Despite calling itself the Sweet Science, many boxing trainers are less about the science and more about the tradition.
That is, these hidebound trainers do things the way their trainers taught them. They don’t innovate. They don’t advance the state of the art. Their pool of ideas remains stagnant.
Unfortunately, these guys are the ones who make the rules and regulations.
When it comes to wrapping your hands during training, there are several tradition-based rules you should ignore.
And lately, some trainers and boxing regulatory commissions have been revisiting handwrap rules with the aim of protecting fighters’ hands. If the boxing commission doesn’t like to reexamine the rules from time to time, I think it’s a good idea to find a way to get rid of them and put some forward-thinking commissioners in their seats.
By way of example, here is the WBO regulations about handwraps:
In all weight classes hand bandages shall be restricted to twelve (12) yards of soft gauze bandage per hand not more than two (2) inches in width, held in place by not more than eight (8) feet (2.438 m) of surgical tape of One (1) inch (25.4 mm) of width. The surgical tape shall not be applied within one (1) inch (25.4 mm)of the knuckles of the contestant’s hands.
Here is the IBF‘s version of these handwrap rules:
The hand bandage shall be restricted to ten (10) yards of soft gauze bandage not more than two (2) inches wide held in place by not more than six (6) feet of surgeon’s tape, one inch wide for each hand. In the Light Heavyweight, Cruiserweight and Heavyweight classes, bandages may be twelve (13) yards in length and not more than two (2) inches in width held in place by not more than eight (8) feet of surgeon’s tape, one inch in width for each hand. The binding of surgeon’s tape must not be applied within one inch of the knuckles of the contestant’s hands.
Bad rule #1: Limited handwrap lengths
Why do boxing commissions enforce these arbitrary lengths?
The old-school dinosaurs who make these rules think that the more you wrap your hands, the more danger there is to your opponent’s face. By limiting the handwrap length, they try to strike a happy medium between protecting your hands and protecting your opponent’s face.
But I’m not convinced that longer handwraps, on their own, let you do excessive damage to your opponent.
What I am sure of is that many boxers — even top-level professionals with earning potentials in the hundreds of millions of dollars — regularly break their hands during boxing matches.
Some forward-looking boxing commissions are changing the traditions. They say it’s OK to use as much handwrap material (gauze bandage) as you can fit inside the boxing gloves. This is a huge step in the right direction.
Obviously, when you train, you should use as much handwrap as you can. The more the better. Don’t let these outdated ‘rules’ dictate how long your training wraps should be. The health of your hand is of primary importance. If your sparring partner complains, find a new partner.
Bad rule #2: Handwrap placement
It’s always been illegal to put handwraps over the knuckles during a boxing match. Many people believe the wraps get hard over your knuckles and they’ll add to the impact of a punch. Roger Mayweather once said that gauze bandages over the knuckles turned into “brass knuckles” as a fight wears on.
But Roger Mayweather doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
When you train on the heavybag, you must put padding over your knuckles. Either use the handwrap material, or use a pair of knuckle guards.
During sparring (and during boxing matches), it’s rude and/or illegal to use knuckle guards. But again, some progressive boxing commissions are examining and altering the rules which prohibit using handwrap gauze over the knuckles.
So don’t let the old tradition of not wrapping your knuckles lead you to damage your hands on the heavybag. When you train the bags, wrap your knuckles in addition to your hands. If you don’t have enough material, then get some longer handwraps.
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