Wrestling is a combat sport involving grappling-type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. The sport can either be theatrical for entertainment (see professional wrestling), or genuinely competitive. A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two (occasionally more) competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position. There are a wide range of styles with varying rules with both traditional historic and modern styles. Wrestling techniques have been incorporated into other martial arts as well as military hand-to-hand combat systems.|
Early British settlers in America brought a strong wrestling tradition with them. The settlers also found wrestling to be popular among Native Americans. Amateur wrestling flourished throughout the early years of the North American colonies and served as a popular activity at country fairs, holiday celebrations, and in military exercises. The first organized national wrestling tournament took place in New York City in 1888. Wrestling has also been an event at every modern Olympic Games since the 1904 games in St. Louis, Missouri (a demonstration had been performed at the first modern Olympics). The international governing body for the sport, United World Wrestling (UWW), was established in 1912 in Antwerp, Belgium as the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA). The 1st NCAA Wrestling Championships were also held in 1912, in Ames, Iowa. USA Wrestling, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, became the national governing body of U.S. amateur wrestling in 1983.
On continental Europe, prize money was offered in large sums to the winners of Greco-Roman tournaments, and freestyle wrestling spread rapidly in the United Kingdom and in the United States after the American Civil War. Wrestling professionals soon increased the popularity of Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, worldwide.
Wrestling disciplines, as defined by UWW, are broken down into two categories; International wrestling disciplines and folk wrestling disciplines. UWW currently recognizes six wrestling disciplines in all. Three are Olympic disciplines: Greco-Roman wrestling, men's freestyle wrestling and female wrestling (i.e., women's freestyle wrestling). The other three are amateur pankration, belt wrestling alysh and beach wrestling.
Freestyle wrestling is an international discipline and an Olympic sport, for both men and women. This style allows the use of the wrestler's or his opponent's legs in offense and defense. Freestyle wrestling has its origins in catch-as-catch-can wrestling and the prime victory condition in this style involves the wrestler winning by throwing and pinning his opponent on the mat. American high school and college wrestling is conducted under different rules and is termed scholastic and collegiate wrestling.
UWW, then known as FILA, codified the form of beach wrestling in 2004. Beach wrestling is standing wrestling done by wrestlers, male or female, inside a sand-filled circle measuring 7 meters (23 ft) in diameter. The style originally mirrored the rules used before the use of wrestling mats, and beach wrestling has been regarded as the oldest version of international competitive wrestling. The wrestlers wear swimsuits rather than special wrestling uniforms. Wrestlers may also wear spandex or athletic shorts.
Folk wrestling describes a traditional form of wrestling unique to a culture or geographic region of the world that FILA does not administer rules for. Examples of the many styles of folk wrestling, include backhold wrestling (from Europe), Cumberland Wrestling and Catch-as-catch-can (from England), kurash from Uzbekistan, gushteengiri from Tajikistan, khuresh from Siberia, Lotta Campidanese from Italy, koshti pahlavani from Iran, naban from Myanmar, pehlwani from India, penjang gulat from Indonesia, schwingen from Switzerland, tigel from Ethiopia, shuai jiao from China, and ssireum from Korea.
Collegiate wrestling (sometimes known as scholastic wrestling or folkstyle wrestling) is the commonly used name of wrestling practiced at the college and university level in the United States. This style, with modifications, is also practiced at the high school and middle school levels, and also for younger participants. The term is used to distinguish the style from other styles of wrestling used in other parts of the world, and from those of the Olympic Games: Greco-Roman wrestling, and Freestyle wrestling. Some high schools in the U.S. have developed junior varsity and freshman teams alongside varsity teams. Junior varsity and freshman wrestling teams restrict competitors not only by weight, but also by age and the amount of wrestling a competitor can partake in. For example, some junior varsity and freshman competitors are not allowed in tournament competition due to the amount of mat time a wrestler would accrue in a short time period.
Sambo is a martial art that originated in the Soviet Union (specifically Russia) in the 20th century. It is an acronym for "self-defence without weapons" in Russian and had its origins in the Soviet armed forces. Its influences are varied, with techniques borrowed from sports ranging from the two international wrestling styles of Greco-Roman and freestyle to judo, jujitsu, European styles of folk wrestling, and even fencing. The rules for sport sambo are similar to those in competitive judo, with a variety of leg locks and defense holds from the various national wrestling styles in the Soviet Union, while not allowing chokeholds.
In France in the 19th century, early professional wrestling shows in the Greco-Roman style were often performed at the circus by the resident strongmen. This style later spread to circuses in Eastern Europe, particularly in Russia where it was a staple part of circuses in the Soviet era, where it was often advertised as "French wrestling." Ivan Poddubny achieved major stardom in his homeland and beyond during the interwar period.