Boxing vs Wrestling – Differences | The complete guide

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Today, there’s a variety of martial arts one can learn. In consequence, getting confused- may be the outcome for many individuals. For instance, some common fighting styles are- Tai chi, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, MMA, and plenty more. Notably, this article will demonstrate the differences between wrestling and boxing

The primary difference between wrestling and boxing is the techniques you learn in each one. While wrestling teaches you both throwing and ground grappling, boxing is the practice of punching both for offensive and defensive purposes. 

This article will demonstrate some common differences between these two fighting styles. But, overall, both are incredible and are suitable for all fighting purposes, including martial arts

Nonetheless, choosing the most suitable one for your desires and in your position will result in you having more enjoyment from training. For example, if you desire to learn to kick, you ought not to choose boxing as your primary martial art.

Before jumping into the post, if you want to learn how to progress outside your fighting gym, I wrote a complete guide to training martial arts at home. I recommend reading it as it’ll grant you many opportunities in this realm. So, let’s continue with this article. 

Differences between wrestling and boxing

Wrestling and boxing are inherently different. Yet, they’re similar in a sense. So, in the following sections, I’ll begin to point out some of each category. If you’re struggling to choose one to study, I have no doubts you’ll find some of your guidelines in the following paragraphs. 

At times, picking which style to practice may be more challenging than the training itself. Thus having a person with previous experience in the area can guide you towards a better decision. 

Wrestling and boxing use different techniques.

It’s no secret that all martial arts have their unique style. Eventually, you choose the one you want to learn primarily by this metric. As a result, you’ll become more capable than ever of making a wiser decision regarding which one to begin studying. 

While wrestling utilizes grappling techniques in all its forms- boxing solely uses punches as its primary fighting technique. As a result, wrestling fighters will become more dynamic. Yet, boxers will learn the craft faster than the wrestlers, as it’s easier to understand. 

Because boxing is the practice of one group of movements (punching), trainees will have a simpler time learning the basics. Hence you can see boxers learning the basics in 2-sessions, which is low compared to the average martial art

The best advice I can give you is that if you’re looking for a relatively uncomplicated martial art, boxing may be the most suitable one for your situation. However, I’ll repeat it a few times throughout this article because it’s an essential point, and I hope you can take it for your knowledge. 

But again, if you desire to learn grappling techniques, you shouldn’t pick boxing. Instead, wrestling will be more suitable for your pursuits. In addition, you’ll learn various movements, such as throwing and ground grappling. Thus if that’s your desire, staying consistent with training- becomes effortless as you’ll enjoy studying the art. 

The following video demonstrates one wrestling technique- effective for self-defense that you can use. 

Boxing is easier-to-learn than wrestling.

As much as I fancy the idea of learning a variety of movements and fighting techniques, there’s something attractive about a solid level of simplicity. You’re more eager to stay consistent with training when you can master a fighting style in under a year. 

Boxing is easier-to-learn than wrestling since it involves a single technique (punching) in many forms. Moreover, punching is effortless since it’s intuitive. Therefore, boxing is less complicated than the average fighting style. Thus learning its basics- takes less time than usual. 

Some may be more attracted to simplicity instead to many fighting techniques. If that’s your desire, I have no doubt you’ll love the art of boxing. However, wrestling may be suitable if you’re looking for a relatively more complicated martial art

The following video demonstrates how uncomplicated boxing may get if you stay consistent with training. It all boils down to whether you’ll put in the required effort to make a difference and change your fighting habits. 

Wrestling is more versatile than boxing.

With the simplicity of boxing comes one of its main disadvantages. Most elite UFC fighters are familiar with boxing. However, it’s never enough since it doesn’t involve a wide variety of techniques. Because of that, it’ll be challenging and somewhat impossible to use boxing movements at elite levels solely. 

Wrestling is more versatile than boxing since it involves various grappling techniques than punching with boxing. As a result, wrestlers will become more complete fighters since they learned a variety of movements- meant for fighting. 

Although that’s the case, I want to emphasize the importance of knowing to box with elite fighters. How can anyone beat one’s opponent without being familiar with throwing a powerful punch to finish the fight? Indeed, it’s an essential skill- ubiquitous at the top levels. 

For self-defense, being more dynamic than the attacker- may be more critical than any other metric. Since street fights hold no rules, the fight can lead to any position, such as standing up or on the ground. Thus it’ll be best if you can function in any given situation. 

At the end of this article, we’ll discuss which martial art is more effective for self-defense. But again, remember that being as dynamic as possible will lead to you being on top of dangerous situations, such as street fights. Thus wrestling does that perfectly. 

Similarities between wrestling and boxing

Thus, we’ve discussed the differences between wrestling and boxing. Yet, at the beginning of this article, I mentioned that they’re similar. The following sections will examine the various similarities they hold. If you’re struggling to choose one to learn, it may significantly assist. 

They’re both effective for self-defense.

One of the most influential attributes many martial arts hold is- they’re effective for self-defense. So let’s examine why wrestling and boxing are suitable for such purposes.

Boxing and wrestling are suitable for self-defense since they incorporate the study of effective fighting techniques. As a result, using them for such purposes will flow naturally and effortlessly the more you train. The methods you’ll learn are punching and grappling. 

Most martial arts teach you valuable skills for such a purpose. For instance, most people believe that Tai chi isn’t suitable for self-defense; it can be incredibly effective with appropriate mentorship

Eventually, it would be best if you learned how to disable the attacker as quickly as possible for self-defense. The better you do that task, the better you’ll be in self-defense. Thus wrestling is highly effective for such a purpose. 

Picture the following scenario; you encounter an attacker while walking down the street. If you know wrestling, you can tackle the unfriendly and close the fight immediately- since you’ll be in a dominant position. 

Moreover, if you know to box, you can throw powerful punches while defending yourself. Thus if the opponent isn’t familiar with martial arts, you can finish the fight in less than 30-seconds. Consequently, both fighting styles are suitable for self-defense. 

Wrestling and boxing provide mental and physical benefits.

According to a study, the following list is the benefits of boxing that published. 

  • Improves balance.
  • Helps posture.
  • Strengthens upper- body and core.
  • Boosts endurance.
  • May increase alertness.
  • Enhances mood.
  • Improves hand-eye coordination.

While a similar study doesn’t exist for wrestling, I can confidently say that you’ll notice some of these benefits if you decide on staying consistent. But unfortunately, the primary issue novice trainees stumble upon is staying consistent- without noticing any results. 

Both boxing and wrestling provide various mental and physical benefits, such as increased confidence and self-esteem, lower stress and aggression levels, and better physical condition. Consequently, one can notice many changes in one’s well-being from martial arts training. 

“Training in martial arts has been shown to alter experiences of control and vulnerability, self-esteem, self-concept, fitness, confidence, and relaxation. As a result, some researchers characterize martial arts practice as a form of self-help.” 


Although this study refers to martial arts as a whole, we can zoom in on specific ones and confidently say that it applies to them. For instance, boxing and wrestling are a form of self-help since they apply to the study. Thus learning them is effective and valuable. 

Is boxing more effective than wrestling?

Comparing two incredible martial arts on their effectiveness- is incredibly challenging. Therefore, this section will try to demonstrate which one is more effective in general. 

Wrestling is more effective than boxing since it teaches techniques that are more suitable for fighting. As a result, wrestlers can disable attackers or opponents in less time than the average boxers, as grappling is a quick and effective technique. 

Judo vs BJJ
Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Moreover, boxing relies on weight more than wrestling. As a result, skinnier people will find it more challenging to disable opponents than in wrestling, which is reliable on weight, yet less than the first. 

Grappling is the single most effective and suitable fighting technique both for fighting and self-defense. You can only cause so much damage with punching. However, you can disable bigger opponents than yourself while using ground and throwing grappling (especially if the opponent is unready to deal with such a technique). 

On the other hand, various boxers can disable attackers as quickly or even quicker than wrestlers- since they’ve mastered the art of striking effectively; as a defense and an offense. 

Thus both martial arts are highly effective, especially for self-defense. However, wrestling is more suitable for such purposes, as it teaches valuable techniques, such as grappling. 

Which is more effective for self-defense, wrestling, or boxing?

When discussing self-defense, we change our perspective a tad bit. Our goal changes from being the best fighter in offense and defense to how rapidly we can disable an attacker effectively. Let’s examine which one is more beneficial for self-defense.

Wrestling is more suitable for self-defense than boxing because it teaches its trainees to grapple effectively. As a result, using a grappling movement on an attacker, mainly if one isn’t ready for it, will give your party a quick advantage. 

Nonetheless, boxing is incredibly beneficial for self-defense since it provides the trainees with sparring that resembles real life. As a result, boxers will be more than prepared to deal with any dangerous situation they’ll face. 

Additionally, many wrestling schools involve such sparring sessions more often than you think. Therefore, one can use the skills one gained in such sparring sessions when tackling real dangerous situations. 

Eventually, self-defense situations range from street fights to dealing with firearms and so forth. As a result, you must become dynamic and prepared for said situations. Then, if you will, dealing with dangerous situations, such as those I mentioned earlier, becomes more manageable. That’s when wrestling excels. 

Which is harder to learn, boxing or wrestling?

If a martial art is uncomplicated and easy to learn, one will have an easier time understanding it. The time until the practitioner can use the movements one learned shortens. Therefore, how simple a fighting style is- can be a reliable metric to follow if you’re struggling to choose one to practice. 

Boxing is one of the easiest-to-learn martial art since it’s the practice of simple fighting techniques (punching). As a result, studying wrestling is more challenging than boxing. For instance, it may only be 2-sessions until you can use the techniques for self-defense. 

best martial arts for fitness
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Although that ought not to be the deciding factor when choosing which one to learn, it may assist you in understanding the two martial arts. Hence if you’re interested in learning a simple fighting style, boxing will be most suitable. 

However, if you desire to study many grappling techniques so you can use them for self-defense, consider beginning to practice wrestling.

I must mention that learning any martial art- is incredibly challenging. Most people fail to stay consistent, as it’s the most challenging part of the job. It’ll be best if you’re set not to notice any results and invest plenty of effort. That’s natural since it’s the start, and it’ll take time and effort to notice substantial results. 

Should I train in boxing or wrestling first?

When deciding which fighting style you want to learn, it’ll help if you think of your desired goals. For example, if you wish to participate in a sports activity, your choice will be different from if you want to be the best fighter. 

If you desire to learn grappling techniques in all their forms, wrestling is most suitable. However, if you wish to study the art of punching, both for the offense and defense, boxing is a great fit. That said, both are suitable for self-defense and fighting purposes. 

I’ve been practicing boxing for the past couple of years. At first, I wanted to learn fighting techniques (punching- specifically), so I chose it.

As time went on, I began using boxing as a sport. Therefore, my goal wasn’t to become the best fighter. Personally, it worked for me since this martial art is suitable for both purposes. However, if your goals are different, consider choosing one that’ll be more suitable.

Is wrestling effective in street fights?

Street fights are the primary scenario one must prepare for when wanting to learn to use self-defense. Overall, it’s the perfect example of a fighting scenario since it holds no rules. Consequently, you can use any technique to come out on top. 

Wrestling is effective in street fights since it teaches valuable techniques- suitable for self-defense and most scenarios. As a result, you can use the grappling movements you’ll learn as your primary offensive method. Thus disabling any opponent becomes easier. 

Most martial arts are beneficial for street fights because it’s their core purpose. People constructed martial arts to teach others fighting techniques if you think about it. 

Take Karate for an example; People constructed it to teach the people of Okinawa Island in Japan self-defense. As a result, the movements will be fittable for street fights. Essentially, it’s the same for all martial arts that this was their first purpose. 

Now let’s return to wrestling; it’s the art of grappling. In fact, you’ll find the most techniques more than any martial art. For instance, Jiu-Jitsu is another example of an incredible fighting style that teaches grappling techniques. However, wrestling includes more movements than BJJ

Final words

Learning any martial art- is a wise choice because it provides numerous physical and mental benefits. For instance, if you practice fighting consistently, expect your confidence and self-esteem to skyrocket. Additionally, you can anticipate your physical condition improving. 

Both boxing and wrestling are fantastic martial arts- suitable both for self-defense and as a sport. Hence anyone can enjoy and benefit from learning them. However, while the first is the art of punching, the second is the craft of grappling in many forms.

If there’s a single piece of advice I’d like you to take with you- simply begin practicing any fighting style. Overthinking choosing one- may get more complex than the training itself. However, if you start your training as soon as possible, you’ll notice results and benefits flowing earlier than if you were to delay activity. 


I've served in the military as a special forces operator for 4-years. In that period, I've trained in many martial arts, including karate, MMA, BJJ, boxing, and even Krav Maga. I want to share my passion with you, so here it is!

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