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Greco-Roman Wrestling: All you Need to Know

Greco-Roman wrestling. It’s a wrestling style that was introduced in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, and has been included in every iteration of the Summer Olympics since 1904.

Greco-Roman wrestling, in contrast with freestyle wrestling, does not allow holds below the waist, or the use of the legs in offense and defense. This ruleset allows emphasis instead on throws, because it prohibits trip takedowns, in addition to hooking or grabbing the leg.

Because of this, Greco-Roman wrestlers have incredibly strong upper bodies, and are able to move heavy weight around with ease.

Like most amateur wrestling formats in the world, the core objective of Greco Roman wrestling is to either pin both of the opponent’s shoulders to the mat to win the match or accumulate more points at the end of a designated time-frame to secure victory.

A match or bout consists of two three-minute halves or periods separated by a 30-second break. Wrestlers can score points by executing holds, locks, throws or other legal takedowns.

The points awarded for moves and holds depend on the respective difficulty levels of their execution.

From a single move, a maximum of five points can be scored through a grand amplitude throw that ends in a ‘danger position’ (exposing the opponent’s back to the mat for several seconds). The move largely involves picking up and throwing the opponent to the ground and controlling him.

Points can also be earned through reversals – gaining control over an opponent from a defensive position – or if the opposition wrestler commits an infraction, resulting in a caution.

Scoring is cumulative, meaning points are added up at the end of two rounds and the highest scorer wins the match.

In case of a tie, the winner is determined according to the following criteria in decreasing order of priority – 1. Highest value (point) move executed through the match. 2. Least number of cautions received and 3. Last technical point scored. Having made its debut at the Olympic Games in 1896, Greco Roman wrestling has been a permanent fixture in the Games’ catalogue since 1908. And unlike freestyle, it has been exclusively a men’s only event at the Olympics.

According to United World Wrestling (UWW), the international wrestling federation governing the sport globally, the first edition was won by Germany’s Carl Schumann.

Besides clinching the top honour in the unified wrestling event in 1896, Schumann also won three other gymnastics events at Athens that year. At that time, winners received silver medals with olive branches. The tradition of gold medals only started in 1904.

In Greco Roman wrestling at the Olympics, countries from the former Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, Sweden, Finland, Japan and South Korea have been hugely successful.

For the Tokyo Games, there are six weight categories in Greco Roman wrestling – 60kg, 67kg, 77kg, 87kg, 97kg, 130kg.


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