Olympic sport since 1896
Olympic Games are a history of mankind, wrestling is the prologue. When the
ancient Games of the Olympiad were born, wrestling already was an ancient game.
Widely recognised as the world's oldest competitive sport, wrestling appeared in
a series of Egyptian wall paintings as many as 5000 years ago. When the Games
began in 776 BC, more than two millenniums later, it included wrestling, and, in
the years that followed, wrestling featured as the main event.
|Puerto Rican Daniel Soto (red) wrestles Angelo Mota from the
Dominican Republic during their combat in the men's 66kg wrestling
competition at the 20th Central American and Caribbean Games in Cartagena,
Colombia, July 24, 2006. [Reuters]
The sport would return in a similar role when the Olympic Games returned
after a 1500-year absence in 1896. Organisers, seeking direct links to ancient
times, found a natural in the sport that had enjoyed popularity across much of
the ancient world, from Greece, Assyria and Babylon to India, China and Japan.
They resurrected Greco-Roman wrestling, a style they believed to be an exact
carryover from the Greek and Roman wrestlers of old.
In Greco-Roman wrestling, the wrestlers used only their arms and upper bodies
to attack. They could hold only those same parts of their opponents. It worked
nicely from a historical perspective, but another breezier style was sweeping
across Great Britain and the United States by then. Known as "catch as catch
can", it had become standard fare - and popular professional entertainment - at
fairs and festivals in both countries.
In 1904, the Olympic Games added the second wrestling event and called it
"freestyle". Now, wrestlers could use their legs for pushing, lifting and
tripping, and they could hold opponents above or below the waist.
LIST OF DISCIPLINES
This sport includes several Olympic disciplines. Discover the sport through
its competition format, equipment, glossary and history.