Gold Cup, Kanama weightlifting shoes

Gold Cup

These shoes are great. For anyone looking for basic shoes for Olympic weightlifting or powerlifting, or just good shoes for heavy lifting at a great price.

This was my first weightlifting shoe. At $85, it's one of the best deals on the Internet. From Toronto Weightlifting. Made in China. Wooden sole. Fits my narrow foot nicely. It has a flat footbed, nothing fancy (see the Vanama for some innovation here). Least expensive choice I could find, and they ship for free, even to the U.S. These shoes are terrific. I had to exchange the first pair they sent me; I ordered the European equivalent of my normal U.S. dress shoe size, and they were too small. Know and order in your European size for best fit. The exchange went smoothly. These are 1/4" wider than Adidas, they tell me. They lasted me two years, and would last longer if I could part with them long enough to get the strap repaired. Scroll down for wear and damage details.

The Kanama

When the time came, I replaced my Gold Cup shoes with the Kanama, an original design from the same small company. I am thrilled with the Kanama. The difference between this shoe and the Gold Cup makes the $129 price tag seem like a great value. This shoe was designed by Hani Kanama, the owner of Toronto Weightlifting. I spoke with him about this shoe. He's very proud of it. He said he worked for three years on this shoe, with a team of ten designers in the Thailand factory they're produced. It provides more ankle support than the Gold Cup, which he says can be especially important for American lifters, who tend to have flexibility issues there. He is very proud of the high-grade Italian leather, which he said will mold to the foot in just about four work outs, and fit better after a year of wear than when first purchased.

I'm thrilled with mine. They are only slightly wider than the Gold Cup. I lace them snugly and cinch down the strap for a close fit, but there are a couple of gentle wrinkles that tell me these would fit normal widths just fine. The footbed is amazing - it's sort of a reverse arch, on the outside of the foot, to keep you from tipping to either side. The sole is some hard textile; it may encapsulate wood, or it may be solid, but either way, it's good. The strap feels heavy duty, and the Velcro covers the entire inside of the strap, so I expect he addressed the strap weaknesses in the Gold Cup. These shoes look great. The charcoal navy color is very tasteful. There are little touches that make this shoe look and feel great, like it is the product of much thought and care.

Here's a bold promise: Hani said if anyone likes their Adidas shoes better, he or she can exchange them, no problem. Whoa. He said they've been getting lots of good feedback on these shoes.

And about the Thailand factory - without my asking, Hani assured me their labor conditions are good, including air conditioning. He said it was important to him, and he had seen the factory himself.

Hani was exceptionally nice and helpful, and the shoes are great. While the Gold Cup is a good basic shoe that will serve you well for a couple of years, if you're hovering around the $100 mark, I'd definately make the jump for this shoe, especially if you plan to compete.

Weightlifting shoe round-up

There are only a few choices for Olympic weightlifting shoes.

Toronto Weightlifting offers the Gold Cup for $85 and the Kanama for $129. Independently owned by an old timer weightlifter. Supremely helpful, excellent service. Free shipping to Canada and U.S.
  • Adidas is what the pros usually wear. Beau coup bucks but the most narrow, and people love them. Two styles - $149.00 and $199.00 online at Dynamic Fitness Equipment, a small, trusted and helpful company. Be sure to check their clearance shoes for a great deal.
  • Power Firm is a guy in Canada who sells shoes made in Poland. They're slightly less expensive than Adidas, and look solid. The guy gives good personal service, has you trace your foot on paper for a good fit, and people love them (but they're extra wide, so not for me).
  • DoWin shoes are narrower than WerkSan's, but not as narrow as Adidas. It's best to know your European size in order to order. Relatively affordable. Sources are changing at this writing, so please post in the comments if you know of a steady source.
  • VS Athletics offers two styles of their own, a great price, comparatively speaking, at $72.00. Wider than average American shoes. Soles are not made from wood, but rather a hard rubber material.
  • Werksan - extremely helpful, I'd definitely try them again if I needed something. They actually steered me away from their shoes and onto others, because of my narrow foot. How helpful is that? They sell one style of VS Athletics, plus a Wan Hoa (Chinese weightlifting team shoe), for $79.00 each. They have been known to sell DoWin shoes as well.
  • Pendlay Barbell says it plans to shuck all its DoWins by end of 2009 and replace them with their Pendlay Barbell 2010 Series, but in actuality, the new shoe is made by DoWin for Pendlay. They launched the first shoe in August and plan to add more colors by November. There is little information, only that is improved to add stability and support. Width is standard for DoWins - wide. $129.00, launching for $109.00

Note - People used to order from O WOW - Olympic Lifting on the Web - but they no longer sell shoes. They referred me to Werksan.

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Wear update on my Gold Cup shoes, 18 months after purchase

They've worn well. Soles are great, still attached. Body has only slightly loosened, only gentle creasing at toes. Where these have become damaged is in the straps - the Velcro has separated from the leather. This photo shows the early stages. Once it started to separate, it peeled off quickly - each time I drew the strap through the ring. Then one day I was competing in the state championships, and Poof! I had Velcro in one hand and my shoe in the other. A paperclip kept the strap firmly in place for my lifts. The second one I just ripped off soon after. Paperclips are keeping them both secure! The straps could be easily repaired by a cobbler, if only I could part with the shoes long enough.


Anonymous said...

try also vs athletics - $65 :) - just got my pair ... I think they are rebadged do-wins

Anonymous said...

sorry it's me again - forgot to include the link to the site - ...and they are now $59.95 :)

~The Mighty Kat~ said...

They look nice. Double straps. Good price.

Anonymous said...

wow, THANK you for this tiny but invaluable tidbit! I'm a CrossFitter pricing weightlifting shoes and BOY is it a jungle. I realize why all my friends tout the Adidas, they have super narrow feet. NOT ME! haha so I see by your candid comparison, which brands I should lean toward. THANKS!!

~The Mighty Kat~ said...

Delighted to hear this. Thanks for letting me know!

Anonymous said...

You indicate the adidas weightlifting shoes are not available online, but I found them at

If you search with google for adidas weightlifting shoes they seem to be the first web site listed.

~The Mighty Kat~ said...

Thanks so much for the link. I've edited the post to include it.