Introduction to Boxing Handwraps

Many new boxers question the purpose of wearing handwraps during workouts. Wrapping the hands and wrists seems to be tedious and unnecessary to new boxers, as they believe their boxing gloves provide the necessary protection.

Yes, gloves are well padded, but they do not provide sufficient protection to the small bones and joints in the hands and wrists. Although boxing gloves do provide additional protection to a boxer, they are worn mainly to protect the opposing fighter from the direct impact from the knuckles. Handwraps are used mainly to protect the hands and wrists of the boxer wearing them. They align and compress the joints in the hand and wrist. Wraps also tighten and protect the soft tissues of the hand that become vulnerable with the impact of a punch. The metacarpus and carpus bone structures within the hand and wrist receive padding and support in order to prevent small fractures.

Materials and methods used to wrap the hands vary depending on the circumstance of the training or competition. Personal preference and hand size also serve as factors. This guide will introduce the different types of handwraps used for training and competition.

Training Wraps

Handwraps used in training differ from wraps used for competition. Training wraps are reusable and are usually secured by a Velcro strap. Competition wraps usually are not reusable and are secured by tape. There are also different types of training wraps. The basic options for training wraps are cotton, Mexican, and gel. The standard for competition wraps is gauze.


This type of wrap is a long-lasting, inexpensive option. Cotton wraps have a convenient hook that goes around the thumb to help begin the wrapping. There is Velcro on the other end that is used to secure the wraps. These wraps are usually two inches wide and generally fall within the range of 150 to 170 inches in length. The length of the wrap does not matter too much, but longer wraps provide sufficient support for boxers with larger hands. Junior wraps, ranging from 95 to 120 inches, are available for younger boxers.

Generally, cotton wraps cost less than $15 a pair, with some versions being as low as $3 a pair. These wraps work well for boxers who train often, since they can be hung out to dry out after workouts.


To the naked eye, these wraps will appear to be the same as cotton wraps. Upon wrapping the hands, however, the boxer will realize that Mexican wraps allow for much more elasticity.

The majority of competitive boxers prefer Mexican wraps due to their ability to contour to the hand better than cotton wraps. These wraps are also inexpensive, costing less than $15 a pair in most circumstances. Mexican wraps usually range from 180 to 200 inches. As with cotton wraps, the length does not matter much, except for with boxers with larger hands. Convenience and comfort serve as the main advantages of Mexican wraps. The life of these wraps is slightly less than that of the traditional cotton wrap. However, cotton wraps and Mexican wraps both provide durability. These wraps can also be hung up conveniently after workouts in order to dry. Most cotton and Mexican wraps are machine washable, but should be placed in a small mesh bag to prevent excessive tangling.


These wraps are quite different than other wraps in appearance and feel. In fact, they don’t actually get wrapped; they are slipped on like gloves. These wraps do not cover the fingers, but protect the knuckles with embedded foam. Gel wraps offer substantial padding to the knuckles and hand, but many boxers complain that wrist support is not always adequate. Convenience is the number one reason boxers choose the gel form, and most serious boxers opt for cotton or Mexican wraps. Cotton and Mexican wraps tend to contour to the hands more precisely. Gel wraps are relatively expensive, ranging from $20 to $50. In most cases, they are machine washable.

Amazingly True Story

Antonio Margarito is a Mexican boxer who held championship titles in the welterweight division. In early 2009, Margarito and his trainer, Javier Capetillo, had their boxing licenses revoked for the period of one year.

The suspension came due to a controversy prior to the Margarito-Shane Moseley title fight. Just before professional fights, state inspectors examine the hand wraps and gloves of each boxer. This is done in order to confirm that each boxer’s team has followed the rules.

During the inspection, Moseley’s trainer noticed a pasty white, wet substance on Margarito’s wraps. His wraps were thrown away and his hands were rewrapped after further examination. The match occurred later in the evening and Margarito lost the fight by TKO. The substance found on Margarito’s wraps turned out to be a combination of sulfur and calcium. When combined with oxygen, sulfer and calcium form Plaster of Paris.

Competition Wraps

Boxers competing under most amateur governing bodies and all professional bodies are required to wear gauze wraps. Learn more about boxing’s Rules & Regulations here.The gauze is secured by medical tape. Boxing organizations specify how much gauze and tape can be used on each hand. This information can easily be found in a governing body’s rulebook. Boxers will require the assistance of a trainer in order to effectively form the gauze wrap around the hand and wrist. Elite professional boxers often hire specialized trainers solely in charge of wrapping their hands.

Gauze and tape wraps become costly when used for daily training sessions, because they are not reusable. A role of tape costs about one dollar and a roll of gauze costs slightly under a dollar. Boxers enjoy the feeling of gauze and tape for competition, though, since the wraps are lightweight, elastic, and form tightly to the hands and wrists.

Safety First

Protection and safety need to be the priorities for boxers of any skill level. Handwraps are the first line of defense against unnecessary injury. Equipment such as headgear and cups may only pertain to boxers who yearn to spar and compete, but handwraps are relevant to even the most novice of boxers.

Share the knowledge