Greco-Roman Wrestling is a wrestling style that was first contested in the 1896 Olympics and has since gained a lot of popularity. As more people keep joining Greco-Roman wrestling competitions, the desire to understand its history keeps growing. Here is all that you need to know about the history of Greco-Roman wrestling.
The origin of Greco-Roman wrestling
The term Greco–Roman was used to denote the derivation from similar forms of wrestling in ancient civilizations, especially around the Mediterranean Sea. The United World Wrestling reports that the style could have been developed by a Napoleonic soldier named Exbrayat Jean who called the style flat-hand.
Jean took the game a step further by crafting special rules. He established that there should be no holds below the waist or torsions that can result in pain on the opponent. The rules made the game even more popular because everybody could get involved without worrying about feeling pain or getting hurt. The term Greco-Roman was coined by Bartoletti Basilio to ensure that the game underscored the ancient values.
Later in the 18th and 20th centuries, many personalities tried adding value to the game by citing connection to ancient aspects. Joham Guts, in his work Gymnastics for youth in the 18th century mentioned a type of school boys wrestling that did not include holding the lower parts of the body.
Promoting Greco-Roman wrestling
Greco-Roman Wrestling was practiced in most European cities. By the 19th centuries, there were small tournaments held in every city. For example, the Russian Czar paid 500 Francs to help wrestlers train and compete in his tournaments. However, Greco-Roman wrestling did not grow rapidly in Britain because leaders preferred other types of wrestling.
By the close of the 19th century the game was so popular that it was adopted in the Olympic Games. In 1896, the game was one of the major competitions in the Modern Olympic Games in Athens. Since then, the game has been an important component of every Olympic.
The legendary Greco-Roman wrestler, Hackenschmidt
The history of Greco-Roman wrestling cannot be complete without mentioning the Russian Lion, Hackenschimidt. In 1898 at the age of 21, Hackenschimidt won the tournament after defeating more experienced players. He had only practiced the wrestling for just 15 months before heading for the modern Olympics.
Later in 1900, Hackenschimidt won major tournaments in St. Petersburg and Moscow in top international competitions. He also defeated Jenkins from the US and won a lot of matches both in Europe and away. Before turning into a physical education advisor, Hackenschimidt had won over 2000 competitions in Greco-Roman freestyle.
International Amateur Wrestling Federation took over Greco-Wrestling in 1921
Before being taken by IAWF, Greco-Roman competitions were becoming very hostile. Many players used body slams, head butting, and even choke-holds to weaken opponents. In some cases, caustic soda was used to weaken the opponent. Besides, the matches took too long. During the 1912 Olympics, the match between Ivar Boehling and Anders Ahlgren lasted for 9 hours before a draw was declared. After IAWF took over the sport, the timelines have been shortened while harmful moves such as head butting and neck-shocks were forbidden.