My very first pair of gloves still hangs on my gym wall. They were very cheap--and pink--and the thumb of the right hand has pretty much fallen off--actually, they're the Everlast gloves hanging on the heavy bag in the background picture. I bought the cheapest pair that I could find until I figured out if I was actually going to stick with this boxing thing. They served me very well until I got a little power behind my punches, and one fateful Saturday when we were sparring, a sparring partner's face took the thumb right off with my signature hook.
After that, I went looking for what I should actually know about buying a pair of gloves. I asked all around the gym, and I mostly got shrugs. Almost all of the pros were MMA, and I was way too intimidated to approach the most serious and pro boxers--plus they didn't speak much English, and my Spanish is broken, so that just added to the intimidation: "Hey, let me use my extremely broken Spanish to ask a favor of you during our first time ever speaking." While I would learn later that those were the nicest, most professional men in the gym, and by far would become my favorite training partners and feel like family, I was new then and still throwing up or having diarrhea on the way into the gym from nerves from being one of two females in this best gym in Indy, and seriously not knowing how I had made that team.
So if you're new, or looking around for suggestions on your new gloves, let me save you a little time and money on experimentation by telling you what I've learned in the years since then.
Glove Types and Weights
First, you need to know that there are different weights of gloves. Most coaches require that your gloves are at least 14 oz. to spar in, depending on your weight class. I always purchase 16 oz. because I am a very heavy hitter for my weight, occasionally throw body shots I don't control as well, and no matter who's gym I'm in, the coach will let me spar in 16 oz. Gloves do come in up to 18 oz. Especially if you are a heavy weight, you should check in with your coach first to make sure that he or she isn't going to require 18's for you. If your coach doesn't require them, then I would not choose these. The extra weight difference is larger than you might think, and the size of the gloves alone can throw off your hand positioning, aim, and tension in the shoulders if you keep practicing using gloves that are too large.
When you're talking about just practicing on the bag, a standard size is either 12 or 14 oz. If you practice with a slightly heavier glove, then you'll feel like you're on fire with your speed when it comes time to slip into those 8 or 10 oz. competition gloves! The extra weight comes from more padding on the hand. This extra padding protects your own hand as well as your teammate's face. The lighter the glove, the less protection your teammate's face has from your bare knuckle. This is why regularly checking how worn down sparring gloves have become is just as important as getting the right weight to begin with.
There are different kinds of gloves as well. First, there are "bag gloves". These generally have a looser thumb that is not stitched to the hand, and they are often a lighter weight. They also usually just have Velcro around the wrist for easily taking them on and off, as opposed to lacing that can be pulled much tighter around the wrist during sparring. The Machina gloves pictured above (in blue and grey) are bag gloves. The ones pictured below are two types of Ringside sparring gloves. One uses lacing to ensure the tight fit on the wrist, the other uses a large elastic that flips up or down over the Velcro closure. The lacing is wonderful...but it takes two people and a lot longer to get them on. Most coaches won't care that you have two separate types of gloves, so I would get a good feel for sparring before you begin purchasing a more expensive sparing glove. However, your sparing partners would most definitely care if your gloves are worn out. For that reason, I would still own two pairs if you are financially able: one that you practice in all the time, and one pair that you save for hitting your partner with.
You may have noticed the two brands that I chose to show were Ringside and Machina. Yes, I did this because those are the brands that I by far recommend. I am a huge fan of Ringside gear. I feel like everything that I've purchased from them has been of great quality and withstood the very rough tests of training time.
However, for gloves, I now only purchase Machina for myself. This is the first brand for women who didn't just "shrink it and pink it", although no other brand seems to
have remembered the ever important "shrink it" part of that statement. As I said before, I'm often asked to wear 16 oz. gloves when sparring, and I prefer to train in 14 oz. However, according to the charts on Ringside gear, my very small hands only really fit their 10 oz. gloves. And they are correct. I have had more sessions on bags and in sparring than I can count where my gloves kept slipping off, or even flying off in a few cases. There was even one amateur competition where they had to tape my gloves onto my hands to keep them on. I wish I was kidding. I have never had any problems with Machina fitting, and they're a comparable price with Ringside gear. So if you're a small, average, or even just anything less than gigantic sized woman, Machina is the only way to go.
The last thing you need to be familiar with is that there are different materials to decide from when it comes to both the insides and the outside of your gloves. There is just nothing like real leather gloves in my book. They do take a little more care, and you need to know that they stretch, so they need to be a little tight when you first buy them. However, they hold up to the test of time a lot better with even the slightest care. I am known for not being particularly good to my equipment, and still the Velcro generally wears out long before the glove on my leather gloves. When it comes to the synthetic material, it's a lot easier to clean, but the blood still will stain all the stitching and cloth around the wrists, so if you're truly boxing, there isn't a good way to keep gloves really looking new...but who would want that anyways? Don't you want to portray being battle tested and experienced?
The inside of the gloves have several options as far as materials as well. However, most gloves either don't mention the inside material, or they say that they are gel. I hear that the gel feels great--for a few weeks or months at most. They do wear down very quickly though, especially if you (or your coach demanding it) are prone to doing a lot of push-ups in gloves. I would, at the very least, definitely only use gel gloves on a bag, not on a person.
Below I've linked several recommendations that fit all that's been discussed above. If nothing else, hopefully they will give you a good idea of where to start your search for the perfect glove. Gloves are like shoes. The more that you use your pair, the more they begin to mold to your hand and become a part of you, an extension of your body. It's important to find the right fit for you.
Machina Genuine Leather 12 oz. Practice Gloves
Machina Genuine Leather 14 oz. Practice Gloves
Machina Victoria Sparing Gloves 16 oz.
Ringside Apex Boxing Training Gloves Gel Sparring Punching Bag Mitts
Ringside Women's IMF Tech Boxing Training Gloves Sparring Punching Mitts
Ringside Apex Flash Sparring Gloves, 16 oz.
Ringside Youth Safety Sparring Gloves