When people hear wrestling, most think of the glamour extravaganza of WWE, but it is a sport steeped in Olympic heritage, and one of just two still limited to amateur competitors at the elite level.
An Overview of Wrestling
Wrestling is a sport as old as mankind itself. Since the dawn of time men have been pitted against each other in physical hand-to-hand combat, making this almost certainly the most ancient of Olympic sports.
It's a simple concept. Two men or women wrestle until one is declared the winner. Over the years, wrestling techniques have become more sophisticated and generally speaking the winner of any wrestling bout is the person who has the better technique, strength and overall fitness.
Wrestling is split into Greco-Roman and Freestyle disciplines. In Freestyle wrestling the competitors have a much greater freedom. They can use not only their arms and bodies, but also their legs and can take a hold of their opponent anywhere that allows them to overpower and gain total control of them.
In Greco-Roman Wrestling, it is strictly forbidden to grasp the opponent below the belt line, or to trip him or to use the legs actively to perform any action.
In Free Style wrestling, however, it is permissible to grasp the legs of the opponent, to trip him and to use the legs actively to perform any action. Female wrestling follows the rules of freestyle, forbidding however the Double Nelsons.
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Wrestling, in both forms, provides a full-body workout that raises the heart rate to help improve cardiovascular fitness, reflexes, balance and timing. This form of exercise improves stamina, lowers blood pressure and helps move oxygen throughout the body more effectively.
You don't need any specialist equipment to start off with but for competition a skintight Lycra unitard is required which can cost around £22
The best option is to join a club in order to learn how to do moves safely and correctly. They exist nationwide but you may have to travel to find one close to you.
To ensure safety, it is recommended that knee pads, elbow pads and headgear are worn at all times. Beginners can just wear shorts and t-shirt for their first few sessions before buying specialised wrestling shoes and a singlet at a later date.
- When the first modern Olympics were held in 1896, wrestling was included as a way of giving spectators a flavour of what the games would have been like in ancient Greece.
- The 1912 Greco-Roman middleweight semi-final lasted an incredible 11 hours. The eventual winner, Klein of Russia, was so exhausted that he was unable to take part in the final.
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