The History of Wrestling

The History of Wrestling

A Story by Roger Ferguson II

a brief history and incite to the great sport of wrestling.


The History of Wrestling

“I shoot, I score. He shoots, I score.”

 �"Dan Gable



            One of the oldest sports around, wrestling is still very popular today. Almost every culture has its own style and take on the sport. Wrestling is an old and universal sport that has withstood the test of time, evolving along the way.

            By definition wrestling is a sport in which two opponents, “struggle in order to pin the other down.” (Webster’s Dictionary) While rules are different for different styles, and styles are different depending on culture, it always comes to two people trying to attain dominance over the other.


Wrestling’s History:


            The sport of wrestling goes back 15,000 years. Cave drawings in France depict wrestling matches. Wrestlers in various positions and moves are shown on cave walls. The Egyptians and Babylonians also depict wrestling in drawings. These pictures show many of the wrestling holds and throws still used today.

            The Greeks are considered by many to be the creatures of wrestling as we know it today. Ancient Greeks formed the sport out of necessity. They used it as a way to train soldiers. Greek citizens and royalty used the sport as a means of exercise.

            Wrestling was a major part of Greek society. It is featured in much of their literature, and was even considered to be a right of passage for males. Many Greeks studied wrestling as part of their overall learning.

            In the Olympics of ancient Greece wrestling was the top sport. It was very brutal. Sometimes matches would end in a death, and many times injury.

            The Romans, known for their love of brutality and violence, adopted and modified the Greek system. This new form came to be known as Greco-Roman wrestling. A form no doubt used by the gladiators of the day. Greco-Roman is still popularly used in international competitions today.

            After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe fell into a period we now call the dark ages. In this time of anarchy and war it is no wonder wrestling survived. Royalty would amuse themselves by watching matches, and the common man learned it to help them protect themselves and their loved ones.

            Medieval knights would practice wrestling in armor. For them it was a must in training. Armored wrestling was curl and rough. The goal was to cause your enemy as much pain as possible. Eye gouging, breaking arms, legs, and fingers were commonly used.

            As the shroud of the dark ages lifted and the light returned to the west, wrestling emerged strong as ever. During the age of exploration, travelers to the new world found that wrestling was popular among the natives. They practiced styles different from those of the west. Sadly these styles have all but disappeared.


Wrestling in the East:


            Wrestling is not limited to the western world. In fact many eastern countries have developed their own styles of wrestling. The most famous of these styles are Sumo, Judo, and Jiu-jitsu.

            Sumo in ancient times was used as a performance to entertain the Shinto gods. Sumo wrestlers are normally quite large and very powerful; they are highly respected in Japan.

            Unlike western wrestling, the goal of sumo is not to pin your opponent. In sumo a win comes from pushing your opponent out of the Dohyo (the ring) or tossing your opponent to the ground. (

            Jiu-jitsu can be traces back to 23BC. Its name means “art of softness” or “way of yielding”. This makes sense as the very principal of Jiu-jitsu is using your opponent’s momentum against them. Samurai developed this style during Japan’s Feudal period. It was used to disarm enemies and neutralize them with a joint lock or throw. (

            During the Meiji Restoration Jiu-jitsu was almost lost. In order to survive it had to evolve, Dr. Jigoro Kang saw this. Thanks to him Jiu-jitsu survived, though in a new form.

            This new form is known as Judo. The main change is that Judo is more of a sport. Many of Jiu-jitsu’s killing moves were removed.


Wrestling today:


            Today one of the first sports a child is likely to try is wrestling. No doubt this is thanks to “Pro. Wrestling” shows. Youth wrestling programs are common place today.

            In Middle School wrestling has become frequent as a winter sport. Seventh and eighth graders compete in matches against kids from other schools.

            High School wrestling is more extreme then middle school, and much more popular. There are 14 weight classes wrestlers are divided into. These ranges from 103lbs to heavyweight (no more then 275lbs). Matches are three periods of two minutes each. Wrestlers face each other inside a circle, on a mat, with a diameter of at least 32 feet. Head gear is required now during matches and many coaches and schools are requiring it to be worn during practice. Special shoes and singlets are also worn. A singlet is a one piece uniform normally made of spandex, so that wrestlers can not grab onto anything to help them.

            The match begins with both wrestlers in the center of the circle facing each other. This is referred to as neutral position. When the referee blows the whistle the match begins. For round two a coin is tossed, the winner of this coin toss may choose top, bottom, or neutral positions. They may also choose to defer and let their opponent pick. Top position is when you the wrestler is on top of your opponent. In this position you are dominating. Bottom position is when your opponent is on top of you, and you are on your hands and knees. Each position has their benefits and weaknesses, depending on the wrestlers.

            High school wrestling follows a scoring system. Wrestlers are awarded points for various things. A take down is worth two points. To perform a take down a wrestler must take their opponent to the mat and have their hips behind their opponent’s.  An escape is worth one point. This is done by a wrestler in bottom position. To perform an escape a wrestler gets back into neutral, freeing himself of his opponent’s grasp.  A reversal is worth two points. This is also done by a wrestler in bottom position. A wrestler goes from bottom to top position. A near fall can be worth two or three points. This is also known as back points, a wrestler gets their opponent on their back but does not pin them, the longer they are on their back the more points are awarded. Points may also be awarded for different infractions made by the opponent. If a wrestler gain 15 points or more than his opponent it is called a Tec fall, and ends the match. It is a mercy rule. If a wrestler forces his opponent’s shoulders to the mat it is a pin and this also ends the match.

            Intercollegiate wrestling has ten weight classes, 118lbs to heavyweight. Unlike high school wrestling the first period is three minutes and the second and third period are two minutes each.

            International completions also have ten weight classes. These go from 105.5lbs to 286lbs. both freestyle and Greco-Roman are used. Participants are paired using a blind draw within a bracket. Wrestlers face each other for the first six places. The top three wrestlers are given medals. (World Book)

            Pro wrestling is probably the most well known form of wrestling. ECW, WWE, WWF, and so on are watched by people all across America. Pro wrestlers have bizarre nick names and costumes. They use flashy, high flying moves. This is more a form of entertainment then a sport, according to Dan Gable, a famous wrestling coach. In truth Pro wrestling is hardly wrestling at all. While its stars may know real wrestling, and their stunts may require athleticism, you cannot hit someone with a chair in wrestling.

            Lucha libre or “free wrestling” is very similar to Pro wrestling. It is a Mexican sport, known for its tag team matches and masks.

            All though dominantly a male sport, more and more female wrestlers are showing up. This is relatively new, and still not all too common. Girl wrestlers often face negativity from male wrestlers, parents, coaches, and peers. However many female wrestlers are proving that they are just as good as guys are. It is slowly becoming more acceptable for girls to wrestlers.



Safety First:


            In recent years wrestling has gone through a slight change. After much criticism about wrestlers cutting weight a new rule has been put into place. Now wrestlers in High school must pass a hydration test and weight certification. This limits how much a wrestler can lose weight wise, and how fast they can lose it. Running with trash bags, a trick used because it makes you sweet more, is now prohibited. A wrestler caught running with a trash bag may face some consequences. These new rules and precautions are due to the sickness and death that has been caused by cutting weight too fast and to drastically.


Wrestling’s Final Evolution:


            In mixed martial arts (M.M.A.) wrestling is blended with other fighting styles. This is most likely wrestling’s final evolutionary stage. It has become a priceless addition to any fighter’s repertoire.

            Fighters such as Randy Couture, Bas Rutten, and Dan Severn dominate in M.M.A. because of their skills in wrestling. Using techniques developed through years of practice and training, they take their opponents to the ground. Eastern styles are also utilized. Royce Gracie used Jiu-Jitsu to become one of M.M.A.’s greatest fighters (Elite Fighter)


To Sum it up:


            Wrestling is a sport known and practiced all over the world. It is both a means of exercise and combat. The rules and regulations depend on what styles are being used and what competition.

             Many will agree that wrestling is one of the hardest sports around. Though maybe not as brutal as it once was, it still requires great strength, speed, flexibility, and a good tolerance for pain. Dan Gable best summed up wrestling, “once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.”




© 2010 Roger Ferguson II

Author's Note

Roger Ferguson II
This was a report for my English and History classes

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you know what me? im gonna put this on the profile im using now lol.....-.- i have like 3 accounts with my writings all scattered....always lose my login info.

Posted 9 Years Ago

a lot of wrestlers will spit a lot throughout the day too. the average person produces 1-2 pounds of it so i guess it helps a little.

Posted 11 Years Ago

You really captured my interest, despite the fact that I'm not generally a fan of wrestling. Great report and welcome to the site :)

Posted 11 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on May 30, 2010
Last Updated on May 30, 2010


Roger Ferguson II
Roger Ferguson II

Barberton, OH

Im 17 in high school i love to write and read i write what comes into my head if you want a read send a request whenever. this is my newest account on here, sadly i lost my old infomation. more..