HistoryHistory of WrestlingHistory

History of wrestling in the Olympics

History of Freesyle wrestling

More Olympic wrestling History


The first recorded Olympic wrestling match occurred in the Olympics in 708 BC. Wrestling was highly valued as a form of military exercise without weapons. It has traditionally also been used to settle land disputes . 4/18/09

There were two distinct versions of the game, differing according to the holds and the methods of deciding the victor. 


Orthia pale (Upright and Proper Wrestling)
The object of this type of wrestling was simply to throw the opponent to the ground. Three falls constituted a loss for that opponent, and the winner was called the "triakter". The match continued without stops until one man emerged victorious.
Kato pale (Ground Wrestling)
Victory in this competition depended on one competitor acknowledging defeat. Defeat was indicated by raising one's right hand with the index finger pointed.

Rules of the Game:

Blows were not allowed.
Tripping was permitted.
No biting or gouging was allowed.
There was no weight distinction.
The wrestlers were anointed with olive oil then dusted with powder to make them easier to grasp. The competition took place in the "keroma", or beeswax, a muddy and sticky arena.

Characteristics of a Good Wrestler:

Since there was no weight provision in the Olympics, it is obvious that the sport required a strong and stout build. A special combination of agility, skill and craft were also necessary.

Additional Information:

With five victories at Olympia, perhaps the most famous and successful of Olympic wrestlers was Milo. When attempting his sixth Olympic victory at forty years old, he was finally beaten by a younger man.


In the viking age, there were in nothern europe a very popular sport called glima.

In glima it is illegal to kick and hit, therefore it is called wrestling. The special thing about glima is that the wrestlers uses some special belts (like in sumo) to get a grip in each other. In the viking age the grip was in each others trousers.

In a glima match the two wrestlers is constantly walking around each other and try to bring down the opponent with tricks like to trip the opponent up, or lifting the opponent up. The match end when one of the wrestlers falls down. There are eight basic tricks, but they can be combined infinitely.

Glima is the nationalsport of Iceland. The reason that it nowadays is almost unknown in other scandinavian countries have to do with the fact that the priests in the end of the viking age considered glima to be a pagan thing. That point of view was never accepted in iceland were it instead turn out to be consider good for the moral and disipline to do glima.

The sport can be practiced by both gender, in all ages. In the icelandic sagas there is written about a match between a man and a woman which run over several days and ended unsettled (in the sagas they often overstated theirs ability a bit).

It is possible to do glima in Copenhagen (Denmark) two times a week. It is also possible to do glima i Malmø (Sweden), and in Whangarei (New Zeeland) and of couse in Iceland.

In the sommer we make shows around in nothern europe in connection with viking festivals and alike.

Basic rules of Glima

The two wrestlers (glimumenn) stand nearly erect, each a little to the left of the other with a slightly wide stance and the right foot slightly advanced. They look over each other's right shoulder, but never down at the feet, the reason for this rule being that the wrestlers are to wrestle by touch and feel and not by sight.

Once the wrestlers have taken their holds and adopted the required stance they begin to step to their right. Then, at a signal, they begin to apply the tricks. Each contestant seeks to throw the other by causing him to lose his balance. Each tries to hook a foot around the other's in order to trip him. A contestant may also try to heave his opponent into the air and by skillful use of the feet, legs, or hips, prevent him from landing on feet, causing him instead to fall to the ground in such a manner that he touches it with some part of his torso.

There are eight main kinds of tricks (bragd) designed to fell (topple) the adversary, and each trick can be executed in a number of different ways (approx. 50).

The eight main tricks of glima are as follows:

The outside stroke (leggjarbargd) (see picture)

The inside-click (innanfótar hælkrókur hægri á vinstri)

the cross-click (innanfótar hælkrókur hægri á hægri)

the back-heel (hælkrókur fyrr báda)

The twist over the knee (hnéhnykkur)

the overside hipe (hnéhnykkur á lofti)

The hook (krækja)

The cross buttock (snidglima)

The inside-hipe (klofbragd).

The cross-buttock aloft (lausamjödm)

The full or half buttock (mjadmarhnykkur)

In modern glima competition the wrestlers wear special wrestling attire (glimuföt), consisting of special shoes and a combination of pants and shirt with a protective cover around the groin. Each werstler wears three leather belts, one around each thigh and one around the waist, the thigh-belts being fastened by straps to the waist-belt.

The two wrestlers enter the arena, which is a smooth, bare timber floot, and greet each other by shaking hands. Each takes hold of the waist-belt of the other with his right hand, and with the left hand grasps the belt round the opponent's thigh. Only then can the combat or glima begin.

Modern History

Around 1965, several individuals, principally Terry McCann and Myron Roderick, were dissatisfied with the governance of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). They began discussions with Walter Byers, then the Executive Director of the NCAA, with the goal to form a wrestling organization administered by wrestling people.

The group wanted to develop an overall program that would: 1) offer competitive programs for wrestlers who had completed high school and/or college; 2) offer educational and developmental programs for wrestlers, coaches and officials in the international styles of wrestling; 3) offer wrestlers, coaches, officials and organizations conducting wrestling programs a voice in policies and procedures directly affecting the sport.

Initial organizational meetings were held in January of 1968, where the need to develop a new federation to challenge the AAU was reaffirmed. Subsequently, a brochure which announced the formation of the United States Wrestling Federation (USWF), was circulated in May and June. It defined the goals, objectives, structure and proposed financing, and set the stage for the official organizational meeting.

In April of 1969, the USWF conducted its first National Open Championships in Evanston, Ill. The Mayor Daley Youth Foundation, led by Olympians Don Behm and Larry Kristoff, won the first freestyle and Greco-Roman team trophies.

Myron Roderick, head coach at Oklahoma State University, was appointed USWF Executive Director in August of 1969 and moved the offices to Stillwater, Okla.

In July of 1970, Federation Internationale de Luttes Associees (FILA) president Roger Coulon of France took the international franchise away from the AAU and ordered a joint commission, five members each from USWF and AAU.

The Federation suffered a setback in 1972 as new FILA president Milan Ercegan returned the AAU to full membership. Yet individual membership doubled to 3,000 and the national office added its second full-time employee, Bob Dellinger.

The Federation merged with the U.S. Kids Wrestling Federation in 1975.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame was formally dedicated on Sept. 11, 1976 and housed the National Office of the Federation. The street in Stillwater where the Hall is located was renamed Hall of Fame Avenue. Fourteen charter members were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Membership in the Federation grew to 25,686 by the end of 1976.

On Sept. 7, 1978, the American Arbitration Association ruled that the AAU was no longer a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, replaced by the U.S. Wrestling Federation. Congress passed the Amateur Sports Act of 1978 into law in November, 1978.

Congress amended the Amateur Sports Act in 1980 to cut off USOC membership and funding for any arbitration loser.

On Aug. 20, 1982, a judge in Ohio ordered the AAU to resign from, and sever all ties with, FILA and to resign from the Olympic Committee. The USOC was ordered to terminate its recognition of the AAU as a Group A Member and the National Governing Body (NGB). USOC president Bill Simon convened a seven-man panel on Sept. 23 to develop a structure for the new United States Wrestling Association. It was to include two members for the AAU, which boycotted.

USWF became USA Wrestling (USAW) on March 14, 1983. Werner Holzer was elected president and Steve Combs continued as executive director.

Shortly thereafter, FILA recognized USAW as the member organization from the United States. The USWF had finally triumphed in its struggle to become the NGB for wrestling in the United States.

Since assuming NGB duties, USA Wrestling has achieved numerous milestones for the sport of wrestling, which include:

27 Olympic medals (14 gold, 7 silver, 6 bronze)
67 World medals (21 gold, 31 silver, 15 bronze)
1993 and 1995 Freestyle World Team Championships
Hosted the 1995 World Freestyle Wrestling Championships, one of the most successful World Championships ever held
Strong athlete support created through national teams programs
Significant increase in training and competitive opportunities for all age groups of athletes
Strong programs developed for coaches' and officials' education
One of the leading international exchange programs among National Governing Bodies
49 recognized state associations
Regional and national age-group championships annually attract more than 12,500 competitors
USA Wrestler, the official publication of USA Wrestling, published six times annually, has a circulation of over 130,000
USA Wrestling recognized a Women's Sport Committee, created a National Team for women and increased financial support for its development
USA Wrestling's Junior National Championships developed into the leading wrestling competition in the United States and, possibly, the world
USA Wrestling's Cadet National Championships grew to match the size and scope of the Junior National Championships
Four additional National Tournaments were created: Espoir Nationals (1985), Cadet Nationals (1986), University Nationals (1990), Women's Nationals (1990) ? National Coaching Staff established for Freestyle, Greco-Roman and Developmental programs
USA Wrestling purchased a building to house the full-time staff
Two wrestlers were named winners of the James E. Sullivan Award, presented annually to the top amateur athlete in the United States: John Smith (1990) and Bruce Baumgartner (1995)
All-American Club created for past U.S. team members, Olympic Trials finalists, national champions and national All-Americans in freestyle, Greco-Roman and women's wrestling.