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Wrestling Freestyle


In freestyle wrestling, wrestlers may use their arms and legs and may hold opponents above or below the waist.

The oldest sport

With the possible exception of athletics, wrestling is recognised as the world’s oldest competitive sport. Indeed cave drawings of wrestlers have been found dating as far back as 3000 BC. The sport was introduced into the ancient Olympics in 708 BC, shortly after the Games' recorded history began.

Popular newcomer

In 1904, Olympic officials added freestyle wrestling, commonly known as "catch as catch can", to the programme. This style had far less history and tradition than Greco-Roman but did possess great popularity, having developed into a form of professional entertainment performed at fairs and festivals across Great Britain and the United States.

Greco vs freestyle

In Greco-Roman wrestling, the wrestlers use only their arms and upper bodies to attack, and can only hold those same parts of their opponents. As the name suggests, freestyle is a much more open form in which wrestlers also use their legs and may hold opponents above or below the waist.

Olympic history

The 1900 Games were the only ones where wrestling was not present in any shape or form. Freestyle wrestling first appeared on the Olympic programme at the 1904 Games in St Louis. It was not included in the 1912 Games, but since the 1920 Games in Antwerp, it has been present at every edition of the Games.

At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the Greco-Roman wrestling programme was modified. Only eight weight categories are now represented in each style, as opposed to the 10 that had been included since the 1972 Games in Munich. The reduction in the number of categories from 10 to seven in freestyle wrestling allowed for the introduction of women’s wrestling in 2004, at the Athens Games, where there were four women’s events on the programme.

The Japanese women won medals in each category, while the USA and France won two medals each. The first medal was won by Ukraine’s Irini Merlini, who dominated her four opponents in the 48kg category and went on to win the final by tie-break.

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Gallery

Buenos Aires 2018 - Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 110kg
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Buenos Aires 2018 - Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 110kg

Amir Hossein Abbas Zare of Islamic Republic of Iran (red) and Sergei Kozyrev of Russian Federation during the Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 110kg on Day 8 of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games at the Asia Pavilion, Youth Olympic Park on October 14, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
IOC/OIS
Buenos Aires 2018 - Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 80kg
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Buenos Aires 2018 - Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 80kg

Akhmedkhan Tembotov of Russian Federation (red) and Fateh Benferdjallah of Algeria during the Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 80kg on Day 8 of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games at the Asia Pavilion, Youth Olympic Park on October 14, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
IOC/OIS
Buenos Aires 2018 - Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 65kg
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Buenos Aires 2018 - Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 65kg

Turan Bayramov of Azerbaijan (red) and Mohammad Baghi Karimiseifabad of Islamic Republic of Iran during the Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 65kg on Day 8 of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games at the Asia Pavilion, Youth Olympic Park on October 14, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
IOC/OIS
Buenos Aires 2018 - Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 55kg
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Buenos Aires 2018 - Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 55kg

Hernan David Almendra of Argentina and Oussama Laribi of Algeria during the Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 55kg on Day 8 of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games at the Asia Pavilion, Youth Olympic Park on October 14, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
IOC/OIS
Buenos Aires 2018 - Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 48kg
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Buenos Aires 2018 - Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 48kg

Giorgi Gegelashvili of Georgia (silver), Umidjon Jalolov of Uzbekistan (gold) and Halil Gokdeniz of Turkey (bronze) pose with their medals after the Wrestling Freestyle - Men’s 48kg on Day 8 of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games at the Asia Pavilion, Youth Olympic Park on October 14, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
IOC/OIS
Wrestling Freestyle - 65kg Men
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Wrestling Freestyle - 65kg Men

Ikhtiyor Navruzov (red) of Uzbekistan and Soslan Ramonov (blue) of the Russian Federation compete in the Men's 65kg Semi Final match on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 2 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
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