Since boxing involves forceful, repetitive punching, precautions must be taken to prevent damage to bones in the hand. Most trainers do not allow boxers to train and spar without wrist wraps and boxing gloves. Hand wraps are used to secure the bones in the hand, and the gloves are used to protect the hands from blunt injury, allowing boxers to throw punches with more force than if they did not utilize them. Gloves have been required in competition since the late nineteenth century, though modern boxing gloves are much heavier than those worn by early twentieth-century fighters. Prior to a bout, both boxers agree upon the weight of gloves to be used in the bout, with the understanding that lighter gloves allow heavy punchers to inflict more damage. The brand of gloves can also affect the impact of punches, so this too is usually stipulated before a bout.
A mouth guard is important to protect the teeth and gums from injury, and to cushion the jaw, resulting in a decreased chance of knockout. Both fighters must wear soft soled shoes to reduce the damage from accidental (or intentional) stepping on feet. While older boxing boots more commonly resembled those of a professional wrestler, modern boxing shoes and boots tend to be quite similar to their amateur wrestling counterparts.
Boxers practice their skills on two basic types of punching bags. A small, tear-drop-shaped “speed bag” is used to hone reflexes and repetitive punching skills, while a large cylindrical “heavy bag” filled with sand, a synthetic substitute, or water is used to practice power punching and body blows. In addition to these distinctive pieces of boxing equipment, boxers also utilize sport-nonspecific boxing equipment to build strength, speed, agility, and stamina. Common boxing equipment includes free weights, rowing machines, jump rope, and medicine balls.
Boxing matches typically take place in a boxing ring, a raised platform surrounded by ropes attached to posts rising in each corner. The term “ring” has come to be used as a metaphor for many aspects of prize fighting in general.