Wrestling, pronounced REHS lihng, is a sport in which two opponents try to pin (hold) each other's shoulders to a mat on the floor. Wrestlers use maneuvers called holds to grasp their opponents and control their movements.
Successful wrestling demands strength, speed, coordination, balance, physical conditioning, and knowledge of body leverage. A clever wrestler can often defeat a stronger and heavier opponent.
There are more than 50 kinds of wrestling. Each has its own rules. Some kinds do not require a pin for victory. In Japanese sumo, for example, a wrestler tries to throw his opponent to the ground or force him outside a 15-foot (4.6-meter) circle.
Amateur wrestling is a popular sport in schools in the United States and Canada. Every year, students in elementary school through college take part in wrestling matches. National and world championship competitions are held annually. Every four years, wrestlers compete in the Summer Olympic Games. Wrestlers from Western Hemisphere nations also meet at four-year intervals in the Pan American Games.
The Federation Internationale de la Lutte Amateur (FILA) governs international amateur wrestling. USA Wrestling governs the sport in the United States. Although amateur wrestling traditionally is a sport for boys and men, FILA established separate competition for women's freestyle wrestling in 1988.
Chief forms of wrestling. The two most popular forms of wrestling in the world are Greco-Roman and freestyle. Freestyle is the older of the two forms and the most popular in North America. It resembles the style practiced by the ancient Greeks. The Greco-Roman style developed after the Romans conquered Greece and modified the Greeks' style. Greco-Roman is the more popular form throughout Europe. International competition, including the Olympics, is held in both freestyle and Greco-Roman.
Most of the rules and procedures in the two styles are the same. The main difference concerns the use of the legs. In freestyle, wrestlers may use the legs to grasp an opponent's arms or legs, or to trip or tackle an opponent's legs. In Greco-Roman, a wrestler cannot attack an opponent's legs or attack with his own legs. The legs may be used only for support, so upper body strength and leverage are the chief factors.
Some international wrestling meets feature competition in a style called sambo, or sombo, which originated in the Soviet Union in the 1930's. Sambo is a blend of several forms of wrestling and the martial arts, especially judo.
High school and intercollegiate wrestling. There are 13 weight classes in high school wrestling in the United States. There are 10 intercollegiate classes. A wrestler may weigh no more than the weight in his class, though he may weigh less. High school weight classes range from 100 pounds to a heavyweight class of no more than 275 pounds. Intercollegiate classes range from 118 pounds to no more than 275 pounds.
High school matches are divided into three periods of two minutes each. Intercollegiate matches begin with a three-minute period. The remaining two periods last two minutes each. Matches take place on a cushioned mat with a wrestling area at least 32 feet (9.75 meters) square or 32 feet in diameter. At least 5 feet (1.5 meters) of mat must surround the wrestling area. The first period begins with the wrestlers standing and facing each other. The second period begins with one wrestler having a choice of top position, bottom position, or neutral position, or the wrestler can defer the choice to the opponent. For a description of these positions, see the illustrations of holds and positions in the Wrestling article in the print version of The World Book Encyclopedia
Wrestlers receive points for skillfully executing various holds and maneuvers. They may also win points if their opponent commits a technical error, uses an illegal hold, or breaks a rule. The match ends when a wrestler gains a fall by holding his opponent's shoulders to the mat. The opponent's shoulders must be held for two seconds in a high school match and for one second in an intercollegiate match. If no fall occurs, the wrestler with the most points wins by a decision. The referee is sometimes assisted by a second referee.
International competition. There are 10 weight classes in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling in international competition, including the Olympics. They range from 105.5 pounds to a class of no more than 286 pounds. The participants in each weight class are paired using a blind draw within a bracket system. The athletes wrestle for the first six places. The top three receive medals.
Each match consists of one five-minute period, plus a three-minute overtime if neither wrestler has scored at least three points. The wrestlers start the match on their feet, facing each other. Three officials direct each match. At least two of them must agree on a decision.
Professional wrestling has become more of an entertainment spectacle than a sport. Showmanship often replaces skill. Most matches take place in a roped and padded ring similar to a boxing ring. Many wrestlers wear fantastic costumes and use unusual names. Many matches pair a "hero" against a "villain," and they often appear to be violently attacking each other.
Wrestling dates back to prehistoric times. In French caves, drawings and carvings 15,000 to 20,000 years old show wrestlers in various positions. Wrestling was introduced into the Olympic Games in Greece in 708 B.C. In America, Indians wrestled before Europeans arrived in the New World.
How Points are Scored in College Competition
Individual Match Points
Near fall 2 or 3 points
Takedown 2 points
Reversal 2 points
Time advantage (1 minute) 1 point
Escape 1 point
Dual Meet Points
Fall 6 points
Forfeit 6 points
Default 6 points
Disqualification 6 points
Match termination (by 15 points) 4 points
Decision (by 10 points) 4 points
Decision (by less than 10 points) 3 points