Custom Wrestling Shoes - A Beginner's Guide
Custom wrestling shoes are exactly what they sound like, they're shoes that are customized by the owners or professionals who specialize in this art to be unique to the person ordering them. This could be swapping out an old sole on a shoe with a new sole from another shoe after your shoe had blown out. This could also be as extreme as painting a school's logo onto the shoe or stitching it into place.
Where to Get Custom Wrestling Shoes
There are many places to get custom shoes done nowadays. Where you go should really depend on what you're looking to do.
For completely custom shoes, I personally recommend Tough Sole Swaps, as he does completely custom wrestling shoes that actually embroider fabric onto the shoe. These shoes will last much longer than other customization methods such as using fabric paint. The shoes I have seen from Tough Sole Swaps appear to be something that was manufactured as they are because the seams on the shoes are flawless.
Pictured below is a screenshot from their instagram, which can be found at https://www.instagram.com/toughsoleswaps/. These are my recommendation most of the time when someone is looking to get custom wrestling shoes made.
The other option I recommend is Daniel Ortiz, who is https://www.instagram.com/dodolovesthekids/ on instagram. To my knowledge, he customizes shoes via paint of some sort rather than by sewing on new material, fabric, or soles.
His work looks realistic and is extremely clean. The only downfall I could see with these shoes is that the paint would probably wear a lot more than a fabric option.
In recent years, a TON of big name wrestlers have turned to him for custom wrestling shoes. It seems to be a growing trend at the NCAA tournament. Bryce Meredith, Austin Desanto, Darian Cruz, Kevin Jack, and Zahid Valencia have all worn shoes customized by him at the NCAA tournament.
Other legends of the sport such as Olympic Champions Kendall Cross and Jordan Burroughs have rocked his shoes. Pictured below is a picture from his instagram of Kendall Cross rocking the custom shoes that were made for him. He used a pair of Adidas Varner II wrestling shoes to replicate a pair of the shoes that Kendall wore back in the 90s when he competed.
Although I've never personally had customized shoes done by either of the two above, those are the two I would turn to for getting them done.
What To Consider About Custom Wrestling Shoes
If you plan on reselling a pair of wrestling shoes, customizations may not be the right route. Especially for rare shoes, I never recommend customizations. Even things like cutting off the lace covers can influence the resell value. As with anything, a general rule of thumb is that the more original it is, the more it's ultimately worth.
If you plan on getting something such as your school logo or high school mascot embroidered, keep in mind likely nobody is going to want them after the customizations are done. Unless of course you wrestle for a big name university, then they may be.
Other customizations, such as sole swapping a pair of shoes with blown out soles, will make the shoe wearable again, which most of the time will increase their resale value. That said, unless the soles of the shoes are blown out, the original sole will be worth more than the sole swapped version.
What Types of Wrestling Shoes Can Be Customized?
I've seen numerous styles of wrestling shoes customized, however, the most common shoes to customize are:
- Adidas Varner IIs
- Nike Inflicts 3s
- Nike Freeks
- Adidas Combat Speed 4s and 5s
- Asics JB Elite 3s
Other shoes, that are less commonly customized, but are often customized after they have sole blow outs and need repairs are:
- Nike "OG" Inflicts
- Nike Kolat Speeds
- Nike Kolat 2k4s
- Original Combat Speeds
Most rare shoes that are customized are generally custom because the soles had major flaws.
Questions About Custom Wrestling Shoes?
Custom wrestling shoes are by no means my area of expertise. If you have questions about custom wrestling shoes, I suggest contacting someone who specializes in it, especially if you're looking to have a pair of shoes customized. At times, I do purchase custom wrestling shoes. If you're looking to find a pair, there may be some in my inventory of shoes, which can be found here.