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Freestyle Wrestling

Last Updated On: November 1, 2020
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Wrestling is an awesome pass time sport all over the globe. One of the most popular forms of wrestling is freestyle wrestling. As a sport, freelance wrestling is adopted by high schools, colleges, and individuals can pursue it as a career. There are requirements that contestants must meet before joining freestyle wrestling competitions. Contestants need training to ensure that they can execute techniques properly and defeat opponents. Freestyle wrestling is a sport that participates in World Championship Series and Olympics.

What's Freestyle Wrestling?

Freestyle Wrestling – This is a sport that requires contestants to subdue the opponent by using their legs. Subduing an opponent cumulates to an automatic win in that category. It is a combination of sambo, judo, and traditional wrestling. The sport has been part of the Olympics since 1904, and winners have to defend the title. Points are awarded for hits that a wrestler and wins are given to the first wrestlers who subdues the other.


Freestyle wrestling is an old sport that started in the late 1800s catch-as-catch-can sport in Great Britain. Wrestlers had to make an opponent fall and onto the ground and hold on to their shoulders firmly. Contestants had to be strong enough to leverage opponents to the ground to win fights. Most fights ended up on the ground with wrestlers grappling, trying to outmaneuver one another and get the upper hand.

In the 1880s, freestyle wrestling was popular, and tournaments were being held locally. The New York Athletic Club held the first professional wrestling tournament, and by the end of the 1880s, professional wrestlers were getting a payment of $1,000 per game.

In 1896, freestyle wrestling was a part of wrestling but was not an official wrestling sport. Olympics accepted freestyle wrestling as a sport in 1904 but put restrictions on dangerous holds. Also, Olympic Games defined the weight limits from junior weight to heavyweights. Removal of dangerous hold was for the wrestlers' safety to ensure that no one has fatal injuries after a fight.

The United World Wrestling (UWW) was the first governing body to create freestyle wrestling rules in 1921. Wrestlers were expected to follow the rules of the game to avoid penalization or disqualification from tournaments. All the freestyle wrestling rules were adopted by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) as the rules for matches. Several changes in the rules have been made to accommodate the development of the sport.

Games were especially long at the beginning of the 19th century, and some world last for hours. Timed matches were introduced in the middle of the 19th century, and wrestlers had to work hard to gain the upper hand before the time was over. In the 1960s, three judges were added to tournaments to score freestyle wrestling games. The addition ensured that players had a fair score for executing moves that brought opponents down. In 1996, FILA was the governing body for freestyle wrestling, and they made significant changes in wrestling matches.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) made changes to remove wrestling from the 2020 Olympics. Wrestlers made petitions to fans to sign a petition requesting the governing body to return wrestling to the Olympics. Over 2,000,000 signatures and International Olympic Committee (IOC) accepted to return wrestling into Olympics on probationary bases in 2020 and 2024 Olympics. There are still hopes that wrestling will be part of the Olympics in the future.

Freestyle Wrestling Rules

Several rules apply to wrestling games to ensure a fair game for all parties. Here is a list of some of them:

Gender: Both genders are allowed to participate in the games. However, only men participated in matches initially.

Format: Freestyle wrestling matches begin with an introduction of each player. Introductions include brief accomplishments of the wrestler at the beginning of the match. After introductions, wrestlers shake hands, and the referee inspects each player for any infractions. Wrestlers settle on their sides of the mats and wait for the start whistle. The match begins once the referee blows the whistle.

Session: Each round includes three two-minute-long sessions. Judges score wrestlers depending on their competences. Wrestlers who have a higher score by the second round win without moving to the third round. For example, if player one has three-point from the first round and player two has one point, they will proceed to the second round. If player one gets two points in round two and player two gets zero points, then player one is the match-winner.

Scoring: Wrestlers get points for being aggressive and taking risks to beat an opponent. Wrestlers can earn from 1-5 points depending on their activities. Also, a player can get penalties for breaking the rules or not wearing the appropriate attire. Wrestlers get five points for a grand takedown, which places the opponent in a dangerous. Four points are awarded to contestants who takedown an opponent in a grand manner without placing an opponent in a dangerous position. Three points are awarded for any takedown that doesn't expose the opponent. Two points are awarded for a simple takedown, and one point is for a reverse move from a defendant.

Judges: Freestyle wrestling matches have three judges who keep the score. Judges have an area to sit and watch matches unobstructed.

Penalties: Contestants can lose one or two points for infractions during a match. Wrestlers who take a timeout for injuries that don't show blood lose points. Handling an opponent brutally can also result in penalties.

Weight Classes

There are five categories in the male weight classes, and four categories in women weigh classes. Men have weight classes for schoolboys (14-15yrs), cadets (16-17yrs), novice (18-19yrs), juniors (20 yrs), and seniors (above 20 yrs). The minimum weight limit for schoolboys is 29 kgs, while seniors' maximum weight limit is 120 kgs.

Women's weight class categories include schoolgirls, cadets, juniors, and seniors. Age limits for each class are 14-15 yrs for schoolgirls, 16-17 yrs for cadets, 18-19 years for juniors, and 20 years and above for seniors. The minimum weight limit for schoolgirls is 28kgs, while the maximum weight limit for seniors is 72kgs.

Contestants compete with opponents in the same weight class and the same gender. There are subcategories within each weight class to ensure a fair fight. Wrestlers can fight with opponents from the same subcategories or the ones above and below their subcategories. Wrestlers can advance through the weight classes with age. Governing bodies reject any contestant who doesn't meet the weight or age limit for a category. Wrestlers must meet the weight and age requirements to participate in tournaments.

There are exceptions where contestants meeting the minimum age limit of a category in the same year can fight in a higher category with a doctor's note. For example, a male cadet who is 17 years old can fight in the junior category after meeting all medical requirements.

Layout of the Mat

Freestyle wrestling mats are made of thick rubber and must be a diameter of 9m. There is a 1.5m border that ensures that players are safe and stay within the wrestling zone. There is a 7m diameter circle that indicates the central wrestling area. Outside the circle is a red area known as the passive zone. Players can lose points when pushed to the passive zone during a match. Olympic Games and the World Championships demand that the mat be new at the beginning of the event and placed on a 1.1m high podium.


Freestyle wrestlers need various equipment, the main ones being a signet, handkerchief, headgear, and shoes. A signet is a unique uniform for wrestlers made from spandex. It is light and doesn't constrict wrestler movements when grappling. Signets have a unique design that resembles biker shorts with attached suspenders. Shoes are a part of a wrestling outfit. The shoes are specially made to be flexible, light, and slip-resistant. Wrestlers must choose accurately fitting shows for comfort.

Each contestant needs a handkerchief, also known as a blood rag, to wipe any body fluids that fall on the mat during a fight. Blood rags are part of the signet, and contestants are expected to have one. A contestant can also use the rag to stop bleeding from an injury during a match. Freestyle wrestling doesn't require contestants to wear headgear, but a contestant forgoes wearing headgear at their own risk. The headgear is crucial for reducing head injuries during a freestyle wrestling match.


Referees are a crucial part of wrestling matches. A referee has the following responsibilities, among others, during a match:

  • Overseeing matches and ensuring that contestants follow the rules.
  • Inspecting contestants before a match to ensure they have the right equipment and don't have any oil on the body.
  • Pointing out any foul play or infractions that a wrestler may do during a game. The referee may also decide the course of action after identifying the infractions.
  • Indicating the start and end of each match. The referee blows the whistle to indicate when a match begins and ends.
  • Conferring with judges for situations that are unusual.

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