This combat sport is one of the most long-lasting, historically important sports and disciplines, not only for its weight in the development of humanity, but also for its entertainment quality. This has for centuries been enjoyed around the world.
The first record of wrestling as a form of combat dates back to the cave drawings of several thousand years ago. Since then, wrestling has been part of civilization, adopted and adapted by plenty of cultures. In Greece, wrestling was considered a science, a divine art, and crucial training for young men. It was one of the disciplines in the Ancient Olympic Games (708 B.C.) and gained immense popularity. However, popular as it was, it was banned by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I in the year 393 B.C.
After years of rupture, prohibition, and "underground practice" during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was in 1896 that wrestling was finally re-established along with the Olympic Games by Baron Pierre de Coubertin and the International Olympic Committee (established in 1894). Surprising as it may sound, France was a huge precursor of the rise and semi-fall of wrestling during the 19th century. On one hand, there were groups formed by men who traveled around France to wrestle and entertain, making wrestling a professional activity. This exposure extended wrestling to Italy, the Austrian Hungarian Empire, Russia, and Denmark; while on the other hand, fights were being pre-arranged, wrestlers were more showmen than wrestlers, the corruption was palpable, and the once-divine discipline was seen as a bit of a joke.
Wrestling went through years of evolution and recreation, but it wasn't until after the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, where a legendary 11-hour match was completed between the wrestlers Alfred Johan Asikainen (Finland) and Martin Klein (Russia), that the sport was put on the spotlight once again. The International Federation was created and the sport was introduced and encouraged in every country, bringing with it more structure and the core value of the sport. Another huge development happened in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. A century after the introduction of Freestyle Wrestling in the Olympic program, female wrestling was acknowledged as an Olympic discipline. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) aimed at establishing equality in the sport and legitimizing the efforts made by the United World Wrestling (then called International Federation of Amateur Wrestling (FILA in French)) to support the development of female wrestling.
Freestyle and Greco-Roman styles remain two of the most popular disciplines in the modern Olympics. However, Championships, International Tournaments, and World Cups are held worldwide throughout the year. More wrestling Committees, such as the Associated Wrestling Styles, Beach Wrestling, and others, have been formed, all of them ensuring the continued growth and evolution of this historical sport. The UWW not only provides every tool and support to the athletes, but it also encourages coaches, physicians, and communities to get involved in the improvement of the sport, to keep learning and sharing their knowledge through workshops, events, and courses.