This style of wrestling forbids holds underneath the waist.

The origins of Greco-Roman wrestling should not be sought in ancient times, since the style practised by the Greeks and the Romans was actually similar to freestyle wrestling. This style has its origins in the 19th century and was created by a Napoleon soldier named Exbroyat. He performed in Lyon fairs what he called “flat hand wrestling” to differentiate it from other combat sports where hitting his opponent was allowed. In 1848, he established as a rule, not to execute holds underneath the waist, and forbid holds and painful torsions that could hurt the adversary. “Flat hand wrestling”, also called “French wrestling” developed all throughout Europe and became the most important sport of the 19th century. The person who created the expression “Greco-Roman” was the Italian wrestler Basilio Bartoli, who wanted to underline the interest for Ancient values.

Greco-Roman wrestling was the first style registered in the Modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 and this form of professional entertainment became a first class amateur sport during the 20th century. Wrestling was never absent from the Olympic programme, except during the Games in Paris in 1900.

At present, Greco-roman wrestling counts seven weight categories:

55 kg, 60 kg, 66 kg, 74 kg, 84 kg, 96kg and 120 kg

According to the ranking of the last World Cup of Greco-Roman wrestling, the leading countries in this style are: Russia, France, Armenia, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Hungary, China, and Azerbaijan.


This style of wrestling authorizes leg holds in the execution of every action.

Freestyle wrestling developed in Great-Britain and in the United States under the name of catch-as-catch-can and became the favourite attraction in fairs and popular celebrations during the 19th century. The goal of this discipline was to bring the adversary’s shoulder to the ground and almost all holds were allowed. Wrestling in the United States was an extremely popular sport, and about half a dozen American presidents practised it: George Washington, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses Grant, Andrew Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, etc. Freestyle wrestling was introduced for the first time in the Saint Louis Olympic Games in 1904. All 40 wrestlers who participated were of American nationality. Competition rules were similar to those of catch-as-catch-can, with some restrictions concerning dangerous holds. The division of weight categories (47,6 kg, 52,2 kg, 56,7 kg, 61,2 kg, 65,3 kg, 71,7 kg et + 71,7kg) was an important innovation since wrestling competitions took place in a unique category.

At present, free style wrestling counts seven weight categories:

55 kg, 60 kg, 66 kg, 74 kg, 84 kg, 96kg and 120 kg

According to the ranking of the last World Cup of freestyle wrestling, the leading countries in this style are: Azerbaijan, Iran R.I., Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Georgia, Cuba, and Uzbekistan.

source: Fila Wrestling

Female Wrestling

Female wrestling is similar to freestyle wrestling, but it forbids double head locks (double Nelsons) which are dangerous for women.

Amateur female wrestling was first practised in France and Scandinavian countries in the 80s. At the beginning, both styles experienced a certain evolution, but in the end it was a mere copy of freestyle wrestling. It was managed by a special FILA committee, under the direction of Michel Dusson (1984). The first World Championship of female wrestling was held in Lorenskog (Norway) in 1987. Female wrestling was admitted for the first time in the Olympic programme on the occasion of the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.

At present, female style wrestling counts seven weight categories:

48 kg, 51 kg, 55 kg, 59 kg, 63 kg, 67kg and 72 kg.

Only four categories are in the Olympic program:

48kg, 55kg, 63 kg and 72kg.

According to the ranking of the last World Cup of female wrestling, the leader countries which prevail in this style are: China, Canada, Japan, Ukraine, United States, Russia, Mongolia, and Belarus.