The United World Wrestling (UWW) was founded in 1905, and initially governed both wrestling and weightlifting. It became independent as the International Ring Verband in 1912, changing its name to Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées (FILA) in 1953 and then to UWW in 2014. Wrestling has been contested since the inaugural modern Olympic Games in 1896.
When the Olympic Games returned in 1896 after a 1500-year gap, organisers seeking sports with direct links to ancient times found a natural candidate in wrestling. They resurrected Greco-Roman wrestling, a style they believed to be an exact carryover from the way people wrestled in classical times.
In Greco-Roman wrestling, competitors use only their arms and upper bodies to attack. They can hold only those same parts of their opponents. In 1904, a second wrestling event was added to the Olympic programme, called “freestyle”. In this style, wrestlers can use their legs for pushing, lifting and tripping, and they can hold opponents above or below the waist.
At the Olympic Games, men compete in seven weight divisions in both freestyle and Greco-Roman events. Women’s wresting was introduced at the 2004 Athens Games, with four weight divisions in the freestyle event, but with seven categories at the world and continental championships.
The competition at the Olympic Games is organised in a knockout tournament for each weight division. Each match is decided when one athlete manages to pin his opponent to the floor or hold him in a lock, forcing him to submit.