Boxer training with black boxing mid top shoes

Boxing Shoes vs Wrestling Shoes: Can You Use Them?

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If you’ve spent any time in a boxing gym, you’ve probably seen people wearing wrestling shoes and wondered what the difference is between boxing shoes. They certainly look similar and even share several characteristics, especially low-top boxing shoes.

So how do you tell one from the other and does it even matter?

While you can use wrestling shoes for boxing training, there are important differences between wrestling and true boxing shoes. Both are lightweight and flexible but are designed with unique features geared towards giving you a sport-specific edge.

The subtle differences between boxing shoes and wrestling shoes aren’t always easy to spot, but they do exist. Let’s demystify what makes each type of shoe unique.

Wrestling Shoe Facts

Wrestling Lacing On Wrestling Shoes

As any wrestler can tell you, there’s nothing worse than having to worry about an ill-timed slip in the middle of a match. That’s why wrestling shoes are all about the right balance of traction on the bottom and flexibility on the top.

Wrestling shoes are designed to offer:

  • Plenty of sole traction for maximum grip.
  • A lightweight design that allows for quicker foot movement.
  • Flexibility to allow for a wider range of ankle movement.
  • Ankle support but not restriction.
Asics Matflex
  • EVA Sockliner
  • Mesh insole improves ventilation

Wrestlers shift positions constantly, so their feet end up in all kinds of crazy angles. While the average athletic shoe isn’t designed to account for this, wrestling shoes are meant exactly for that purpose.

They’re designed to grip the floor from a wider range of positions to ensure that your feet stay exactly where you want them. Wrestling shoes also tend to be very lightweight and flexible to allow a wider range of motion.

Is it OK to Use Wrestling Shoes for Boxing?

In general, yes. But it largely comes down to personal preference. Some boxers actually prefer the added traction that wrestling shoes bring to their footwork. Others find that the maximum grip of wrestling shoes slows down their ability to pivot or slide as quickly as they’d like.

But while boxers can realistically use wrestling shoes, we wouldn’t suggest trying to sub in boxing shoes for wrestling. That’s because the slicker soles of boxing shoes aren’t going to do you any favors when you’re trying to hold an already tricky position.

Boxing Shoe Facts

Hi Top Boxing Shoes set in a boxing ring

Boxing shoes admittedly share several similarities with wrestling shoes. Both are designed to be lightweight, breathable, and provide better ankle support than the average street shoe. But there is a reason that some boxers swear by shoes specifically designed for their sport.

Boxing shoes will:

  • Provide traction for quick forward steps and backward movement.
  • Have smoother outsoles for less resistance to side movements.
  • Be made of lightweight leather materials for quick foot movement.
  • Have higher tops for added ankle and balance support.
Adidas Box Hog
  • Boxing shoes built for agility in the ring
  • Weight: 304 g; Regular fit
  • Breathable mesh upper with inner reinforcements to support every step

Mid-top boxing shoes are most similar to wrestling shoes, but the soles aren’t designed to grip the floor with the intensity of the average wrestling shoe. While they’ll provide plenty of traction for quick foot movement, the smoother thinner sole also makes it easier to slide, glide, and pivot.

While there are exceptions, traditional boxing shoes (or boots) also tend to have higher tops to provide more ankle support. Between slips, pivots, and rolls, your ankles have a lot of work to do in the ring. A little extra support can go a long way in avoiding injuries.

Do Boxing Shoes Make a Difference?

In a word: Yes! Shoes made specifically for combat sports are designed very differently than other athletic shoes. These types of shoes not only offer better ankle and grip support, but their soles are also much thinner than the average shoe. This makes them much lighter, which in turn allows for quicker foot movement and less damage to the mats.

Related: Check out our Top Boxing Shoe picks

On that note, boxing or wrestling shoes should generally be reserved only for training. This is especially true if you train at an MMA gym. Both wrestling and BJJ involve extensive groundwork and nobody wants to roll around in dirt that rode in on the bottom of someone’s dirty street shoes.

Differences Between Wrestling and Boxing Shoes

Top Shoes for Boxing
Photo: TheDailySportsHerald by CC

1. Soles & Cushioning

Wrestling shoes tend to go light on cushioning and are available in both single-sole or split-sole designs. While their rubber sole is much lighter than those of tennis shoes, they’re also designed to provide more floor grip from more positions.

Boxing shoes are available in a wider range of choices when it comes to sole thickness and cushioning. Some fighters prefer thicker soles for added foot support, while others find that thinner soles make them feel more connected to the ground.

2. Grip

Traditional boxing shoes tend to have smoother, forward-facing tread patterns on the soles. This provides traction for fast jab steps and backward quick movements but minimal resistance for sliding, lateral movements.

Wrestling shoes, on the other hand, are all about grip. The soles of wrestling shoes usually have more complex tread patterns to provide maximum grip from more angles.

3. Ankle Support

Both boxing and wrestling shoes come in a variety of different top heights. But most traditional boxing boots are designed to lace up higher for improved ankle support to help with lateral movement.

Most wrestling shoes don’t come up much higher than the ankle. They’re designed to provide ankle support without restricting the range of movement needed for solid groundwork.

4. Sizing

Shoe size can vary slightly from company to company, no matter what type of shoe you choose.

Boxing shoes tend to come in full sizes only, whereas wrestling shoes will have half sizes like normal athletic shoes.

If you’re ordering online, read the sizing guide, and always check the reviews for clues as to how sizing tends to line up with expectations.

5. Durability

While some boxing shoes come with thicker soles, boxing and wrestling shoes are both designed to be used on the mats and will last much longer if you only wear them for training.

Also, keep in mind that a higher price tag may not necessarily ensure that a pair of either type of shoe will last longer. Pricing tends to be based more on performance-based features than on longevity.

6. Cost & Availability

It’s possible to get a good pair of either boxing or wrestling shoes for anywhere from the $50 to $200 range. Some higher-end boxing shoes may cost a bit more, partially because they’re taller and use premium leather material.

It’s also because they can be a little harder to find in local sporting goods stores. That said, you’ll find plenty of great boxing shoes online.

Final Thoughts – Are Boxing Shoes Worth It?

If you want to train as a boxer on a consistent basis, you don’t want to buy the wrong shoe, and a pair of boxing shoes is absolutely a worthy investment!

While your first pair doesn’t have to cost a fortune, don’t be surprised if you notice a difference right away. Not only will your feet feel lighter, but you’ll also enjoy better traction and grip in all the right areas.

*Last updated 2022-09-29 at 03:54 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Thomas Davies

Thomas has spent over a decade teaching and growing Boxing and MMA through his writing. His goal is to teach and inspire with the unique discipline & health benefits that combat sports can provide. More About Us.

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