Boxing vs Wrestling: A Fair & Comprehensive Sports Comparison

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Last Updated on February 21, 2021

Today I will pin two of the most iconic disciplines of fighting against each other in the ring… Wrestling vs boxing - the ultimate showdown. 

If you're reading this article, you've probably made up your mind to join martial arts or further your career in it, in either case, kudos!


If you brush through a few websites or ask for the opinion of the disciples of each sport, you will come across remarks describing their field as ‘the best.’ 

Spoiler alert!!!...

There is no such thing as ‘the best’ when it comes to martial arts.

Each technique is designed to train you in a certain way, and the one that suits your needs better is the most preferable in your case. My point is that I will not declare a winner, instead, I will simply state which form of fighting is better suited for various situations.

Enough pep talk, let’s kick it off.

Main Differences Between Boxing vs Wrestling

The main differences between boxing vs wrestling are:

  • Boxing involves punching and avoiding such strikes, whereas wrestling is more open-ended, joining several aspects of fighting under one umbrella such as grapples, kicking, punching, and locking to name a few.
  • In boxing, there is no tackling or kicking, whereas, in wrestling, tackles are often employed to take down the opponent.
  • Boxers usually have a defensive approach interspersed with punches, whereas wrestling is more offensive and involves grappling techniques too.
  • Boxing can be done at an amateur level and a professional one, whereas wrestling is either folk style, depending on the region, or international with standardized rules.
  • Boxing matches don’t last that long, whereas wrestling matches can go on for some time.
  • Boxers use padded gloves and mouth guards, whereas wrestlers use headgears to safeguard their necks.

Comparing The Premises

Both of these are well-reputed and highly competitive fighting sports, however, both are different in several aspects. Let’s start this wrestling vs boxing comparison from the difference in their premises:


Wrestling exists in several forms, each with its own set of rules, however, some generalizations can be made. It is a competitive fighting sport that involves punches, kicks, throws, grapples, locks, tackles, takedowns, and so on.

Grappling is a major component of the fights, with the ultimate goal being overpowering your opponent. Normally, you don’t have to beat up the other player, however, that can and does happen in some cases. But usually, the damage is minimal.

The styles and rules vary not only from sport to sport but also among various regions. Several local versions of the game (called folk wrestling) exist too, however, at an international level, the rules are standardized.


Boxing is a much more brutal sport, although in some cases wrestling matches tend to get out of control too. The goal, in this case, is to either knock out the opponent with a decisive punch to the face or score more points by the end of the last round.

Players can only use punches to strike the opponent and that too above the belt, otherwise, they will be penalized. Each round lasts for three minutes, and in most cases, a fight will have three rounds in total. 

Although you only use punches, it doesn't necessarily mean that you just wear your mouthguard and gloves for the fight. Kicking is not allowed, but you also have to keep a good balance and your best footwork. So be also mindful of your best shoes for boxing training and fights. Makes proper sense, right? 🙂

In case no one was knocked out by the end of the last round, the judges will decide the winner based on the scores. The scoring principle is simple: hit but don’t get hit.


Based on the type of approach that resonates with you, you can make the decision, it is a matter of preference above anything else.

Comparison For Self-Defense

For self-defense, both sports are effective to a certain degree, let’s find out how:


If you've been trained well, you should have no trouble taking care of a street mugger or someone who's had a little too much to drink. A wrestler will be more than capable of restraining an attacker or grappling him without causing any long-term damage.

However, if things turn to a nasty fistfight, grappling moves are not going to save you, boxing will.


As a boxer, you will be able to return a punch for every strike. But in most cases, boxing matches can get nasty and when the same is replicated on a street fight, you might be looking at serious legal repercussions, such as battery charges.

The legal complications may put you in more trouble than you were at the time of the confrontation. Moreover, in a standard fight, both players agree to certain rules but the same cannot be said about a street confrontation.


Wrestling is much more practical when it comes to self-defense. No matter how you look at it, in a boxer vs wrestler street fight, the latter is bound to gain the upper hand, but there is a catch: it is also much harder to learn.

Also, in case things go down to a fistfight, only a boxer will be able to avoid a nasty beating while inflicting maximum damage upon the attacker. But at the same time, this brutality can come back to haunt you later in the manifestation of legal issues.

Best to avoid a fight when you can. 😉

Comparison For Fitness Training

If we pin wrestling vs boxing for fitness, both will prove equally effective.

The arduous training process in either case is bound to keep you in good shape and improve your health too. The warm-up for some wresting disciplines may seem a bit hard to follow but it is pretty doable once you get a hang of it.

Bottom Line: Which One To Choose?

When it comes to a boxer vs wrestler street fight (not two players pinned against each other but individually involved in a confrontation), nothing is predictable. A crook or a drunk offender will not play by any rules, and it is best to neutralize them quickly and escape.

The difference between boxing and wrestling exists not only because these sports play out differently but also due to the historical gap between them. During this time, wrestling has evolved into multiple forms while boxing has remained more or less uniform.

Ideally, you'd want to learn both of them, but if you have to learn one in a short period, boxing is the way to go, however, if you can dedicate enough time, wresting will be very rewarding.

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