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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

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.
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Wrestling Freestyle - 65kg Men
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Wrestling Freestyle - 65kg Men

Soslan Ramonov (blue) of the Russian Federation and Toghrul Asgarov of Azerbaijan compete in the Men's Freestyle 65kg Gold match on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 2 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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Wrestling Freestyle - 97kg Men
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Wrestling Freestyle - 97kg Men

Kyle Frederick Snyder of USA throws Javier Cortina Lacerra of Cuba during the Mens Freestyle 97kg Wrestling at Carioca Arena 2 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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Wrestling Freestyle - 65kg Men
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Wrestling Freestyle - 65kg Men

Soslan Ramonov of the Russian Federation celebrates after winning the gold in the Men's Freestyle 65kg Gold match against Toghrul Asgarov of Azerbaijan on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 2 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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Wrestling Freestyle - 97kg Men
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Wrestling Freestyle - 97kg Men

Kyle Frederick Snyder of USA throws Albert Saritov of Romania during the Mens Freestyle 97kg Wrestling at Carioca Arena 2 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Wrestling Freestyle - 97kg Men
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Wrestling Freestyle - 97kg Men

Kyle Frederick Snyder (Red) of the United States competes against Khetag Goziumov (blue) of Azerbaijan during the Men's Freestyle 97kg Gold medal match on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 2 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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