Evolution

The humble boxing glove is something that a lot of combat athletes take for granted, but its history has helped shape the cutting edge products on the market today.  From the bareknuckle era to the 21st century, an exploration of boxing glove evolution gives us a better appreciation for the technology we use at the gym and in the ring every day.

Boxing started as a bareknuckle sport, but gloves have existed since the 18th century.  While the prizefights of the era were gloveless, sparring was practiced with large, pillowy gloves.  They were constructed like normal fingered gloves with oversized padding covering the back of them.  These “mufflers”, as they were called, were used during training in the academies of London and in the sparring rings of the city boxing arenas of the early 19th century.  Bareknuckle prizefights, while carrying all of the prestige, were effectively illegal, whereas sparring exhibitions with mufflers were tolerated at venues such as The Fives Court on St Martin’s Lane.  These large, unwieldy hand covers, were the beginning of boxing glove evolution. 

boxing glove evolution

As the magistrates and police continued to crack down on prizefighting, the Marquis of Queensberry Rules began to take hold of boxing.  Aside from the reorganisation of rounds, the biggest change was the use of gloves in the competitive arena.  These gloves were really just a nod to the requirements of the late 19th century, as they were little more than a thin leather mitt.  Weighing around 4oz, just like modern MMA gloves, they looked more like thin bag gloves, rather than the boxing gloves we are all familiar with today. 

The boxers of the era fought in a style that was more akin to bareknuckle pugilism, but as the sport evolved, so to did the gloves.  In the very early 20th century, gloves were still flimsy and thin for fights, and large for sparring.  As punches got harder and techniques perfected, the gloves used for fighting began to become more like those used for sparring.  The thinner gloves were seen more as gloves for hitting the bag with, and so the bag glove was born. 

boxing glove evolution

Through the 20th century, the big puffy gloves began to become more like the modern glove we are all familiar with, including grip bars and attached thumbs.  The biggest change to affect boxing glove evolution was the introduction of synthetic foam.  As gloves got bigger towards the middle of the last century, they began to slim down again in the latter half.  Foam, being denser than cotton, straw and wool (and whatever else glove makers had to hand), allowed gloves to become smaller, without the loss of padding, protection and weight. 

The modern glove, is a high tech piece of gear.  With lace-up, velcro and competition variants, the boxing glove has evolved yet again.  At the cutting edge of this are the Revgear S3 and S4 Sentinel Pro Boxing Gloves. Made with SOFTech™ leather, Rev-Tech Gel™ and RAM-Force™ Technology Padding, the S3 is the best velcro glove in the business.  The S4 glove is the perfect lace-up, with premium leather construct and multi-layer gel padding.  The main advantage that they have over the competition is that they are sculpted for a perfect fist, allowing you punch with confidence. 

From mufflers to the S3 and S4, boxing gloves have gone through a lot of changes over the centuries.  What lies ahead is uncertain, as new materials change the game time and again.  What is certain, is that Revgear will always make sure to be at the forefront of the industry.

Tom Billinge Tom has been training in Muay Thai gyms around the world for around 15 years and is a qualified Muay Thai instructor. He has lived in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Tom is a native of England, but based in the USA. When he's not kicking or holding the pads, Tom is either deep into writing an article, exploring the world or connecting with fellow martial artists.

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