Wrestling holds the title of the oldest sport in known history. The legends of Greek mythology tell the tale of Greek God Zeus defeating Cronus in a wrestling match for the possession of the universe at the beginning of time. Wrestling appeared all over the ancient world, from France to Mongolia, in artwork, writing, and even cave carvings, wrestling appears everywhere.
Wrestling being the first sport in the Greek games, as well as cave paintings in ancient France from about 17,000 years ago hold water to these claims. Other instances of this age old sport throughout history include a literal Battle of Kings took place when King Francis I of France defeated King Henry VIII of England in an impromptu wrestling match at the Field of the Cloth of Gold pageant.
Many of the things done by times old wrestlers would be seen as extreme in modern times. In 1932 , Swedish-born Ivar Johanssen won the freestyle gold in the 180 lbs. weight class and then dropped a whopping 22 pounds in 24 hours to enter the 158.5 lbs. weight class, where he won gold again. In 1960, Soviet wrestler Avtandil Koridze etched his name in Cold War infamy after a suspicious and likely-fixed bout. Koridze whispered mysteriously into his opponent’s ear, and watched as his opponent suddenly fell to his back and let Koridze pin him, leading eventually to his gold medal win.
Greek wrestling, also known as “Pale” had a solid foundation in ancient Greece long before 776 B.C., the first recorded Olympic Games. Wrestling may have been the most popular sport in Greece, but it’s rules and regulations, and even the sport itself are drastically different now. Greek wrestling allowed the two wrestlers to grapple until one of two things happened, either three points were scored, or one competitor was in too much pain to continue. Points were given if a competitor was thrown out of the arena, forced to submit to a hold, or was thrown on his back. The greeks not only respected wrestling for all of it’s physical privileges, but also for the knowledge it gave them.
In it’s evolution from Greek wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling went through many changes. The rules of Greco-Roman wrestling were established by a French soldier named Exbroyat in the 19th century. Known at first by the names “French Wrestling” and sometimes “flat-hand” it was the first type of wrestling to forbore life threatening actions during competitions. This, however was not the only new rule. Major rules were created that forbade intentionally harming one’s opponent, as well as holds below the waist was created in 1848, for obvious reasons. Finally, during the 19th century the term “Greco-Roman” was coined by Basilio Bartoli, an Italian wrestler, this name connected the new sport to it’s heritage. ...