What Kind of Boxing Shoes to Use, and Why?


Boxing shoes, or boxing boots, for those who like alliteration, are any pair of shoes that are made for the sport of boxing. It might sound like I just said nothing helpful, but it’s important to distinguish boxing shoes as a sport-specific shoe, designed and optimized for the physical demands of boxing. This article will cover what attributes they typically have, when you should use them, and what factors you might consider when purchasing a pair.

Why Get Shoes Specific to Boxing?

Although not all of us have the money to buy a nice, new pair, it is important to have sport-specific shoes because of two reasons: they allow you to perform at your best, and they maintain your safety. The first reason is about optimizing your performance. You don’t want your shoes to hold you back, definitely not to get in the way. The second is about staying safe and being responsible. In a sport where someone is out to hurt you–to assert their power over you–it’s grossly irresponsible at best not to wear boxing shoes.

For example, your feet generates the power for your punch, and they need to be stable to deliver all of the power (i.e. kinetic force). If you are boxing in squishy and often elevated running shoes, you will still be settling down as you start to punch, making your punch weaker than it should be and using more energy than you should use. If you are boxing in wrestling shoes, which has more traction and tread optimized for quick bursts of movement, you will be facing more resistance in our punch pivot, expending more energy as well.

Attributes of a Boxing Shoe

For the most part, boxing shoes have very similar characteristics.

  • Lightweight
  • Ankle support
  • Close to ground
  • Superficial tread
  • Predominantly uni-directional tread
  • Low to Moderate Durability

Not every shoe has certain common characteristics, such as mid-rise ankle support or non-existent midsoles, because these features depend on which fighting style the shoe is engineered for. Boxing shoes designed for cutting, getting angles, or close-range fighting would have multi-directional tread and low-rise or mid-rise ankle support. Boxing shoes designed for sustained lateral or repeated one-directional movements or mid-range to long-range fighting would have mid-rise to high-rise ankle support and uni-directional tread.

When to Wear Boxing Shoes

In general, boxing shoes should be used on reasonably smooth surfaces for mitt work, bag work, footwork drills, any type of sparring, and competition. And generally, boxing shoes should not be used for strength and conditioning because they are typically not very durable (for anything outside of boxing), restrict ankle mobility, and offer poor shock absorption for your joints.

However, there are exceptions: to start, some boxers have separate pairs for training and competition. This strategy maximizes their performance during training while also preserving a pair for maximum performance while competing. Additionally, some pairs offer cross-training capabilities (ex. Nike Free HyperKO Shield Trainer). Here’s another (very common) reason to wear boxing shoes outside of boxing-specific activities: if strength and conditioning involves predominantly boxing movements (ex. jumping rope or plyometric ball throws), boxing shoes are ideal.

What to Look for When Buying Boxing Shoes

  • For all types of fighting styles:
    • Arch support that works for you
    • Snug fit
    • Mesh upper (breathable) or genuine leather (durable)
    • Predominantly uni-directional tread
    • Stylish
  • For aggressive boxer-punchers,
    • mid-top or low-top shoes
    • multi-directional tread
    • minimal sole height/elevation
  • For counter-punchers or pure boxers,
    • mid-top or high-top shoes
    • uni-directional tread
    • minimal to slight sole height/elevation

This article aims to give you general guidelines and considerations when selecting a pair of boxing shoes. Nothing here is set in stone, especially considering that boxing shoes continually evolve. However, nothing will change the fact that boxing shoes are one of the most essential components to the sport and your performance.

Author: Le Ho

I am currently a law student at the University of North Carolina Law School. As an undergraduate, I boxed for Carolina and earned its first men's national championship title.

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