They are worn by Gian the Fist, who can be found in The Ratway under Riften. After killing the two bandits near the entrance of the Ratway, continue down the hall and jump off the path where the bridge is, take a right once down by the bridge and keep following that path. Gian the Fist is located in a room full of bear traps. He will attack upon sight, but once defeated he can be looted to receive the Gloves of the Pugilist.
This pair of gloves is the only item that bears the Fortify Unarmed enchantment, and thus the only item that the enchantment can be learned from; there are no randomly generated pieces that possess this enchantment. The enchantment can only be placed on rings, gloves, or gauntlets.
They can be upgraded at a workbench with a piece of leather, however, they do not benefit from any Smithing perks. This means they cannot be improved past flawless quality without boosting the Smithing skill over 100. This can be achieved by using enchanted items and/or potions to fortify Smithing.
Khajiit benefit most from this, as their claw bonus applies in addition to wearing gauntlets or gloves.
The gloves can be disenchanted and the enchantment level increased by using high-level Soul Gems combined with a high Enchanting skill level; with the Heavy Armor perk Fists of Steel the effects of these gloves or their respective enchantment become useful as player level increases. Since these gloves are light armor, they don't benefit from the Fists of Steel perk, so the enchantment can be placed on any heavy armor gauntlets, which would then allow them to benefit from the perk.
- A "pugilist" is another name for a professional boxer or fist-fighter.