What do wrestlers wear under their singlets?

Wrestling as a sport has been practised for thousands of years.  The paintings in ancient Egyptian tombs show wrestlers fighting in long loincloths that came down to their knees.  When the Greeks introduced wrestlers to their Olympic Games in 708 BC, the combatants competed naked.  In the 1920s, grapplers fought in high waisted tights.  In more modern times, wrestlers fight in a stretchy all-in-one costume called a singlet.   One question beginners often ask is ‘what do wrestlers wear under their singlet?’.


The Wrester’s Singlet

A wrestling singlet (link to Amazon) is essentially the uniform worn by amateur wrestlers.  It’s made of lycra which makes it extremely close fitting.  It looks like a tight fitting pair of shorts and vest but, in fact, it’s a single piece item. The lycra fabric is stretchy and allows the limbs of the body to move freely. 

Wrestling Singlets

In other martial arts, the combatants wear a loose fitting jacket and trouser combination called a ‘Gi’.  These are typically quite loose and allow the were to execute punches and kicks without being restricted by the fabric of the uniform  itself. 

In wrestling, the close fitting uniform allows the referee to see clearly what is happening during a match enabling them to award either points or a pin.  

It also prevents the fighters grabbing hold of uniform when trying to throw or pin their opponent.  In contrast to a sport like BJJ or Judo, grabbing the clothing during a match is strictly banned in amateur wrestling.

Typically, the wrestlers at high school and college will wear singlets that feature their team’s colors.  Each competitor during a match will wear either red or green anklets  to enable scores to be recorded.

In other competition settings, for instance in international wrestling or the Olympics, each contestant will either wear a blue or red singlet.

Singlets are also worn by professional wrestlers such as those in the WWE but these are typically much more intricately  designed than their amateur counterparts.

When did wrestling singlets start being worn?

Prior to the mid-1960s, wrestlers wore trunks and tights when fighting.  The National Collegiate Athletic Association banned topless wrestling during the 60s and it was only then that the singlet started to become popular in amateur wrestling.

Styles of Singlet

There are three designs of Singlet

The High Cut – this vest part covers most of the chest area and reaches almost to the armpits on the side.

The FILA Cut – is very similar to the high-cut but does quite come up so high on the sides.

The Low Cut – The vest area only comes up the the middle of the stomach area before the straps divide and run upwards over each shoulder and then merge into a thin strap on the back.  This style of singlet cannot be worn at official competitions, such as the Olympics.

Do wrestlers wear underwear?

In a study of 440 wrestlers, 41% said that they wore nothing under their singlet; 31% wore a jock strap; 12% wore compression shorts, and 9% wore briefs.  Wrestlers need permission to wear a T-shirt under their singlets and this is usually only for hygiene reasons, such as acne on the chest and back.

The jockstrap used to be mandatory in collegiate wrestling but it’s popularity has waned considerably.  

This is largely down to changing trends and fashions but also the youth training rules have been modified meaning that at least briefs have to be worn  when weighing in.  Previously jock straps could be worn when stepping onto the scales.


Do wrestlers wear cups?

Wrestlers are not allowed to wear cups under their singlets.  Not only is this strickly prohibited under wrestling regulations, but also wearing a cup also restricts your movement, hampering your wrestling agility.


What else do wrestlers wear?

In addition to wearing a singlet, amateur wrestlers will also typically wear ear guards (like the ones here on Amazon).  These are shallow, plastic cups that fit over the ears and held in place by straps that go round the back, top and front of the head.  In the United States, the wearing of headgear is mandatory.

This headgear protects the ears from the bashing that they would otherwise be subjected to.  If it’s not worn, then the delicate blood vessels in the ears can burst or rupture during a grappling session.  This can result in sacs of blood forming in the ears.  Over time, the ears can be permanently disfigured and the shell of the ear becomes covered in large lumps, resulting in a condition known as cauliflower ear. 

Amateur wrestlers also wear wrestling shoes (such as the ones here on Amazon).  These light weight shoes provide more ankle support than would be experienced training barefoot. 

In summary, what do wrestlers wear under their singlets?

There are a number of options of what can be worn under a wrestling singlet: a jock strap, compression shorts, and briefs  However, most wrestlers prefer to wear absolutely nothing.

It’s probably best to try all the various options to see what’s most comfortable for you.

Happy training!!!


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