An important feature of the Rio 2016 Olympic Boxing Competition has been the introduction of a new hand-wrapping technique, designed to offer the boxers greater protection and comfort during bouts. Used for some time in the professional world of Aiba Pro Boxing and World Series of Boxing, these Olympic Games represent their first use in an Olympic tournament, and as part of the AIBA International Technical Official team alongside Laurent Boucher and Joseph Clifford, Andrew Soto explained the changes.
Can you explain the benefits of the new wrap style being used in Rio 2016?
This gives the boxer more confidence to throw a more solid punch, as the hand is better protected. Before you could sometimes see micro-fractures in the knuckle area, but with this type of wrap you get protection all the way around from the knuckles to the thumb to the wrist, everything.
What are the basic dos and don’ts of the technique?
You must always apply the gauze to the skin first. You can’t layer it, or put tape right against the skin, because that is like building a cast, which is forbidden in all boxing. A coach must never just throw tape and gauze together because each piece that is applied has a function or is protecting something. If you apply them wrongly you can cut off circulation or start adding unnecessary weight to the boxer’s hand.
How are the teams taking to the new technique?
Since this is the first Olympic tournament with the new wraps, the AIBA ITOs are assisting and teaching the coaches how to do it properly. We held a workshop for the teams to observe and they could video-tape them to help share the fundamental ideas with their teams.
And have the boxers been happy with the changes?
As hard as the boxers hit and as fast as they throw punches, their hands are far too precious and the new wrap really gives them more confidence. Plus, it is so comfortable that the boxers can do it an hour before competition, get it out of the way and then get ready at their own speed.
What kind of checks are in place to ensure the teams are getting it right?
Whether the coach or the ITO does the wrap, the technical team will always do a final check before the boxer puts on their gloves in order to sign it off. After that, the glove is taped on and once a match is over, the referee then re-checks the wrap before awarding the bout to the winner.