The Differences Between Boxing Shoes and Wrestling Shoes — Plus the 6 Best to Buy

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A pair of boxing shoes can help protect your joints from injury while you train.
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If you're planning to spend more time in the ring, you'll need a quality boxing or wrestling shoe that supports your foot and performance, while helping you avoid injuries. But when it comes to choosing between boxing or wrestling shoes, it may not make much of a difference.

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"Boxing shoes and wrestling shoes have many things in common — that's why many boxers wear wrestling shoes when they train, and vice versa," says Greg Ardon, founder and head coach of Ardon Sweet Science Gym and former national muay thai and kung fu world champion.

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While they're both lightweight, form-fitting, boot-like shoes made for sports that rely on fast footwork and traction, boxing shoes are usually more supportive, Ardon says. Learn about the differences between boxing and wrestling shoes and shop the best pairs.

What's the Difference Between Boxing and Wrestling Shoes?

While they are very similar and oftentimes used interchangeably, there are some slight differences between boxing and wrestling shoes.

"Generally, boxing shoes have a thicker sole with a bit more traction because most of the movements involved are back and forward," Ardon says.

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"Because wrestling calls for more lateral movements, you need a sole that's thinner and more flexible," Ardon says. Wrestling shoes also have a more pronounced tread pattern, allowing for a solid grip on the mat. That's why most models of wrestling shoes have one or more circles carved into the sole to provide traction in all directions.

Boxing shoes provide more support as opposed to wrestling shoes, Ardon says. But both types of shoes have relatively thin soles with little padding or arch support. And because both sports are done on a padded mat, having a shoe that's lightweight is more important than providing extra comfort.

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So, can boxing shoes be used as wrestling shoes? For the most part, yes. However, boxing shoes tend to have more ankle support and rigidity than wrestling sneakers.

Boxing Shoes vs. Regular Shoes

Wondering what's the difference between wrestling or boxing shoes and regular workout shoes? Wrestling- and boxing-specific shoes offer more support, stability and traction than regular sneakers, which is why it's best to wear them on the mat.

Pro tip: Try to wear your boxing/wrestling sneakers in the gym only because asphalt and cement can break down the traction on the soles.

How We Chose

We spoke with a boxing coach and champion to learn about what makes for quality boxing and wrestling shoes. Keeping his advice and product recommendations in mind, we researched countless pairs, keeping the following criteria in mind. You can learn more about how we cover products here.

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  • Quality
  • Materials
  • Comfort
  • Price

A Note on Language

We understand that gender is a spectrum, and so we make deliberate choices about the language we use. Still, most manufacturers typically market shoes to men or women, so we match the language used by the brands below.

That said, feel free to choose a shoe according to your taste and style preferences. But note that shoes marketed to men are typically wider.

The Best Boxing Shoes

1. Everlast High Top Boxing Shoes

Best Lightweight
Ardon recommends these Everlast boxing shoes because their treaded sole provides good traction and the high-top design offers support in and out of the ring.

Everlast Elite High Top Boxing Shoes

Ardon recommends Everlast boxing shoes because their high-top design offers extra support while remaining lightweight and comfortable.

One of Ardon's recommendations, this Everlast boxing shoe is made with a sole that provides good traction, preventing slips on the mat and allowing you to move laterally with ease. Plus, the open-weave mesh allows for extra breathability.

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Note: These are only available in full sizes, so if you're in between sizes, you may want to order two pairs and try on both to find the perfect fit.

2. Title Speed-Flex Encore

Best on a Budget
These mid-top boxing shoes from Title come about 6 inches up the calf and offer good stability, supporting both footwork and speed.

Title Speed-Flex Encore

These boxing shoes from Title come recommended by Ardon, thanks to their high support.

Coming in under $50, these are the perfect budget-friendly boxing shoes. Wearers love that these Title shoes are durable and work well for strength-training workouts out of the ring thanks to their thin sole that keeps your feet flat on the ground.

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Ardon likes these for their support level, thanks to the high ankle that comes 6 inches up your ankle.

3. Adidas Box Hog 4 Shoes

Best for Stability
These Adidas boxing shoes are perfect for either the ring or gym, thanks to their lightweight materials and grippy outsole that provides stability.

Adidas Box Hog 4 Shoes

These lightweight Adidas boxing shoes have a midsole wedge to support your mid-foot plus a grippy outsole for extra stability.

These Adidas boxing shoes are super comfortable and provide great ankle and foot support. They also have a high-grip outsole, so you don't have to worry about slipping as you change directions on the mats.

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These shoes may run a bit small, though, so if you're in between sizes or have a wider foot, then consider buying a half or full size larger.

The Best Wrestling Shoes

4. Asics Matflex 6 Wrestling Shoes

Best for Flexibility

ASICS Men's Matflex 6 Wrestling Shoes

These Asics wrestling shoes come recommended by Ardon because they're breathable, lightweight and flexible (you can literally fold them in half).

One of Ardon's picks, these low-top wrestling shoes are easy to slip on and off and feature a mesh insole for ample ventilation (aka, no sweaty feet during a match).

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These also have a removable sockliner for extra comfort, but you may have to size up, as some reviews note that these run a bit small and narrow.

5. Nike Inflict

Best for Traction
The Nike Inflict wrestling shoes provide durability, ankle support, breathability and multi-angle traction for A+ performance during practice and matches.

Nike Inflict

The Nike Inflict wrestling shoes provide durability, ankle support, breathability and multi-angle traction for top-notc performance during practice and matches.

These Nike wrestling shoes are great for beginner and experienced wrestlers alike, thanks to their mid-top design, ankle strap, and foam cushioning, which provides extra foot and ankle support.

The thicker rubber sole means these are extra durable and offer plenty of traction, so they're worth the investment.

6. Adidas Combat Speed 5 Wrestling Shoe

Best for Breathability
These Adidas wrestling shoes feature a mesh upper with synthetic leather and suede overlays that guarantee breathability and flexibility, while ankle strap provides added support.

Adidas Men's Combat Speed 5 Wrestling Shoe

These Adidas wrestling shoes feature a mesh upper with synthetic leather and suede overlays for breathability and an ankle strap for extra support.

If you're looking for a durable shoe that's comfortable and lightweight, this one's for you. The rubber and leather sole provides good grip on the mat, the elastic ankle strap provides support and comfort.

And for hotter workouts, the mesh overlays keep your feet cool throughout the toughest match.

3 Factors to Look for in a Boxing or Wrestling Shoe

1. Flexibility

Boxing and wrestling shoes need to be flexible to allow for quick and agile footwork, Ardon says. Whether you're a boxer or wrestler, you need to move swiftly and change directions smoothly — a flexible shoe helps you maintain balance and stability.

Plus, a flexible training shoe allows for better foot and ankle mobility, which is essential for both striking and grappling movements in boxing and wrestling, respectively. And the more flexible your shoe, the less break-in time it will probably need.

2. Materials

The best wrestling shoes are made of lightweight synthetics, often with mesh uppers, and have rubber soles to prevent slipping on the mat. These materials make for better movement — and your shoes must be flexible to allow your feet to move into any position without pinching or discomfort while in a match.

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Although you can buy boxing shoes made of synthetic materials, lightweight leather or suede boxing shoes with textured rubber soles are even better because they're more durable. However, they do tend to be more pricey.

Before you buy, read the product info to make sure you're getting sweat-wicking synthetic materials (like polyester or nylon) or high-quality leater/suede.

3. Ankle Height

Boxers stand straighter than wrestlers and are more likely to fall without warning. Wrestlers often fall down, but they know it's coming and have (hopefully) trained to fall safely. This puts boxers at a higher risk of ankle injuries.

Because of this, higher tops are preferred for boxing shoes because they provide more support for the ankle and foot, Ardon says. Tall boxing shoes can rise as far as 12 inches up the calf.

"Wrestlers prefer shorter lower tops for more flexibility," Ardon says. So if you're looking for a wrestling shoe instead, you might want to opt for a low-top or mid-top shoe.

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