Protective Gear 101: The 5 Must-Have Essentials for Boxing

Protective Gear 101: The 5 Must-Have Essentials for Boxing

In a sport where the goal is to punch your opponent to the point where he cannot continue fighting, training safely is paramount. This is why protective gear is used in boxing. Firstly, boxing gloves were created to protect the hands of the puncher and gradually more and more equipment was introduced to minimize the injuries of the brutal sport both in competition and in the training room.

Today, the quality of protective gear allows many people to enjoy boxing safely and suffer drastically less damage than they would otherwise.

Regardless of whether you are a weekend warrior, an amateur, or even a professional boxer, there are a few essential pieces of boxing gear you will need to have in your gym bag.

1. Mouthguard

I shudder at the thought of all the lost teeth before the early 1900s when boxers started using mouthguards. The mouth guard is an essential piece of protection mandatory in the gym or in a fight, and it helps protect your mouth in multiple ways.

First and foremost, it absorbs the impact into its entire surface, preventing teeth from being knocked out. Then it prevents the teeth from rattling against each other, which is not only unpleasant but can easily chip a piece. Mouthguards also almost completely removed lip lacerations and tongue damage from teeth.

The great effectiveness of mouth guards in boxing in the first half of the 20th century saw this piece of protective equipment adopted by dozens of other contact sports with a high chance of dental injuries like football, basketball, rugby, soccer, and many others, not to mention all other martial arts.

Aside from professional dentist-made ones, consumer mouthguards are put in boiling water and then molded into the mouth, making them customized to each person and hence highly effective. This also makes the mouth guard personal use only. You don’t want to be sharing this with anyone!

My personal recommendation would be Impact Mouthguards who do both custom and standard commercial guards – Learn more about their products here.

Or you can check out my top 10 mouthguards blog here.

2. Boxing gloves

Boxing gloves superare

The second essential piece of equipment you absolutely must have if you train in boxing is boxing gloves. They are not only symbolic for boxing but also determine all the specifics and essence of the sport because they change the way you punch and defend against punches compared with punching with bare fists or other types of fighting gloves.

The various types, sizes, and features of boxing gloves are a topic for a full article in itself, but as a beginner, you need at least one pair of decent-quality boxing gloves in 14 or 16 ounces. All boxing gloves are measured in ounces (heavier gloves are bigger and have more padding), and the bigger you are, the bigger gloves you need. For men, sparring is usually mandated to be done in 16-ounce gloves in most gyms, but some allow the use of 14 ounces as well. 

It’s often recommended to have separate pairs of boxing gloves for sparring and for heavy bag work because dedicated gloves for each have different product features and are usually not suitable for the other. 

But it is much cheaper and much more practical to buy a good pair of 14 or 16-ounce gloves that are designed to do both. Most models today are good enough to use both on the bag and sparring, and investing in a good quality pair will keep your hands and your sparring partners well protected.

As there are so many options recommend you check out the following boxing glove guide articles to help you out:

3. Hand wraps

Photo: Boxraw Handwraps

Hand wraps are also a must-have for boxing training because they help minimize the chance of fractures and sprains in the hands and wrists.

The human hand is a delicate masterpiece capable of intricate movements thanks to its structure consisting of many small bones, ligaments, and tissues. This also makes it ill-prepared to be bashed with full power against the hard human skull. Boxing gloves take the brunt of the impact from punches and protect your knuckles, but slight deviations in your punching angle may lead to severe injuries to many of the bones and tissues in the hand and wrist.

This is why hand wraps are used to keep everything in the hand together. Hand wraps protect everything in the hand, from the knuckles all the way to the wrist. If the hand is well wrapped, the chance of sprains and fractures is greatly diminished.

Boxers have their hands professionally wrapped before a fight, but for the gym, you need some nice, long hand wraps that you will have to put on yourself. There are many different correct ways of wrapping your hands, and once you learn how to do it properly, you will punch with much more confidence.  

I personally recommend and use Boxraw’s hand wraps which are great quality or you can look at options on Amazon here.

4. Head Guard

Bivol wearing Winning’s headguard

Head guards are not as essential as the mouth guard and boxing gloves, but they are still something you should wear when sparring hard. Contrary to popular belief, the head guard does very little in terms of protection from brain trauma, but it’s irreplaceable for preventing facial cuts and bruises.

Head guards have been widely used in boxing sparring for decades, and most people still use them today. After being a part of amateur boxing for many years, head guards are no longer used in amateur competitions. This fact, paired with recent studies showing head guards don’t protect from concussions, has made some practitioners ditch headgear altogether, but it still has many benefits.

Mostly, headgear prevents superficial damage like cuts and bruises from punches or headbutts. This alone is enough of a reason to wear a head guard every time you spar, even if it’s mildly hard. And if you are training for a competition, you should always use a helmet for your hard sessions to avoid any nasty cuts that can open up in the fight.

Some headgear even comes with horizontal nose protection, which further decreases the chance of receiving any face damage in the gym. So if you want to keep your face pretty at the cost of reduced vision and comfort or train for a fight, I would advise you to use headgear for boxing sparring.

I recommend you check out my top 10 best head guards for sparring article here.

5. Groin guard

Both men and women are susceptible to very painful injuries when they get hit in the groin area, but men especially have it worse. The easiest way to protect this delicate area is by using groin protection. The easiest and cheapest way of doing so is by using a protective cup with a jockstrap, which is common in many other sports as well.

But in boxing, there are special kinds of groin protectors not used in other combat sports. The most common you will see is the full front cup and abdominal protector. As the name suggests, these models cover the groin with padding and just the upper part of the abdominals.

Then there are full kidney and foul protectors, which are usually only used in competition. They cover the whole area below the waist, including the hips, and hold the boxing trunks in place, outlining the line below which punches are considered a foul. 

I recommend you check out my top 12 best groin guard protectors for boxing here.

If you need more protective equipment. Check out my other protective gear-related articles and reviews below:

Jamie - Boxing Life

I'm a boxing analyst, amateur boxer, and blogger looking to pass on my boxing experiences and passion to anyone looking to learn or find out more about the sport of boxing. Whether that be gear reviews, fighter analysis, news, training tips, or my own personal journey, I'll be covering it on 'Boxing Life'.

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