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What is Ape Index?

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Ape index is the measurement of reach to height disproportion. An average human has a reach (arm span, wingspan), which is roughly equal to the height of the individual, this is proportionate reach and height.

A large ape index signifies a reach which is disproportionately longer than the height. Conversely, a negative ape index means a disproportionately shorter reach for the given height.

But why is it called "ape" index?

That's because the measurement was popularized by the rock-climbing community, where the activity is close to the brachiating apes, who have disproportionately long arms. The concept of comparing reach to height itself is not new.

How to measure ape index

Ape index can either be expressed as the ratio of reach to height or as the difference between reach and height:

Example: A person with a height of 180 cm and a reach of 187 cm has an ape index of 1.038888888888889 (187 divided by 180) or 7 cm (187 minus 180).

While a unitless ratio is "universal" in nature, the involvement of decimals can make it hard for humans to mentally picture the actual value. Making use of centimeters to express the difference gives a more tangible picture. Use of inches will also result in significant decimals, so it is a good idea to go with centimeters.

Ape Index calculator

Height Reach

Ape Index (ratio):
Ape Index (difference):

What is the significance of ape index in combat sports?

So, what is the significance of having a positive ape index? Does it have any impact on performance?

Ape index, just like any other physical attribute, is just an indication of potential not a guarantee of any kind.

A person with a positive ape index will have an unexpected reach — the higher the value, the longer the unexpected reach and vice-versa. That's all there is to ape index.

Imagine you have fought or sparred with regular fighters with the average ±3 cm ape index all your life. From all this experience, you develop a relation about reach with respect to height.

And one day you meet someone with a +33 cm ape index. This person will be able to tag you from distances, which should have been safe from your understanding. This element of confusion is what makes ape index a potential positive factor in the ability to win fights. Whether the fighter is able to make use of this attribute or not, is entirely up to them, just as is the case with other attributes like height, power, speed etc.

What about those with a negative ape index?

Those with a negative ape index may be able to land unexpected effective punches in the closer range.

Is there any relation between ape index and performance?

There may be, but as mentioned earlier, it is not a guarantee but an indication of potential. Let's take a look at some examples from boxing and MMA.

AthleteHeightReachApe Index
Sonny Liston185 cm213 cm28 cm
Sergei Pavlovich191 cm213 cm22 cm
Jon Jones193 cm215 cm22 cm
Tommy Fury183 cm203 cm20 cm
Edison Miranda178 cm197 cm19 cm
Hasim Rahman189 cm208 cm19 cm
Lennox Lewis196 cm213 cm17 cm
Adonis Stevenson180 cm196 cm16 cm
Georges St-Pierre178 cm193 cm15 cm
Larry Holmes191 cm206 cm15 cm
Terence Crawford173 cm188 cm15 cm
Marvin Hagler177 cm191 cm14 cm
Conor McGregor175 cm188 cm13 cm
Thomas Hearns185 cm198 cm13 cm
Emile Griffith171 cm183 cm12 cm
Zab Judah171 cm183 cm12 cm
Archie Moore180 cm191 cm11 cm
Fedor Emelianenko183 cm193 cm10 cm
Tyson Fury206 cm216 cm10 cm
Deontay Wilder201 cm211 cm10 cm
Floyd Mayweather Jr.173 cm183 cm10 cm
Jaron Ennis178 cm188 cm10 cm
Anderson Silva188 cm197 cm9 cm
Sugar Ray Leonard179 cm188 cm9 cm
Demetrious Johnson160 cm168 cm8 cm
Evander Holyfield189 cm197 cm8 cm
George Foreman191 cm199 cm8 cm
Michael Spinks185 cm193 cm8 cm
Roy Jones Jr.180 cm188 cm8 cm
Wladimir Klitschko198 cm206 cm8 cm
Muhammad Ali191 cm198 cm7 cm
Bernard Hopkins185 cm191 cm6 cm
Canelo Álvarez173 cm179 cm6 cm
Oscar De La Hoya179 cm185 cm6 cm
Naoya Inoue165 cm171 cm6 cm
Artur Beterbiev180 cm185 cm5 cm
Gervonta Davis166 cm171 cm5 cm
James Toney178 cm183 cm5 cm
Joe Louis188 cm193 cm5 cm
Félix Trinidad180 cm184 cm4 cm
Sugar Ray Robinson180 cm184 cm4 cm
Román González160 cm163 cm3 cm
Mike Tyson178 cm180 cm2 cm
Stefan Struve213 cm215 cm2 cm
Manny Pacquiao168 cm170 cm2 cm
Dmitry Bivol183 cm183 cm0
Gennadiy Golovkin179 cm178 cm-1 cm
Josh Taylor178 cm177 cm-1 cm
Naseem Hamed164 cm163 cm-1 cm
Yuriorkis Gamboa166 cm165 cm-1 cm
Julio César Chávez171 cm169 cm-2 cm
Roberto Durán170 cm168 cm-2 cm
Floyd Patterson183 cm180 cm-3 cm
Vasiliy Lomachenko170 cm166 cm-4 cm
Ricky Hatton170 cm165 cm-5 cm
Rocky Marciano179 cm173 cm-6 cm
Carl Frampton165 cm157 cm-8 cm
Artem Lobov175 cm165 cm-10 cm

It can be observed that many of the best boxers and MMA fighters of all time have/had a positive ape index. However, some of them also have/had a negative ape index.


A large ape index, can be a definite success factor in combat sports if one masters how to use it to one's advantage. A negative ape index can not only be overcome with other positive attributes but can also be used to one's advantage.