Besides gloves, a good pair of handwraps is most important piece of equipment used for training in a boxer’s arsenal.
Noted boxing reporter Katherine Dunn succinctly sums up the importance of handwraps when she says, “The core dilemma of fist fighting is that the human hand isn’t designed as a weapon. The metacarpal bones radiating from wrist to knuckles are too fragile to withstand a blow delivered with the full force of the body.” 1
Unlike the surgical tape and gauze used for competition, the handwraps used for training are made of cotton that can be washed after each use. The wraps typically range from 1 to 3 inches in width and anywhere from 120 to 170 inches long. Bigger men will clearly require more material to wrap their hands. Training wraps are often fastened with a Velcro strip at the end of the wrap. The other end also usually has a thumbloop to help secure the wrap when wrapping your own hands.
“Mexican” style wraps are made to have a more elastic feeling to them. I personally prefer the “Mexican” style wraps because I like to feel the material stretch around my hand as I perform the wrapping. I have found that the final product also feels more snug than when using regular cotton wraps.
Handwraps also help to keep your fist straight and aid in making the fighter feel like the hand and wrist are a single “unit”. This is very important for keeping your fist and wrist in the proper position when landing a punch.
As you can imagine, your handwraps will absorb quite a large amount of sweat during a training session. For this reason, I would suggest that you buy several pairs of handwraps so that you don’t have to do laundry every day. I would not suggest wearing the same handwraps several days in a row without washing them.
These days, various boxing product manufacturers have come up with alternatives to handwraps. An example would the Everlast EverGel Wraps seen below. You can just slip these on and fasten with Velcro. However, I believe the ease of use associated with these short-cuts to proper handwrapping is not worth the lessened safety. There is a reason why proper handwrapping is considered such a valued skill in boxing circles. Simply put, properly wrapped hands are much less prone to injury.
1. Dunn, Katherine. One Ring Circus. Tucson, Arizona: Schaffner Press, 2009.