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What Is The Purpose Of Using Hand Wraps In Boxing Explained

A fighter wraps their hands during training.

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In combat sports, our limbs are our most crucial asset. Whether that be your legs or your hands, they need to be protected so that you can continue to fight and win. So keeping them safe from injury is key to improving your chances inside the ring. And the question often arises as to what is the purpose of using hand wraps.

A hand consists of some 27 small bones, held together by ligaments, muscles and tendons. The main purpose of hand wraps in boxing is to compact them together to help protect the bones from damage during a fight.

Wrapping a fighter’s hands is a crucial part of the pre-fight preparation. And within the sports of boxing and MMA, there are certain cut men and cornermen who are known throughout their field for the quality of their hand wrapping.

With specific cut men like say Stitch Duran being drafted in for big fights. Not just for his vast knowledge and ability to deal with cuts. But also his world-class hand wraps which many fighters have attested helped in at least some of their knockout victories.

So the wrapping of the hands serves two purposes. First and foremost is the protection element. Then secondly it is to create the best possible weapon out of the hand to achieve maximum impact, while at the same time trying to minimise damage.

But as we have seen on so many occasions, even with wraps being used, they can and often do still suffer from fractures. Sometimes leading to the fight being stopped, while other fighters choose to fight on through the pain, often winning.

Professional vs Training Hand Wraps

So as competitors or fans most will be familiar with what we see fighters using when training in the gym. Versus fighters who are in the locker room before a fight and the different types of wraps being applied to their hands.

MMA fighter putting hands wraps on.
A Fighter wears Cloth wraps.

This is because there are two different styles of hand wraps when it comes to either situation. One style is easier to put on, offering less protection but still doing the job. And most commonly these will be the cotton style we see throughout the gyms of the world.

Fighters will use these because they can quickly put them on by themselves. They don’t require help from anyone else and adequately do the job they were designed to do.

I’ll add that as they will be used in training the fighter won’t be punching at 100%. And so the hands don’t require the same degree of protection. However, this all changes when it comes to a real fight scenario.

And on fight night, boxers or mixed martial artists will require a different level of protection. Something which will offer the best possible protection to their hands, while at the same time allowing them to hit the target with full force.

But there is a fine line between offering great protection and over-padding the hand. As we see before a fight when a member from the other team will come to the dressing room to check the hand wraps. Make sure no funny business is taking place like adding too much or too little wrapping.

The Different Types Of Hand Wraps

There are five main types of boxing hand wraps that are used by hobbyists, and amateur and professional fighters. With each offering its own unique set of qualities, I wanted to quickly break down what they are and what they offer.

  • Cloth Cotton
  • Inner Glove
  • Fast
  • Mexican Style Hand Wraps
  • Tape or Gauze

Cloth or Cotton Hand Wraps

A female boxer dressed in black puts on hand wraps.
Cotton wraps are being applied.

The cloth style is sometimes referred to as cotton hand wraps. These are the ones you will see around almost every gym in the world. Owing to how commonly they are used when you think of a fighter wrapping their hands. We usually have an image in our minds of someone using this particular style.

Inner Glove Wraps

The inner glove style of hand wrap was created for people to put on and remove quite easily. So as a result of their simplistic design, they don’t offer a comparable amount of protection when compared to some other styles. Really not suited to any serious type of training, but nonetheless sufficient for what they do offer.

Using Fast Wraps

The fast hand wraps have been on the market for a relatively short time. Looking to take elements from professional gauze wraps and incorporate a faster way to be utilised. These wraps are good but are quite bulky and so will stretch your boxing gloves. So once you use them, you won’t be able to go back to less bulky wraps.

Mexican Style Hand Wraps

Mexican-style hand wraps are very similar in their appearance to cloth wraps, with the main difference being their elasticity. And this stretch allows the user to get a tight feel when wrapping the hands. Offering the support of the cloth wrap, but with some added flexibility. Meaning a nice tight hand wrap that offers good all-around support.

Gauze Wraps

So when you are watching any serious amateur, professional boxing or MMA. You will see the fighter getting their hands wrapped using white material with tape. The material is gauze, similar to what is used on wounds. That coupled with tape is seen as the best all-around combination of hand wraps for serious professionals and it’s been this way now for several decades.

Two men inside a boxing ring put on hand wraps.
A coach wraps his fighter’s hands.

Using Boxing Tape vs Hand Wraps

Boxing tape is sometimes used as an alternative to clot hand wraps. In much the same way as cloth, the sticky tape is wrapped around the hand to create support. However one of the disadvantages of the tape is that it doesn’t allow sweat to escape and as a result tends to come loose.

Usually used as a backup, most fighters tend to choose cotton wraps over tape. And another simple reason for this is that cotton is just more comfortable, allowing the hands to breathe. And at the end of the day feeling good is also an important factor when training.

Can You Reuse Hand Wraps

So generally speaking, hand wraps are a relatively cheap part of your overall kit. But even though that may be the case, what you don’t want is to keep having to replace things if they can be reused.

And the good news is that wraps are indeed reusable. Well, let me actually qualify that by saying, most are reusable. Including the cloth cotton hand, wraps are seen most commonly in gyms.

A boxer throws a right hand during training.
A Boxer wearing old hand wraps.

The inner glove style is also reusable, along with the fast wraps which have become more popular in recent years. Add to that the Mexican style wraps, which are in the same way as all those mentioned previously. Can be thrown in the wash with your other smelly kit clothes.

The only ones which are not reusable would be the professional gauze style. As they are created for one-off fights by whoever is wrapping the hands. Then after the fight is cut off using some scissors.

What Are The Best Boxing Hand Wraps

When it comes to which is the best on the market, there are so many established brands out there. And with some big variations in prices, it’s best to check out some reviews before making any decisions.

As one product may be significantly more expensive than another. While in reality offer very little difference in terms of performance. But here are just some of the more well-known brands to give you an overview of what is currently on the market.

In closing

Do you like what I did there? But as I have explained above, hand wraps are an essential part of the combat sports practitioner’s kit. Whether it’s MMA, boxing or any other striking sport. You are going to need protection on your most valuable asset, your hands.

Your hands allow you to create distance, to push off an opponent. Submit, choke or knock them out. So it’s essential that they stay in the best possible condition for the fight.

And that means in the lead-up during the pre-fight training camp, as well as the fight itself. But as you have now seen, there are different wraps for each situation which serve different purposes.

So you need to make sure and do your homework to find out what is best suited to your particular situation. As well as the level at which you will be partaking in the sport.

So I hope this breakdown of the reasoning behind using hand wraps gives you a clearer overall picture. And the knowledge you need to move forward in your combat sports journey. Just remember to protect those hands and they will, in turn, protect you.