A wrestling shoe book was a major decision for Norwin graduate Drew Phipps

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If the shoe fits… write a book about it.

That’s what collector Drew Phipps did to share his unbridled passion for something most take for granted. Something many will never give a second thought to.

Wrestling shoes.

Not baseball cards, coins or comics. Phipps has been collecting wrestling shoes for nearly 12 years and he couldn’t wait to tell the world about them.

Call his idea of ​​putting a longtime devotion into pocket form a major decision.

The former Norwin and Bucknell rug standout leaves an imprint among other aficionados.

In a 187-page paperback titled “The Wrestling Shoe Handbook: For Wrestling Shoe Fanatics,” Phipps outlines the history of wrestling shoes, from vintage origins and styles to modern looks. He highlights his favorite brands and models, categorizes them and shows different types of shoes in dozens of colorful photos.

He appeals to both the split-sole and solid-sole camps and even offers insider tips for other fanatics who want to wrestle in this space.

“Whether you’re a dedicated shoe collector striving to learn more about the intricate history, or simply a parent looking for the best wrestling shoe for your child,” Phipps writes on the back cover, ” The book is made for you.”

Phipps, an assistant wrestling trainer at Seton Hill, could pull on wrestling shoes from his collection every day for several months and not wear the same pair twice.

He admits to being more amateur than virtuoso, but his enthusiasm for his hobbies is clear in the exclamation marks throughout the book.

His enthusiasm and obvious fandom are the laces that tie the joyous project together.

“I’ve been passionate about buying, selling, trading and collecting wrestling shoes since I was in college,” Phipps said. “I realized that there was no real documentation of the history of wrestling shoes. While I don’t claim to be an expert, I do think I have a pretty good understanding of how wrestling shoes wrestling have changed and evolved over time.

His affinity began in college when wrestlers contacted him on the image hosting site, Flickr, to inquire about the few shoes he had worn to matches. This opened the door to his curious hobby.

“I quickly got engulfed,” he wrote, adding candidly, “The wrestling shoe culture slowly started to take over my life.”

Step by step, Phipps takes carpet shoe enthusiasts on a journey that begins in the 1960s, twists and turns through the decades and changes in shoe technology, and reaches modern styles that are splashed with color and style. swag.

He ranks the most expensive styles, like the classic 1988 Ringersteifel Combats that retails for $2,500 to adidas gear at $1,500, to Nike’s Olympic-edition Inflicts at $800.

Phipps owned a pair of Nike Combats, considered by collectors to be the holy grail of the market.

Mat shoes originally sold for less than $10 in the 1960s, he notes, and this came about after the barefoot era ended.

“Since I love this hobby, I thought it would be great to finally get some kind of documentation on paper that might also help others who are interested in it,” Phipps said. “I understand that it’s definitely a niche market that I’m advertising to, but that’s fine with me. Hopefully it can improve the understanding of others who are already into the shoe game and maybe even attract more people.

He even offers tips for those looking for soles, like using sandpaper on old shoes to get fresh traction.

Phipps has a popular Instagram page, @drewrestler_shoes, where he displays and sells wrestling shoes and gear and shares his thoughts with like-minded followers — more than 15,000 of them.

“I know there are definitely people who are interested in the same things as me,” Phipps said.

Phipps said he owns around 100 pairs of wrestling shoes – a number that fluctuates as he buys, sells and trades.

“During this journey, I have owned some of the rarest wrestling shoes known to man,” Phipps said. “Sometimes people don’t realize how rare or valuable old wrestling shoes are. What one person may consider a pair of dilapidated shoes, the footwear community may consider a true gem or a piece of history.

The book sells for around $22 and is available on Amazon.com.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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