Wrestling Shoes: High, Tight, and Light

Examples of Early Wrestling Shoes:

Converse "Chuck Taylor" Wrestling Shoe (white)Converse made these shoes for wrestling in the 1970s.

Onitsuka Tiger Wrestling 81 (gold and black)This is an ASICS reissue of the Onitsuka Tiger Wrestling 81, which is like their early 1980's models.

adidas Wrestling Canvas, red with white stripes and trimThis is the adidas Wrestling Canvas, a 2004 reissue that used the uppers of their 1984 wrestling shoe (they did change the outsole).

Examples of Recent Wrestling Shoes:

adidas Akrid wrestling shoe in white with black stripesadidas Akrid. Note that the outsole material wraps along the side of the shoe in the forefoot and heel areas. The apparent intent of this design feature is to increase traction when pushing with the shoe not level with the mat.

adidas Mondial wrestling shoe, black with white stripes and trimadidas Mondial. Note the three stripes in the outsole forefoot.

ASICS Counter wrestling shoe, black with white stripesASICS Counter. Features Ghilley lacing and a design where pulling the laces tighter increased stability across the front of the foot.

ASICS "The Baum" wrestling shoe in dark grey, silver, and white ASICS The Baum

Nike Foot Sweep wrestling shoe: white, blue, and red Nike Foot Sweep

Nike Air Reversal wrestling shoe: black, white SWOOSH, red trim Nike Air Reversal

Nike Greco Supreme wrestling shoe: red, white SWOOSH, gray trimNike Greco Supreme (Red)

Nike Greco Supreme wrestling shoe: blue, white SWOOSH, gray trimNike Greco Supreme (Blue)

Examples of Modern Wrestling Shoes:

Recent rule changes call for the shoelace ends to be covered. Many styles have integral lace covers to take care of this requirement.

adidas A'ttaak wrestling shoe: black with silver stripes and trimadidas A'ttaak. This style has extensive ridges that wrap upward from the outsole to facilitate pushing against wrestling mats. This particular style and colorway is notable because it, at one time, was the only wrestling shoe that comes in both male and female versions. ASICS had a female-specific wrestling shoe at the same time with no male counterpart.

ASICS Jackal wrestling shoe: white with black trimASICS Jackal. This is a Fall 2002 model that features an integral lace cover that was basically an ankle strap.

ASICS Split Second V wrestling shoe: black with white stripes and trimASICS Split Second V. This model features an extended tongue that flips over the laces. Hook and loop fasteners then keep the tongue extension in place. This model is similar to the Unrestrained but the outsole is a split into separate toe and heel pieces.

ASICS Unrestrained wrestling shoe, white with black stripes and trimASICS Unrestrained. This model is similar to the Split Second V but the outsole is a single piece.

ASICS "GEL-Assault" wrestling shoe, white with black stripes and trimASICS GEL-Assault. This 2005 style is particularly interesting. The shoe design stuffs the lace ends inside the tongue. Then, an attached flap comes up and over the front of the tongue. Hook and loop fasteners then keep the tongue flap in place.

Nike Speedsweep V wrestling shoe, black with white SWOOSH and trimNike Speedsweep V.

About Wrestling Shoes...

Among athletic shoes, wrestling shoes have always been a fascinating breed apart from all others... kind of like the wrestlers I know:

  1. Competitive wrestling shoes are by definition high-tops. Specific rules that describe competitive wrestling shoes:
  2. They fit tightly, being made of materials that conform well to the foot. Note the "funny red glow" in the Nike Air Reversal? That's because these shoes have a black outer mesh layer with a red lining. The effect is largely lost in a picture.
  3. They are extremely light. Wrestling shoes are optimized for firm ankle support and traction. They're not designed with a lot of shock absorption, as wrestlers generally don't get to take more than a step or two at a time during a match. The Nike Air Reversal (above) is one of the heaviest wrestling shoes made. On the other hand, they are lighter than any other type of high-top shoe.
  4. From what I have seen watching the sport, most grapplers wear adidas or ASICS wrestling shoes. Nike has a small presence in the market; they're not the "800-pound gorilla" they are in most product lines. I remember seeing some Reebok shoes, but not since the late 1990's.
  5. Wrestlers in the 1970's had the choice of wrestling shoes from Bata, Converse (including the "Chuck Taylor Wrestling Shoe"), and Uniroyal (they looked an awful lot like high-top Keds).
  6. Last but not least, they look NEAT in the gym... and they're also very unlikely to slip and slide around! That's why I bought mine!

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Last Updated: 21 July 2017

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