Wrestling in ancient Olympics goes way back to 708 BC and has even been documented as a sport in cave drawings going back as far as 3000 BC. Greco Roman Wrestling was added to modern Olympics in 1896 and is closely related to the original style of those ancient times (see main Greco Roman article here). It differs from the other Olympic form of wresting called Free-Style Wrestling, in that you are not allowed to hold below the waist or trip/hook an opponent. Instead throws, headlock, body locks and arm dragging are common.
Olympic Greco Roman Wrestling is governed by The International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), which was founded in 1905
There was no wrestling at the Olympics in 1900 and no Greco Roman Wrestling at the 1904 Olympics. There are no and has never been any Greco Roman Wrestling events for women at the Olympics, but there are women’s events for Free-Style Wrestling.
Competitors are matched in weight classes (see below) and follow a knockout format to reach the final. Matches consist of 3 x 2 minute rounds, a far cry from the days when there was no time limit.
In 2013 IOC amongst much criticism, made a decision to drop wrestling from the list of Olympic sports. However after much backlash, it was re-inststed for 2020 and will have a limited showing for the 2016 games also. There will also be new rules, to consist of 2 x 3 minute rounds instead of 3 x 2 minute rounds. Takedowns will count for 2 points instead of 1 and matches will be decided on accumulated points.
Olympic Greco Roman Wrestling Weight Classes
Up to 55kg
55 – 60kg
60 – 66kg
66 – 74kg
74 – 84kg
84 – 96kg
96 – 120kg
Up to 60kg
Greco Roman Wrestling Terms
Action – When a referee starts the match.
Arm throw – When a wrestler uses their opponent’s arm to throw them over their shoulder.
Body lock – The holding of your opponent with locked arms
around the body of your opponent.
Body throw – When a wrestler locks their arms around their opponent to throw them to the mat.
Bout (match) – Made up of 3 x 2 minute rounds.
Bridge – To arch the back to avoid the back from touching the mat.
Central circle – A 1 metre central circle of the mat.
Central wrestling area – The 7 metre diameter main wrestling area.
Fall (also known a Pin) – When a competitors shoulders are forced to touch the mat.
Fleeing a hold – Where a competitor refuses to fight and prevents their opponent from getting a hold.
Fleeing the mat – Where a competitor voluntarily leaves the mat.
Open – A referee’s command for a competitor to alter their position to get a more open tactic.
Par terre – (referee’s position) is the starting position with on opponent on their hand and knees and the other opponent next to them with their hands on that opponents back.
Passivity zone – 1.5 metre outer circle of the wrestling mat.
Round – One of the 3, 2 minute rounds.
Suplex – Where you lift your opponent in a body lock from behind or straddling a leg. You then bend your knees and pop your hips into them, lifting your opponent off the ground while you arch your back as you throw your opponent over and behind you slamming their shoulders to the mat.
Technical points – The points scored during the match.
Olympic Greco Roman Wrestling Years
1896 – (men Only)
1900 – (none)
1904 – (only Free-Style Wrestling)
1908 – (men Only)
1912 – (men Only)
1916 – (cancelled due to WW1)
1920 – (men Only)
1924 – (men Only)
1928 – (men Only)
1932 – (men Only)
1936 – (men Only)
1940 – (cancelled due to WW2)
1944 – (cancelled due to WW2)
1948 – (men Only)
1952 – (men Only)
1956 – (men Only)
1960 – (men Only)
1964 – (men Only)
1968 – (men Only)
1972 – (men Only)
1976 – (men Only)
1980 – (men Only)
1984 – (men Only)
1988 – (men Only)
1992 – (men Only)
1996 – (men Only)
2000 – (men Only)
2004 – (men Only)
2008 – (men Only)
2012 – (men Only)
2016 – (men Only – 6 weight classes)
Equipment used in Olympic Greco Roman Wrestling Events
Mat – 9 metre main mat area, with a 1 metre central circle, a 7 metre diameter main wrestling area, surrounded by a 1 metre passive zone. The whole 9 metre mat is further surrounded by a 1.5 metre protection area.
Wrestling Suit – spandex (nylon/lycra material) in red or blue.
Wrestling boots – soft leather and usually rubber soled.
Bloodrag – hankerchief used clean blood up.
Headguard – Used mainly to protect the ears, but is an optional piece of equipment.