Many people are under the impression that training, hard work, dedication, technique, strength, will power, and athleticism are some of the more important factors when it comes to being successful at wrestling. While those are certainly a part of the equation, a large piece, if not the most important, are the shoes you wear on your feet. Not all shoes are going to help you win, but there are certainly a couple that will help you decide your own fate before even stepping on the line.
The Dan Gable Ultraflex's were certainly my first understanding of this phenomenon. It's an interesting discovery when you notice that not just most of the people wearing these shoes are good, but EVERY SINGLE ONE is good. Not just good though, great. You literally couldn't own a pair if you weren't deserving of them. Often times when someone wearing these shoes lost, it was to someone else wearing the the DGU's. Another example of these when I was growing up were the original Combat Speeds.
They have since come out with the remix of these shoes, and now everyone has them, but in the early 2000's, these were only for legit wrestlers. Like the DGU's, these were almost entirely worn by absolute monsters. The one difference with these and the DGU's is that somehow, someway, these were worn by both great wrestlers, and terrible wrestlers. There was no in between. No average wrestlers or even slightly above or below average wrestlers wore them. Just great and terrible. More closely related to the DGU's in the Adidas world were the Sydney 2000's.
'm not sure color made an impact, as they came in a variety of colors, but everyone wearing these was willing and capable of destroying there opponents in the most painful ways possible. These days there aren't as many standout shoes as there were back in the day. The general rule appears to be the more old school the shoe, the more bad ass you are. Shoes that were run of the mill in 2003, are now a symbol that you are unstoppable. Another symbol is success is often the expense of the shoe. If they ran you $150 or more, chances are (but it's certainly not indicative) you are capable of being successful on the mat.
Nike's are generally very clear when figuring out if they are good or not. The above shoes certainly mean that they are probably going to beat you. These next shoes, not so much.
In between it's hit or miss. Generally speaking, if you can buy the shoes at an MC Sports or a Dunhams, it means that you are new to wrestling, and therefore not going to have all of the attributes we mentioned at the top of this editorial. If your parents buy you the least expensive shoes, chances are they also don't think you will be good. If you've been around the sport long enough to acquire old school shoes, you will be more likely to have acquired the mentality, and footwear, to dominate in style. Next time you are warming up for your match, check out your opponents kicks. It should give you an idea of just how hard you are going to have to work. If you are wrestling someone wearing these, say your prayers.