Women in boxing have come a long way in the past few decades. Once an undertaking for only the brave few — like the groundbreaking Christy Martin, who fought on undercards of fights by the likes of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield in the early ‘90s —women’s boxing now flourishes at both the professional and amateur level. It’s a summer Olympic event. Stars like Holly Holm can even translate highly decorated boxing careers into MMA success. Which, in turn, inspires the next generations of hopefuls, future stars, and weekend warriors.
This means that more women than ever before are taking up boxing — and looking for the right boxing gloves and gear to allow them to reach their full potential. While women’s boxing gear has also come a long way, though (AWMA has a great selection, for example), chances are that a woman who is looking to take up boxing or upgrade her gear is still going to have to do a little more research to find the right fit for her than her male counterparts.
To make that process a little easier, we’ve put together some tips to help you chose the gloves that will best fit both your hands and your needs, whether you’re a future pro, a potential amateur, or someone who’s just looking for a new form of exercise. Here’s our shopping guide to the best women’s boxing gloves:
What type of boxing training will you be doing?
The type of glove you’ll need will depend on what you’ll be doing with them. If you’re looking strictly at boxercise or something like Tae Bo, any glove that adds some weight for resistance purposes will do the trick. You can either use gloves designed specifically for aerobic purposes (which do have some padding but haven’t been specifically designed for striking things) or a regular pair of boxing gloves. If you’re going to be hitting something with your boxing gloves, though, you’ll need to get more specific.
If you’re working primarily with heavy bags, you’ll want a pair of bag gloves, which are more geared toward protecting your knuckles against constant wear and tear on the bags. Some bag gloves will also provide some wrist support. For proper boxing training, with the potential for sparring at some point, you’ll want to look for training gloves. These have been designed to endure regular work on bags, pads, and in sparring, and will protect both your hands and our opponent’s face and body. If and when you start considering competition, then you’ll have to get a pair of fight gloves, which are strictly for use in the ring.
How frequently will you be training?
Assessing your level of commitment to boxing and the frequency with which you will train will also help you decide which gloves are right for you. If you’re just starting out or plan to train casually, a pair of vinyl gloves should be perfect for your needs. They’re not as breathable or as durable as leather, but they are very reasonably priced and easy to clean. If you’re sure that you’re serious about boxing — or if you find that you love training even more than you expected and become more serious about it — then it’s likely worth investing in a pair of leather gloves. They’re more expensive, and they do run the risk of stretching over time, but they’re of excellent quality, they breathe, and they last so much longer than their synthetic counterparts.
Selecting your size.
Boxing gloves come in different weights, ranging from 6oz-18oz. Which gloves are best for you will depend on your training and your goals. Lower weights are generally used for competition. 10z gloves are excellent for speed training, as well as aerobics. 12-14 oz gloves are good for sparring and pad work, offering a weight that protects your knuckles and wrists without prematurely exhausting your arms. The heaviest boxing gloves, which are great for larger boxers and for bag work, offer a significant amount of protection while improving muscular and cardiovascular endurance. Beginners will probably looking for boxing gloves somewhere in the middle range of these options. Ideally, you’ll begin with something heavy enough to protect your hands and wrists while they adapt to the demands of boxing while being light enough so as not to overwhelm you while you’re still developing your boxing arms. Exact weight and size will depend on the individual.
Trial and error.
Finding the perfect boxing gloves is, in a way, a lot like learning boxing. You’re probably going to make some mistakes and learn a lot along the way. Different brands can have slightly different sizing. Some materials stretch more than others, meaning the fit will change over time. Your priorities and comfort level with different gloves might also evolve as you do. The best thing that you can do is wrap your hands, try on as many different boxing glove options as possible, and select the gloves that feel best for you at the time. Once you know what can kind of boxer you are and what you want, the boxing glove selection process will get a lot easier.