Boxing Shoes vs Wrestling Shoes

Are you in a hurry? Here is the best all-around choice for wrestling and boxing shoe:

ASICS Men's Matflex 6 Wrestling Shoes, 6.5, Black/Champagne
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ASICS Men's Matflex 6 Wrestling Shoes, 6.5, Black/Champagne
  • EVA Sockliner
  • Mesh insole improves ventilation

You can use wrestling shoes for boxing without any problem; actually, that’s what I know, Floyd Mayweather does, and many other pros and amateurs.

But be aware that you don’t want to do it in reverse, meaning that you don’t want to use boxing shoes for wrestling.

A decent pair of boxing shoes can make all the difference when you are in the ring, but many people find themselves a bit lost when trying to figure out what they need. Websites sell many different kinds of them and like all shoes that you buy over the internet, sizing can be a nightmare. When you want to try some on and see how they feel or fit, you might go to your local sporting goods stores just to find that pretty much none of them carry what you are looking for.

What you might not know is that most sporting good stores do carry a pretty good alternative: wrestling shoes. In American high schools, kids might have classes like home economics, which will teach them to cook, or workshop, which would show them how to work with power equipment and wood materials. While many American high schools don’t allow boxing programs for liability issues, most of them have wrestling programs. This makes wrestling shoes a higher demand item in most cities; meaning that wrestling shoes are usually available in many sporting goods and large selection shoe stores as well with online retailers.

Related: 8 Things To Look For in Boxing Shoes For Kids

Wrestling takes place on an indoor matted surface and a wrestler requires traction similar to that of a boxer. However, while the shoes are very similar in material, traction, and weight there is one major difference between the two. Boxers often need to make quick lateral movements in order to avoid punches and get around their opponent’s guard, but wrestlers need to avoid being wrenched in different directions so that their opponent can’t throw them around.

This leads to traditional boxing shoes having treat patterns that only point in a forward direction, making it so that any step forward or backward has maximum grip, while lateral movement that involves sliding their foot has the least amount of resistance possible. Wrestling shoes, on the other hand, tend to have tread patterns that extend in a star pattern from the ball of the foot, enabling them to have traction no matter what angle their foot is receiving pressure from.

Many people interpret the fact that wrestling shoes are specifically made in an opposing style to one of the qualities that boxing shoes strive for to mean that wrestling shoes are inferior in a boxing application, but that is not always the case. Many boxers actually prefer traction in all directions and specifically buy wrestling shoes for the added stability that they feel when forced to change directions very quickly in the ring. This means that you have some choices to make, but hopefully the following points can make some of them easier for you with the right information.

  1. What type of boxer are you?

Do you feel that your footwork involves lateral movement that would benefit from reduced traction when sliding your feet side to side? If so, maybe you would prefer traditional boxing shoes. If you are someone who often loses their footing or utilizes a wider stance and quick side to side direction changes, you might actually prefer wresting shoes.

Boxing Shoes vs Wrestling Shoes bottom
Boxing Shoe on the left vs Wrestling Shoe on the right
  1. Sizing

Sizing is fairly similar between wrestling and boxing shoes. Even if you would prefer a set of traditional boxing shoes, you should still consider going to a sporting goods store and trying on some wrestling shoes in order to better determine what size you should order. If you have a pair of Nike running shoes, I have noticed that most boxing/wrestling shoes tend to be fairly close to the standard that Nike uses for them. This is especially true for any Nike brand boxing shoes. Ultimately, though, you will always know if a pair of shoes you have already tried on will fit you, while ones that you order online are a mystery until they arrive.

Wrestling Shoes Side Boxing Shoes Side
  1. Pricing

Both wresting shoes and boxing shoes fall within a broad spectrum of pricing, however neither one is significantly cheaper or more expensive than the other. Expect to pay between 50-100 dollars for a decent pair of either.

  1. Wear-out time

One thing that throws many people off, and therefore throws off the reliability of their reviews concerning the quality of any given pair of boxing or wrestling shoes, is how quickly they wear out. Many people assume that if they purchase a more expensive pair of shoes, they should last longer. The problem with this logic is that the quality of the shoe is not at all relevant to how long it lasts, but rather how well it performs at its task, that is, how well it provides you stability and traction in the ring. Usually boxing and wrestling shoe companies utilize softer compounds in their manufacturing process to construct the soles of their shoes. Unlike running shoes, which have hard soles meant for use one pavement, boxing and wrestling shoes are not meant for long-term abuse and don’t have deep treading for water displacement. This means that no matter how good the shoe is constructed, it is going to wear out very quickly. It is an unavoidable fact when choosing to make this purchase. In order to maximize the life of your shoes, make sure to only use them inside and never use them for running. You should have a dedicated pair of running shoes for this.

  1. Support

Boxing Shoes Top Wrestling Shoes Top

Both boxing and wrestling shoes come in hi-top/boot and lo-top varieties. What you should purchase depends entirely on the type of support that you require. If you are the type that frequently rolls their ankle, you might consider wearing a higher shoe. Many people find a higher shoe too constricting to their freedom of movement, in which case they might prefer a lower cut. However, you should keep in mind that nothing restricts your movement more than a twisted ankle at exactly the wrong moment. Again, I would suggest trying on wresting shoes in both varieties at your local sporting goods store before making a final decision.

In conclusion, all I can really say is that unless you are extremely picky, both types of shoes will probably perform perfectly well in a training environment.  I have worn both types and have not noticed an extreme difference between the two. Having boxing or wrestling shoes do make a world of difference over wearing a type of shoe that is not meant for traction on canvas or mat, but remember that splitting hairs over the direction of the traction is not as important as developing proper footwork in the first place.

Jack Biltson
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Jack Biltson Reviewer

Jack Biltson is a boxing and sports enthusiast who buys too much gear and likes to talk about it. He fought in his first tournament in 2010 and is a qualified fitness instructor.

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