Boxing has been around essentially forever, often without the use of gloves. Around the beginning of the twentieth century, what most of us would recognize as modern boxing gloves began to appear and become commonplace.
For a very long, these gloves were made almost entirely of animals. Leather on the outer lining was made from goat or cow hide, and the padding underneath was often horse hair or cotton.
In the later half of the century, many glove manufacturers began to find other ways to make gloves. Initially, this was solely about saving money. Vinyl gloves became popular for their lower price, but they generally didn’t last as long as leather gloves. Horse hair was also expensive and glove makers experimented with foam padding as a substitute.
Eventually, scientists were able to make “engineered leather” out of the basic materials of plastic. This was immediately used for cars, couches, and of course, boxing gloves.
For a long time, the boxing community resisted these changes, understandably. Cheap gloves could be unsafe and unreliable. But by the late 90’s, the tide had begun to shift.
The truth is, technology kept increasing to the point where not only was engineered leather much harder to distinguish from real leather, it actually could perform better and last longer.
Not all engineered leather is the same
Like everything else, both animal and engineered leather have a range of quality. When people hear about synthetic or “fake leather” they often equate it with lower quality. However, modern manufactured leather can produce very high quality engineered leather that is hard for even experts to immediately spot.
By the same token, animal leather has a variety of manufacturing methods. Many buyers will purchase "real" leather without any knowledge about whether what they bought is full grain, top grain, or bonded leather. Cheap leather can often be inferior to premium engineered leather.
Engineered leather tends to be lighter
Engineered leather is usually noticeably lighter than animal leather, which is great for casual kickboxing or longer training sessions. Heavy gloves may not seem like a big deal at first, but after several minutes of hitting a bag, you will feel the difference. This often prompts new students to try on lighter gloves, without realizing that they will be less protected.
Animal Leather needs to be regularly maintained with special oils to make sure it doesn't crack and ages well. Engineered leather can be air dried and wiped down with soap water in just a few seconds.
Engineered leather is produced ethically
Every year, more than one billion animals of all kinds are killed to produce leather from their skin. More than that, it's often sourced from countries that use toxic chemicals to produce it, and often employ children to work in tanneries.
Quality engineered leather gloves perform just as well for the casual or intermediate practitioners, and are produced without animal products, usually at a more affordable price.
We're proud to say that Sanabul is leading the way in showing the world what quality Engineered Leather can feel like. From high value gloves like our Sanabul Essentials, to premium gloves that feel just as genuine, like our Gold Strike Gloves. We give our customers every option, and always make sure our material is ready to last long and feel great in the gym.