While you might see Boxers wearing Boxing shoes during Saturday night’s pay-per-view in a live fight, it doesn’t necessarily reflect what they do in training and leading up to a fight.
Maybe you can’t afford these overpriced Boxing shoes, or just want to know if it’s optimal to train Boxing without shoes? Here’s the short answer:
You can do Boxing without shoes. Many fighters across Boxing and MMA train barefoot. For Boxers, it helps them to train without shoes because it helps the small muscles of their feet and ankles not become overly dependent on the shoes which could lead to more injuries.
To learn more about why it’s actually a good idea to train Boxing without shoes (and sometimes why not) then keep reading!
Do You Have To Wear Shoes In Boxing?
You only have to wear shoes during a Boxing match as they are a formally required piece of equipment for a sanctioned fight. But you don’t have to wear shoes in Boxing training or leading up to a fight.
While many Boxers will wear sports sneakers or specially designed Boxing shoes during their training sessions, it isn’t a requirement to do so as Boxing without shoes is pretty normal.
Though in a lot of classic Boxing gyms, they will make Boxing shoes a required part of their training kit for students and fighters because it has been the known method for such a long time. Alongside hand wraps, cups, and headgear.
So don’t be surprised if when you try to get into Boxing and are planning to train barefoot; some coaches might send you away and tell you to get your kit sorted first.
Sometimes Boxing Shoes can be called Boxing Boots, so throughout this article, you can swap out either interchangeably.
Do Boxers Wear Socks?
Boxers will always wear socks with their Boxing shoes to minimize chaffing and blisters. Socks can add an extra level of comfort in wearing Boxing shoes but don’t always prevent skin scrapes.
If you aren’t wearing Boxing shoes, then you don’t need to wear Boxing socks and you could train by going barefoot.
Why Are Boxing Shoes So High?
Boxing shoes often rise high up the ankle to offer an added level of ankle support. The extra support to the ankle can allow the fighter to use their footwork to step around their opponent in aggressive angles and pivot into striking positions.
Boxing shoes are usually Hi-Top versions to give this ankle support, but it is possible to get Lo-Top Boxing shoes as well to allow a Boxer to train more on their speed work as it offers more flexibility around the ankles at the risk of less ankle support.
Do Boxing Shoes Make A Difference?
Wearing specially designed Boxing shoes, instead of sneakers, gives the fighter a better connection to the ground and also offers ankle support which becomes important in a fight where both opponents are constantly pivoting.
It’s also important to train in Boxing shoes if you plan to participate in a live fight as you will need to wear them on the night in most promotions.
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Boxing shoes are a standard piece of the Boxing fight kit, which is different from most other martial arts.
In my personal opinion, you can train well in Boxing by going barefoot. I’ve trained in MMA gyms for the last few years and almost always been barefoot, including in Boxing sessions. But this can depend on your gym as a mixed martial arts gym has styles like Muay Thai and BJJ which are barefoot arts and so the expectation of any sports shoes is simply optional.
Boxing Barefoot: Better Or Worse?
For some people, it can actually help them to learn Boxing and improve their skills while barefoot. Being barefoot gives the fighter a better connection and feeling to the ground which can help them develop responsiveness for footwork.
Many fighters across other martial arts such as Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Karate, and MMA will practice barefoot the majority of the time.
Other martial arts find the benefits in training – and even fighting – barefoot because it gives them the ultimate feeling and connection with the ground and maneuvering around an opponent.
As someone who has trained across different styles of fighting, myself, such as Boxing, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu I can tell you that I find training barefoot in any martial art a great method of improving my connection to the floor and building up strength and endurance in the small muscles of my feet and ankles.
If you are always relying on Boxing shoes to support your ankles or protect your feet then how can you expect your feet to actually become stronger on their own?
Boxing has traditionally been practiced and fought while wearing Boxing shoes but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s because it’s the best way. After all, Boxing has been around for a long time but developed mostly in Western societies which are more prone to overusing equipment. In Eastern societies, like where most other martial arts were born, going barefoot is seen as the standard and norm.
One thing you might need to be cautious of is sparring with an opponent who is wearing Boxing shoes when you aren’t. They might stand on your feet or catch your toes more often than you’d like while they don’t have to worry about it so much – so it could put you at a slight disadvantage if you have a habit of getting your feet in a fumble.
Why Do Fighters Fight Barefoot?
In many fighting sports such as Muay Thai or MMA, fighters will fight barefoot because it is how they have trained to have a connection with the ground. It’s also because of how traditional martial arts are practiced with little to no equipment which is honored by fight promotions.
Generally, across mixed martial arts, the aim is to put fights on which have the least required amount of protective equipment to see who is the ultimate fighter in an as-natural method as possible.
By now you should have a good idea of whether Boxing without shoes is a good idea or not and I hope you’ll consider mixing up your training with and without shoes as going barefoot offers plenty of advantages in improving your feet and ankle stability!
Joe Bloom is the lead author and editor of MMA Hive. Joe has been a passionate mixed martial artist in training since 2019, having studied Boxing and Muay Thai at BaliMMA and Soma Fight Club, as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with RitualsJJ.