As our boxing gloves online are some of our top selling products (and also because we love boxing and fitness), we thought we’d travel back in time to discover the history of these padded products and their evolution throughout time. We were surprised to find a rather interesting, brutal history!
The history of the boxing glove dates as far back as 30BC, although modern boxing gloves are a far cry from what was used in the beginning. The olympians of ancient Greece were the first to wrap leather straps around their hands to protect their knuckles during fights – these early boxing ‘gloves’ contained no form of padding and mainly aimed to protect boxers arms. In Roman times, the boxing glove was given a shake up with the addition of metal studs and spikes onto a hardened form of the leather straps. This increased the brutality of the sport immensely, leaving many match losers dead or permanently disfigured.
Image from imgarcade.com
The violence and tragedy associated with this brutal form of boxing ultimately led to it being banned in 393 AD. It took 1500 years for boxing to re-emerge and when it did, no boxing gloves were in sight. While the major boxing matches remained gloveless for many years, british boxing champion Jack Broughton introduced boxing gloves for practicing and informal matches in the early 1700’s. These gloves were very similar to the gloves we see today, with the addition of padding to protect the fragile bones of boxers hands while also securing boxers from the inconveniences of black eyes, broken jaws and bloodied noses.
Boxers were extremely reluctant to give up their bare knuckled fighting style and due to the large number of deaths caused by this form of fighting, boxing was once again banned in many places across the globe in the 1800’s. This era of bare knuckled fistfighting is largely responsible for the negative views people have regarding boxing in the modern age.
Padded boxing gloves finally made their way into competitive boxing in 1866 when the now famous Queensbury Rules were published in London. These rules laid out a number of strict guidelines to increase overall fairness and safety for boxing matches including the rule that all boxers must wear padded boxing gloves during matches. These rules became widely accepted and by the beginning of the 20th century bare-knuckle boxing had been eradicated from all established boxing events.
Today, boxing gloves are substantially heavier than their 2 ounce predecessors, now weighing anywhere between 8 and 16 ounces so as to reduce the risk of injury to both parties in a fight. The danger of fighting with unpadded gloves was revealed during a fight in 1983 where junior middleweight Luis Resto administered a brutal beating to previously undefeated opponent Billy Collins. It was later revealed that the padding had been removed with a tweezer from Resto’s gloves by his trainer Panamo Lewis. Lewis was charged with assault, conspiracy, tampering with a sports contest and most notably criminal possession of a deadly weapon – the weapon being ‘Restos fists’.