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Greco-Roman Wrestling

Greco-Roman Wrestling is a widely practiced sport worldwide with competitions for juniors and adults. The sport requires training because it has more rules than other forms of wrestling like freestyle wrestling.

It has its sets of rules and has been part of the Olympic Games since 1896 and is also part of the Summer Olympic Games. Like other wrestling forms, there are weight classes that wrestlers should meet to fight in a specific category.

Overall, Greco-Roman wrestling is widely practiced in schools where young students start practicing high school sport. Teaching kids from an early allows them to harness their skill and pursue it as a career. It is an acceptable sport in the U.S. and Britain.

Greco-Roman Wrestling is a wrestling style that doesn't include any form of holds below the waist like trips or hooks to an opponent's legs. The most prominent moves in Greco-Roman wrestling are throws that get opponents onto the mat for simple maneuvering. The wrestling style is also known as French wrestling or flat-hand wrestling.

The highest governing body for the sport is the United World Wrestling, which also governs freestyle wrestling, grappling, beach wrestling, and other competitive wrestling sports. There are local governing bodies that go by different names, depending on the country. Overall, the United World Wrestling organization stipulates the rules, equipment, and standards of Greco-Roman Wrestling.

History of Greco-Roman Wrestling

Greco-Roman Wrestling dates back to the Greek Olympics, where opponents wrestled in skin-tight shorts. There isn't much information on how Greco-Roman wrestling evolved across Europe from the ancient civilization to other parts of Europe. Throughout history, there are versions of Greco-Roman wrestling in European countries.

One of the most distinct events that set Greco-Roman wrestling apart from other forms of wrestling is when 1848 when a soldier named Jean Exbrayat held a performance. He showed Greco-Roman wrestling's distinct techniques and how they were different from other types of hand-to-hand combat.

The techniques that Exbrayat demonstrated became the basics of the sport known as Flat-Hand wrestling at French wrestling at the time. Greco-Roman came from an Italian wrestler who thought the name honored the ancient values upheld by the sport. More people in the 20th century found proof of the sport being part of the ancient civilization, and the name stuck.

Most countries were not ready to adopt Greco-Roman wrestling in the 1800s because of the sport's restrictive nature. Other forms of wrestling were more attractive than French wrestling, despite practitioners' efforts to promote the sport.

The tipping point got Greco-Roman wrestling was when prize money was introduced to the sport. Wrestlers joined the sport because it was more lucrative than other forms of wrestling. Some sponsors paid wrestlers to train for the sport, and the prize money was enough motivation for wrestlers to join competitions. Soon enough, the sport became famous across all the major cities in Europe in the 19th century.

Greco-Roman wrestling was part of the Olympic Games for the first time in 1896, which added to the sport's popularity in the 20th century. By that time, there were many tournaments in European and American wrestlers used to participate in them. They were brutal, consisting of chokeholds, punching, body slams, and head-butting.

Greco-Roman Wrestling Rules

All the participants of the match must follow the rules of the game to earn points. Breaking the rules can lead to penalties or disqualification from a match.

  • Any hold below the waist is forbidden.

  • Wrestlers should go to a match wearing the right attire.

  • You can’t use your legs or knees to attack an opponent.

  • Victory goes to the wrestler who accumulates most points by using several techniques of offense and defense. Therefore, wrestlers need to use several maneuvering tricks to accumulate a lot of points during the match.

  • If there isn't a winner in the neutral position segments, a referee must flip a coin to determine who starts the next sequence.

  • The ground combat segments start with the winner of the previous segment on top. If the wrestler on top doesn't earn points in the segment, officials have to award points to the wrestler at the bottom for defensive maneuvers.

  • Wrestlers switch positions on the ground combat segment so that each wrestler has a fair chance to be on top and earn points.

  • The fight format is one 60-second neutral segment where wrestlers are on their feet and two ground combat segments of 30-seconds each.

Weight Classes

There are four main categories in Greco-Roman international wrestling competitions: schoolboys, cadets, juniors, and seniors. Each category has weight classes that the contesters compete under to win. Anyone under 18 may be asked to provide a medical report and parental authorization before entering competitions in a higher weight class.

Schoolboys, the 14-15 years old fight in 10 weight classes between 29 Kg and 85 Kg. Boys who are 13 years can fights under the schoolboys category after producing a medical report and parental consent.

The cadet category accepts 16-17 years old and competes in 10 weight classes between the weights of 39 Kg and 100 Kg. Young men who are 15 years old can fight as cadets when they meet the weight class requirements. They have to provide a medical report and parental consent to fight as cadets.

The junior category has young men who are 18-20 years old and a weight limit of 46-120 Kg. Young men who are 17 years old can fight under the juniors category as long as they meet the weight requirement to qualify for one of the eight juniors weight classes. 17-year olds have to provide a medical report and parental consent to fight in a higher category.

The last category is the seniors, and it consists of men who are 20 years old and above. There are seven weight classes in the senior category, and the weight limit is 50-120 kg. There is a special category called the Veterans category for men who are 35 years and above. Veterans' weight classes are similar to those of the senior category, and anyone above 98 Kg is part of the heavyweight class.

All the classes above are what the governing wrestling board uses as a guideline for international wrestling competitions. However, individual countries have varying classes and categories. It makes sense because the development of male children is different depending on the geographical location and the area's culture. In some areas, boys grow up fast, while in others, boys experience a growth spurt late into their teens.

The Layout of the mat

Matches take place on a circular mat, and there is an international standard for the layout before matches. For starts, the mat should have shock-absorbing features, and it should be new for Olympic Games, World Cup’s, and World Championships.

The mat is placed on a platform no higher than 1.1 meters, and there are boundaries on the mat to signify different zones. The total wrestling area for Greco-Roman wrestling matches is 9m in diameter, and there is a 1.5m border. The border is known as the protection area, and it is the outermost part on the edge of the mat.

A red zone is drawn one meter from the edge of the 9m diameter circular mat. A wrestler who an opponent pushes to the red zone is passive during the match. There is a 7m diameter from the red zone where most of the wrestling activities take place. Finally, a small 1m diameter circle in the middle and a 10cm band demarcate it.

National and local Greco-Roman wrestling tournaments try to maintain the mat layout to teach wrestlers the parameters. However, international tournaments are obligated to use the mat layout to maintain the sport’s standards.

Greco-Roman Wrestling Equipment

Singlet: A singlet is a one-piece spandex garment that is flexible and comfortable for wrestlers. In matches, one wrestler wears a blue singlet and the other a red one to make it easy to distinguish them on the mat.

Wrestling shoes: There are special shoes for the sport that is flexible and comfortable. They have rubber soles, and they are light.

Handkerchief: A handkerchief is a civilized name for a blood rag that wrestlers should have to stop bleeding or wipe any bodily fluids on the mat. It is essential because there will be recurrent matches on the mat, and it should be clean.

Headgear: It is optional equipment, but it aims to protect the skull and ears of wrestlers. Wrestlers can forgo it during a match at their own risk.


The referees are responsible for ensuring that wrestlers follow the rules of the sport when on the mat. The referee blows the whistle to indicate the beginning and end of each match. A referee indicates when a wrestler makes a score or does an infraction during the match. At times a referee can consult the other officials during a match on various decisions.

Overall, the match's flow depends on the referee, and they ensure that each match keeps time. Although there is an official who keeps time, the referee calls it with a whistle.

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