wrestling


wrestling
/res"ling/, n.
1. a sport in which two opponents struggle hand to hand in order to pin or press each other's shoulders to the mat or ground, with the style, rules, and regulations differing widely in amateur and professional matches. Cf. catch-as-catch-can (def. 3), Greco-Roman (def. 3).
2. the act of a person who wrestles.
[bef. 1100; ME; OE wraestlunge. See WRESTLE, -ING1]

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Sport in which two competitors grapple with and strive to trip or throw each other down or off-balance.

It is practiced in various styles, including freestyle wrestling, in which contestants can use holds above and below the waist, and Greco-Roman wrestling, which allows only holds above the waist. Sambo is a style of Russian origin employing judo techniques. Sumo wrestling is a specialized Japanese variety. U.S. professional wrestling is today among the most popular of all spectator sports, though it principally involves wildly flamboyant showmanship, including such nonclassical moves as kicks to the head that would be lethal if they were not actually pulled.

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▪ 2009

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      Wrestling medals were contested in three disciplines—men's Greco-Roman, men's freestyle, and women's freestyle—at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Russia once again won the medal count in men's freestyle competition, with a total of six medals (three gold, one silver, and two bronze). Ukraine and Georgia completed the medal count with three each. The 74-kg class victory went to Russia's Buvayasa Saytiyev, who had also won gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 2004 Games in Athens. His achievement equaled that of Aleksandr Medved of the Soviet Union, who won Olympic titles in 1964, 1968, and 1972; they were the only two freestyle wrestlers to claim three Olympic gold medals.

       Japan repeated at the top of the women's freestyle competition, with four medals, including two gold. Olympic host country China and Canada both finished with two medals each. American Randi Miller captured the bronze medal in the 63-kg class, winning a one-point decision over Martine Degrenier of Canada.

      In Greco-Roman competition Russia led the medal count with four (three gold and one silver). During the medal ceremony for the 84-kg class, Ara Abrahamian of Sweden took the bronze medal from around his neck and dropped it on the mat in protest as he walked away. The public display came after a disputed point in Abrahamian's semifinal contest against eventual gold medalist Andrea Minguzzi of Italy. The International Olympic Committee stripped Abrahamian of his medal, and the Fédération Internationale de Lutte Amateur, the sport's governing body, banned him from competition for two years.

      In American collegiate wrestling, Iowa, with 117.5 points, rolled to its 21st National Collegiate Athletic Association crown, this one by a 38.5-point margin over second-place Ohio State (79 points). Placing third was Penn State (75 points), closely followed by Nebraska (74 points).

André Reddington

Sumo.
      Returning from his two-basho (grand tournament) suspension, yokozuna (grand champion) Asashoryu narrowly lost the January 2008 Hatsu (New Year's) Basho to fellow yokozuna Hakuho. Asashoryu won the Haru (spring) Basho in March. Bulgarian-born Kotooshu prevailed in the Natsu (summer) Basho in May, the first time a European fighter had won a yusho (championship). Hakuho took advantage of injuries to Asashoryu and swept the remaining three basho for 2008.

      Outside the ring, scandal continued to plague the ancient sport. In mid-August Russian wrestler Wakanoho was arrested for marijuana use, and a week later he was expelled; his countrymen Roho and Hakurozan were arrested and expelled in early September. This forced the resignation of Japan Sumo Association (JSA) Chairman Kitanoumi. Reforms that the JSA adopted included drug testing, stricter guidelines for athlete conduct and training, and oversight by directors appointed from outside the sport.

Ken Coller

▪ 2008

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      Wrestling medals were contested in three disciplines—men's Greco-Roman, men's freestyle, and women's freestyle—at the 2007 Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées world championships in September in Baku, Azer. The U.S. (31 points) came back from a 30–29 deficit to win its first Greco-Roman world championship competition, ahead of Russia (30 points) and Georgia (28 points). American Brad Vering earned an 84-kg silver, with teammates Harry Lester (66 kg) and Dremiel Byers (120 kg) taking bronze medals. The best previous finish by a U.S. Greco-Roman team at the world championship was third place in 2001 and 2006.

      In men's freestyle competition, Russia again took the team title, winning six of seven weight classes and posting a combined 37–1 match record, with a team total of 68 points. Turkey (40 points) placed second, Cuba (34 points) third, and the U.S. (32 points) fourth.

      Japan repeated as the women's freestyle team champion, with four individual champions and 52 points, followed by Kazakhstan and Ukraine (tied with 39 points), China (36 points), and the U.S. (32 points). American Kristie Marano tied heavyweight freestyle legend Bruce Baumgartner's U.S. record by winning her ninth world medal (in nine trips to the worlds).

      In American collegiate wrestling, Minnesota won its third National Collegiate Athletic Association championship in seven years; the Golden Gophers outscored the Iowa State Cyclones 98–88.5 before a record crowd of 17,780 in Auburn Hills, Mich. Missouri (80 points) hung on for third place; Northwestern (71.5 points) finished fourth; and four-time defending champion Oklahoma State (69 points) placed fifth.

André Reddington

Sumo.
 Mongolian-born ozeki (champion) Hakuho won consecutive yusho (victories) at the first two basho (grand tournaments) of 2007, the Haru (spring) Basho in March and the Natsu (summer) Basho in May, earning promotion to yokozuna (grand champion). Yokozuna Asashoryu, who had dominated competition the previous two years, won the Hatsu (New Year's) Basho in January and the Nagoya Basho in July, but he suffered an unprecedented suspension from fighting in the two remaining tournaments—the Aki (autumn) Basho in September and November's Kyushu Basho—after he participated in a charity association football (soccer) game while claiming injury.

      Hakuho's victories in those remaining bashos took place amid another scandal, the death of a trainee after an allegedly brutal hazing in the prestigious Tokitsukaze stable. The stablemaster (coach) was sacked, pending criminal charges, and active wrestler Tokitsuumi retired to immediately take his place. Other 2007 retirements included those of Tochiazuma, Takanowaka, Buyuzan, and Ichinoya.

Ken Coller

▪ 2007

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      The 2006 Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées world wrestling championships were held September 25–October 1 in Guangzhou, China. The three disciplines being contested attracted a record entry of 628 athletes from 94 countries and regions. In men's freestyle competition, Russia (51 points) added another team gold medal, followed by Iran (44 points). The U.S. was third with 35 points. Russia's five medalists included Khadzimurat Gatsalov, who won his third consecutive 96-kg title. The success of Bill (66-kg gold) and Mike (60-kg silver) Zadick marked the first time an American brother combination had won medals the same year since Terry and Tom Brands each won gold at the 1993 world championships.

       Japan (67 points) won the women's freestyle team title, with five gold medalists in seven weight classes. China (41 points) was second, followed by Canada (30 points). American Kristie Marano, a bronze medalist at 72 kg, won her record eighth world medal.

       Turkey (39 points) took the Greco-Roman team title, ahead of Russia and the U.S., tied at 34 points. Hamid Surian-Reyhanpur of Iran, in the 54-kg division, was the only repeat winner from 2005.

      In American collegiate wrestling, Oklahoma State—led by three-time champion Jake Rosholt and two-time champion Johny Hendricks—won the school's fourth straight National Collegiate Athletic Association title and 34th overall. Oklahoma State (122.5 points) finished 38.5 points ahead of second-place Minnesota and 42 above the host team, Oklahoma.

André Reddington

Sumo.
      For the fifth consecutive year, in 2006 yokozuna (grand champion) Asashoryu won more officially sanctioned bouts than any other rikishi (“strong man”), garnering the yusho (championship) in four of the year's six basho (grand tournaments). After ozeki (champion) Tochiazuma won the Hatsu (New Year's) Basho in January, the Mongolian-born Asahoryu won the Haru (spring) Basho held in Osaka in March, defeating promising young Mongolian Hakuho in a play-off. Promoted to ozeki rank, Hakuho proceeded to win the Natsu (summer) Basho in May. The yokozuna returned to form and dominated the remaining three basho, finishing with a perfect 15–0 record at November's Kyushu Basho. Despite the lack of a strong rival to Asashoryu, sumo popularity rose in 2006, especially overseas. At the end of the year, almost a quarter of the top-division men were non-Japanese.

      Notable retirees from the fighting ring were Hayateumi, Toki, Kinkaiyama, and the popular Kyokushuzan, who was the first competitor from Mongolia to achieve success in professional sumo.

Ken Coller

▪ 2006

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      Wrestling medals were contested in three disciplines—men's Greco-Roman, men's freestyle, and women's freestyle—at the 2005 Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées world championships, held September 26–October 2 in Budapest. In men's freestyle Russia won the team competition, with four gold medals and 54 points. Cuba (39 points) placed second, and Georgia (33 points) was third. Buvaysa Saytyev of Russia, a two-time Olympic champion, won his sixth world gold medal in the 74-kg division, defeating local favourite Arpad Ritter of Hungary 3–0, 3–1 in the finals.

      In women's freestyle competition Japan was the top-ranked team, with 61 points and four individual champions. Japan was followed by China (52 points) and the U.S. (42 points). American Iris Smith defeated five-time world champion Kyoko Hamaguchi of Japan to win the gold medal at 72 kg. It was Smith's second appearance at the world level and her first medal.

      Host country Hungary (41 points) won the Greco-Roman team title, ahead of Russia (27 points) and Turkey (26 points). Mijail López of Cuba won his first world title in Greco-Roman competition. López hit a five-point throw in the first period of the 120-kg final and handed Mihaly Deak-Bardos of Hungary his fifth career world silver medal.

      In American collegiate wrestling Oklahoma State University captured its 33rd (and third straight) National Collegiate Athletic Association wrestling championship, with a record-tying five individual champions. The University of Michigan finished second, and the University of Oklahoma edged Cornell for third place.

André Reddington

Sumo.
 Mongolian-born yokozuna (grand champion) Asashoryu had another year of sumo dominance in 2005, sweeping all six of the 15-day basho (grand tournaments) with a record-setting 84 of a possible 90 victories. He became the first rikishi (“strong man”) to mark seven consecutive yusho (championships) and achieved a perfect 15–0 record in the Hatsu (New Year's) Basho and the Natsu (summer) Basho. At midyear Bulgarian-born Kotooshu proved the only man capable of challenging Asashoryu, and in November Kotooshu became the first European to be promoted to ozeki (champion), breaking the record set by Asashoryu for the quickest rise to that rank.

      Kotonowaka was required to retire during the Kyushu Basho in November 2005 when his master, the former yokozuna Kotozakura, reached mandatory retirement age. Kotonowaka inherited ownership of Kotozakura's powerful Sadogatake beya (sumo stable). Other notable retirements during the year included Asanowaka, Kotoryu, Wakanoyama, Gojoro, and Yotsukasa.

Ken Coller

▪ 2005

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      Wrestling medals were contested in three disciplines—men's freestyle, women's freestyle, and men's Greco-Roman—at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Russia won the medal count in the men's freestyle competition with five, including three golds and two bronzes. The U.S. had three medals, with Cael Sanderson capturing a gold. Iran also claimed three medals—two silvers and a bronze. For the first time, women wrestlers competed in a modern Olympics, contesting freestyle events in four weight divisions—48 kg, 55 kg, 63 kg, and 72 kg. With her gold medal in the 48-kg event, Ukraine's Irini Merleni became the first female Olympic wrestling champion. Japan won the overall award tally in the women's competition with four medals, including two golds, one silver, and one bronze. The U.S. and France had two medals each.

      In Greco-Roman competition, Russia claimed the unofficial team title with four medals, followed by Turkey and Kazakhstan with two each. The highlight was Egyptian Karam Ibrahim's victory in the 96-kg division. Ibrahim scored a 12–1 technical superiority win over Ramaz Nozadze of Georgia to give Egypt its first Olympic gold medal since 1948. In the superheavyweight competition, American Rulon Gardner, the surprise winner of the gold medal at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia, captured the bronze and then retired from the sport.

      In collegiate wrestling Oklahoma State University was dominant from start to finish, winning its 32nd national championship with a 41.5-point margin of victory over the University of Iowa.

André Reddington

Sumo.
      Yokozuna (grand champion) Asashoryu, who was born in Mongolia, won all but one of the six 15-day grand sumo tournaments in 2004. His 35 consecutive victories to start the year constituted a record eclipsed only by the great yokozuna Futabayama, Chiyonofuji, and Taiho. Ozeki (champion) Kaio won the Aki Basho in September and would have been promoted with a second consecutive yusho (championship) but fell short in November's Kyushu Basho.

      Promising young wrestlers from Eastern Europe and Mongolia, as well as from Japan, continued to change the face of the top division of the sport, and the average weight and age decreased. The popularity of sumo continued to decline in Japan, while it increased outside the country. Tours were made to South Korea and China.

      Two veteran ozeki, Takanonami and Musoyama, as well as former top division rikishi (“strong man”) Oginishiki and Hamanoshima retired and accepted positions within the Japan Sumo Association.

Ken Coller

▪ 2004

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      In September 2003 Georgia triumphed by one point in the Fédération Internationale de Lutte Amateur (FILA) men's world freestyle wrestling championships at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The U.S. beat Iran for second place via a tiebreaker because Americans had gained the most silver medals. Top wrestlers from more than 70 countries took part in the event, which set a record for attendance for a non-Olympic international wrestling event, drawing a total of 53,665 spectators.

      At the women's freestyle championships, which were held in conjunction with the men's, Japan tied with the U.S. but won the tiebreaker by earning more gold medals. Japanese women swept all five of their finals, beating Americans in three of those bouts. The U.S. qualified for all four women's Olympic weight classes for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

      At the Greco-Roman world championships, held in Créteil, France, in October, Georgia also took the team gold medal (its second), scoring 29 points to beat the runner-up and reigning world champion, Russia (25 points), and Ukraine (25).

      FILA announced that it would induct its first class of honorees for the new FILA International Wrestling Hall of Fame. The FILA Hall of Fame would be housed at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in Stillwater, Okla.

      In March Oklahoma State University won its 31st National Collegiate Athletic Association wrestling championship with a 38.5 margin of victory over the University of Minnesota.

André Reddington

Sumo.
      Yokozuna (grand champion) Takanohana, who had dominated professional sumo for the past decade, retired in January 2003. This event almost overshadowed the performance of Asashoryu, who won promotion to yokozuna after his second consecutive yusho (championship). For the rest of 2003, Mongolian-born Asashoryu stood with the U.S.-born yokozuna Musashimaru at the top rank of the sumo world, the first time two foreigners had done so.

      Asashoryu had the most victories of any rikishi (“strong man”) for the year, adding championships at the Natsu Basho in May and the Aki Basho in September. Three men at ozeki (champion) rank won the events staged outside Tokyo. Chiyotaikai and Kaio seized the Emperor's Cup in Osaka's Haru Basho in March and July's Nagoya Basho, respectively, while Tochiazuma won the Kyushu Basho in Fukuoka in November.

      At the end of the year, former yokozuna Akebono abruptly left the Japan Sumo Association, dashing hopes that he would succeed his coach. Musashimaru retired, as did former maegashira (rank-and-file) Sentoryu (Henry Armstrong Miller) of St. Louis, Mo.

Ken Coller

▪ 2003

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      In the freestyle world championships, held in Tehran on Sept. 5–7, 2002, host Iran claimed the team gold medal—its fourth team title, previous wins having occurred in 1961, 1965, and 1998. Iran earned four individual medals and the team gold with 43 points, followed by Russia with 42 points and Cuba with 34. Top wrestlers from more than 40 countries took part in the event; the U.S. team withdrew, however, after Iranian officials indicated that it would be “out of our control” to protect American wrestlers from possible anti-U.S. demonstrators.

      The Greco-Roman championships were held in Moscow on September 19–22. Russia took the team crown with 45 points, followed by Georgia with 27 points and Cuba with 26. The U.S. placed fifth in competition but came away with one gold medal when Dremiel Byers won the 120-kg (264.5-lb) event to become only the fourth American wrestler to have captured a world Greco-Roman title.

      Milan Ercegan resigned as president of the Fédération Internationale de Lutte Amateur (FILA; International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles) on September 19. Ercegan had served as FILA's president for 30 years and had been instrumental in organizing the first World Cup in 1973 and in developing women's wrestling, set to become an Olympic sport in 2004 in Athens. Succeeding Ercegan was Raphael Martinetti, who was elected FILA's sixth president.

      History was made at the 2002 U.S. collegiate championships held in Albany, N.Y., on March 21–24, when Cael Sanderson of Iowa State University won his 159th consecutive match to finish his four-year collegiate career undefeated. Sanderson was only the second college wrestler in history to have won four Division I championships. Defending team champion Minnesota won its second straight title.

André Reddington

Sumo.
      The year 2002 began with freshly promoted ozeki (champion) Tochiazuma winning the New Year's tournament (Hatsu Basho), defeating ozeki Chiyotaikai in a play-off. Chiyotaikai took the yusho (tournament championship) in July, while yokozuna (grand champion) Musashimaru won in March and May. Newly promoted ozeki Asashoryu won his first yusho in November's Kyushu Basho, the first Mongolian to do so.

      After an unprecedented seven-basho absence, yokozuna Takanohana returned for September's Aki Basho. Contending for the championship until the final day, he lost to Musashimaru. Takanohana, the dominant rikishi of the 1990s, had injured his right knee in May 2001 and required extensive recuperation. He was ordered to fight well or retire, and the drama of his comeback was a remedy for the malaise that afflicted sumo's popularity.

      There were several significant retirements during 2002. Terao, whose career spanned three decades, called it quits at the age of 39. Takatoriki, winner of the March 2000 yusho, was to take over for sumo legend Taiho at his training facility. Tomonohana, Daishi, Asanosho, and Minatofuji also exited during what was seen as a “changing of the guard” from the Chiyonofuji era.

Ken Coller

▪ 2002

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      In 2001 the world wrestling championships attracted most of the attention in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. The joint event was originally scheduled for New York City's Madison Square Garden on September 26–29, but it was canceled after the terrorist attacks on September 11. The freestyle championships for men and women were later held simultaneously in Sofia, Bulg., on November 22–25. In the men's division Russia won the team race with 51 points. Second place went to host country Bulgaria (46 points); Iran came in third (37 points). In the women's division China won the team title with 36 points. Close behind for second and third places were Japan and Ukraine, both with 33 points. Japan broke the tie and took second place by having more gold medals than Ukraine (two versus one).

      The Greco-Roman championships were held in Patras, Greece, on December 6–9. Cuba pulled a big upset by ousting Russia for the team title with 54 points to Russia's 38. Third place went to the United States, the first time in history the U.S. had won a team medal. This bronze-medal performance was made possible by the efforts of reigning Olympic superheavyweight (130-kg [286-lb]) champion Rulon Gardner, 1996 Olympic 54-kg (119-lb) silver medalist Brandon Paulson, and 2000 Olympic 85-kg (187-lb) silver medalist Matt Lindland, who won gold, silver, and silver, respectively, in Patras.

      In March Minnesota outdistanced Iowa 138.5 to 125.5 to win the National Collegiate Athletic Association wrestling championships for the first time in school history. All 10 Minnesota wrestlers placed in the top eight in their weight class, yet not one was a finalist, both firsts for a championship team at the NCAA wrestling tournament.

John Hoke

Sumo
      Professional sumo's popularity in Japan continued to slip in 2001, to perhaps the lowest level in the post-World War II era. The slump was partially attributed to the country's faltering economy and the resultant decline in domestic consumption. The aging of the popular top rikishi of the 1990s, however, and the inability of a new generation of rikishi to advance to the higher ranks also contributed to reduced popularity.

      The most dramatic event in sumo in 2001 was the abrupt retirement of American-born yokozuna (grand champion) Akebono after missing the New Year's tournament (Hatsu Basho) in January. Akebono retired at a topknot-cutting ceremony in September with an impressive career record of 566 wins, 198 losses, and 181 days absent in themakuuchi division.

      Takanohana, the strongest yokozuna of the 1990s, won the Hatsu and Natsu (summer) bashos, but he suffered a severe kneecap injury on the next-to-last day of the May tournament and was unable to compete for the rest of the year. Ozeki (champion) Kaio won the Haru Basho in March and the Nagoya Basho in July, but he was unable to move up to yokozuna because of back trouble. Dejima and Miyabiyama were demoted from ozeki during the year, resulting in three former ozeki in active competition in November.

Clyde Newton

▪ 2001

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      The highlight in wrestling at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, was the win of unheralded U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner over previously unbeaten Aleksandr Karelin of Russia in the superheavyweight division. Karelin, considered the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of all time, was attempting to win his fourth Olympic gold to go with his nine world championship titles. He had never lost in international competition and had not been scored upon in a decade. Gardner won a one-point decision, which came when Karelin broke his grip after the wrestlers were placed in a clinch at the beginning of the second period. Russia was the unofficial team champion with two golds; the remaining five gold medals went to South Korea, Bulgaria, Cuba, Turkey, and Sweden.

      In freestyle the U.S. failed to gain a gold medal on the mats for the first time since 1968, but a drug disqualification of Germany's 1994 world champion, Alexander Leipold, at 76 kg (167.5 lb) gave American Brandon Slay the gold. Russia claimed the unofficial team title with five medals, including four golds. The United States was second with four medals. Azerbaijan, Iran, and Canada each took one gold.

      The U.S. defeated Iran 17–11 and Russia 22–9 to claim the XXVIII World Cup of freestyle wrestling in Fairfax, Va., in February 2000. Iran upset Russia 17–15 to finish second in the team competition, while Cuba was fourth. In March the University of Iowa claimed its sixth straight National Collegiate Athletic Association wrestling championship—its 20th NCAA title since 1975.

John Hoke

Sumo.
      In 2000, for the first time since his heyday in 1993, the 31-year-old, Hawaiian-born yokozuna (grand champion) Akebono captured the yusho (championship) of more than one tournament during the year, winning the titles of both the Nagoya Basho in July and the Kyushu Basho in November. Three others won their first yusho ever, with sekiwake (junior champion) Musoyama taking the New Year's tournament (Hatsu Basho) in January, number 14 maegashira (senior wrestler) Takatoriki coming through in March to grab the Haru Basho, and sekiwake Kaio winning the Natsu (summer) Basho in May. Both Musoyama and Kaio were promoted to sumo's second highest rank of ozeki (champion) at the end of the basho following their respective victories. At age 32, Takatoriki was the lowest ranked sumo wrestler in history to win the championship. The remaining Aki Basho in September was captured by yokozuna Musashimaru, marking the eighth title for the 29-year-old, Samoan-born rikishi.

      In other developments, 29-year-old yokozuna Wakanohana retired in the first week of the March tournament, less than two years after his promotion to the top rank. He had won five titles but failed to win a yusho as a yokozuna. Other retirements were announced by 32-year-old Kotonishiki, the only maegashira in history to win two championships (in September 1991 and November 1998), and 38-year-old Mitoizumi.

Andy Adams

▪ 2000

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      The U.S. defeated Iran 20–12 to claim the Avista Corp. XXVII World Cup of Freestyle Wrestling in Spokane, Wash., on April 3, 1999. Both Iran and the U.S. had perfect 3–0 records entering the final duel, and the outcome was not decided until the final bout, when American heavyweight Kerry McCoy pinned Iran's Ebrahim Mehraban. The U.S. claimed four gold medals to Iran's three. Cuba defeated Germany 19–11 to finish third in the team competition, while Canada was fifth. The competition was originally scheduled to include six teams, but at the last minute defending World Cup champion Russia canceled its plans when three team members were unable to get visas to enter the U.S.

      Russia won the team title with 48 points in the freestyle world championships, held October 7–10 in Ankara, Turkey. The U.S. and Turkey finished tied with 45 points each, but the U.S. won the tie-breaker with more wrestlers (three) earning medals.

      Russia edged Cuba 40–38 for the team title in the Greco-Roman world championships held in Athens on September 23–26. Russia's incredible superheavyweight Aleksandr Karelin ran his string of titles to a dozen, winning his ninth career world gold medal to go with three Olympic gold medals. Karelin, who had never lost an international match, defeated Cuban Hector Milian, a 1992 Olympic champion at 100 kg (220 lb), 3–0.

John Hoke

Sumo.
      Musashimaru, who was born in Samoa and grew up in Hawaii, dominated Japanese professional sumo in 1999, winning four of the six annual tournaments and gaining the Rikishi of the Year award for the best record: 70 wins and 20 losses. Sekiwake (junior champion) Chiyotaikai won the New Year's tournament (Hatsu Basho) with a 13–2 record after a play-off with yokozuna (grand champion) Wakanohana. It was Chiyotaikai's first yusho (championship) and earned him promotion to sumo's second highest rank of ozeki (champion). Musashimaru's stablemate Dejima took the Nagoya Basho title in July with a 13–2 record (driving out yokozuna Akebono in a play-off) and was promoted to ozeki as a result. Musashimaru captured both the Haru Basho in March at Osaka and the Natsu Basho in May—both with 12–3 records—to win promotion as sumo's 67th yokozuna. Musashimaru also won the Aki Basho with a 13–2 record, as well as the Kyushu Basho, the year's sixth and last tourney. In 1999's other sumo events, four former top-division rikishi announced their retirement from the dohyo (sumo ring), while five others had their topknots cut off at formal danpatsu retirement ceremonies.

Andy Adams

▪ 1999

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      In April 1998 Russia captured the 26th World Cup of freestyle wrestling when heavyweight Andrey Shumilin defeated Tom Erickson of the U.S. 1-0 in overtime, giving the Russians a 16-15 victory and the gold medal. The U.S. finished second, followed by Iran, Cuba, Germany, and Japan. The U.S. came back to defeat Russia 16-14 for the gold medal in the Goodwill Games held July 25-26 in New York City. The turning point for the Americans was Tony Purler's fall over Murad Ramazanov at 58 kg. The U.S. claimed three individual gold medals, the same number as Russia, while Iran took two.

      In the freestyle world championships held in Tehran on September 8-11, host Iran won the team title with 63 points, including three champions and six medalists. Russia was second with 54 points, and the U.S. was third. Six of eight U.S. wrestlers finished in the top 10 of their weight classes, with Sam Henson the only gold medalist.

      At the Greco-Roman world championships held in Gävle, Swed., on August 27-30, the Russians won the team title with four individual champions, and South Korea was second, followed by Turkey and Kazakstan. Russian superheavyweight Aleksandr Karelin won the title at 130 kg with a fall in the finals over Matt Ghaffari of the U.S., earning his 11th straight world or Olympic gold medal, the most of any wrestler in history. In 1998 Karelin, who had never lost an international wrestling match, was the only wrestler with eight career world gold medals and three Olympic golds.

JOHN HOKE

Sumo.
      In 1998 ozeki (champion) Musashimaru won the New Year's tournament (Hatsu Basho) with a 12-3 record for his third championship. Wakanohana captured both the Haru Basho in March and the Natsu Basho in May to gain promotion as the 66th yokozuna (grand champion). It marked the first time that sumo had two brothers designated as yokozuna. Takanohana, Wakanohana's younger brother, clinched the yusho (victory) of the Nagoya Basho in July and then triumphed again in September at the Aki Basho for his 20th title. Lowly ranked number 12 maegashira (senior wrestler) Kotonishiki stunned the sumo world by winning the Kyushu Basho in November with a 14-1 record.

      In January the Sumo Association elected Tokitsukaze Oyakata, formerly the ozeki Yutakayama, as the new rijicho (chairman). Former komusubi (junior champion second class) Kenko died in March at the age of 30 from a pulmonary condition. Hawaiian-born ozeki Konishiki retired from sumo in September to embark on a new career in the world of entertainment.

ANDY ADAMS

▪ 1998

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      On Jan. 1, 1997, eight new men's weight classes (down from 10), which had been approved by the Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées (FILA) in August 1996, became effective. This was the biggest rule change since 1969 and applied to all FILA-sanctioned events.

      At the freestyle world championships, held in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, on August 28-31, 44 teams competed. The host Russian team captured two gold medals and claimed the team title with 61 points, followed by Ukraine with 45 points and Iran with 40. The U.S. took only two medals, one gold as Les Gutches took the title at 85 kg and one silver from Cary Kolat at 63 kg. Both were competing in their first world championship. The U.S. team finished sixth with 29 points, one point behind Cuba and Turkey.

      The Russian team duplicated its freestyle win in the Greco-Roman world championships, held in Wroclaw, Pol., on September 10-13. Russian wrestlers took three gold medals en route to the team title with 60 points, followed by Turkey with 38 points and Germany with 31 points. Russian superheavyweight Aleksandr Karelin, winner of a record three Olympic gold medals in wrestling, won the title at 130 kg.

      At the 67th U.S. collegiate championships, held in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on March 20-22, defending champion University of Iowa won its 17th title with a record 170 points and five champions over runner-up Oklahoma State. A record 17,436 fans—the largest amateur wrestling crowd in U.S. history—witnessed the finals.

JOHN HOKE

Sumo.
      In 1997, for the fourth consecutive year, yokozuna (grand champion) Takanohana emerged as the leading figure in Japanese sumo wrestling, winning 78 of the 90 annual bouts and three of the six basho (tournaments). Wakanohana opened the year with a victory in January. His hopes of gaining promotion to yokozuna in March were sidetracked by an injury, and Takanohana captured the Emperor's Cup after a four-way play-off. Hawaiian-born Akebono came on strong at the end of the May basho, beating Takanohana in their final bout and again in a play-off to take the yusho (victory) for his ninth championship. Takanohana bounced back in July, decisively defeating Akebono on the final day to clinch the Nagoya basho title. Takanohana made it two in a row by winning the Aki basho in September after a play-off with Musashimaru to boost his yusho total to 18. In the year's final tournament, Takanonami surprised his stablemate Takanohana in a play-off to claim the title—his second.

      Another highlight of the year was the retirement of Hawaiian-born former ozeki (champion) Konishiki after an outstanding 15-year career. The heaviest-ever in sumo history at more than 278 kg (612 lb), Konishiki won three titles and in 1992 narrowly missed promotion to yokozuna.

ANDY ADAMS

▪ 1997

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      At the Centennial Olympic Games July 30-August 2 in Atlanta, Ga., the U.S. captured the most freestyle medals (five), followed by Russia with four. Iran and South Korea each earned three. No team scoring is kept in the Olympics, but the Russians unofficially finished first with 66 points to 63 for the U.S. By winning a bronze medal, heavyweight Bruce Baumgartner of the U.S. made Olympic history, becoming the first freestyle wrestler from any country to medal in four Olympic Games.

      In the European championships at Budapest, Russia won in the 62-kg and 74-kg weight classes. Ukraine triumphed in the 52-kg class, and winners in the 90-kg and 130-kg competitions were from Georgia and Turkey, respectively.

      Poland was the big winner in the Greco-Roman competition at the Olympics, picking up three gold medals and five overall to lead all nations in both categories. Poland and Russia tied for the unofficial team scoring title with 50 points each. The Americans captured three silver medals. Russian superheavyweight Aleksandr Karelin (see BIOGRAPHIES (Karelin, Aleksandr )) became the first Greco-Roman wrestler to win three Olympic gold medals.

      Russia dominated the European Greco-Roman championships at Budapest with victories in the 62-kg, 90-kg, and 130-kg competitions. Ukraine won the 52-kg class, and Turkey was victorious at 74 kg.

      The 66th U.S. collegiate championships were held in Minneapolis, Minn., on March 21-23. Defending champion University of Iowa won its 16th title with 122.5 points over runner-up Iowa State University at 78.5 points. Ranked 17th in the Amateur Wrestling News pretournament poll, California State University at Bakersfield stunned the experts with a third-place showing, edging fourth-place Penn State 66-65. Oregon State's two-time champion, 80-kg (177-lb) Les Gutches, was named the meet's outstanding competitor. (JOHN HOKE)

Sumo.
      Yokozuna (grand champion) Takanohana dominated sumo wrestling in 1996, winning four of the six annual tournaments and finishing as runner-up in a fifth, but he was sidelined in the final tourney in November by an intestinal infection and a torn muscle. The Hatsu basho (New Year's tournament) in Tokyo was won by ozeki Takanonami in a play-off with his stablemate Takanohana after both finished with 14-1 records. Takanohana won the Haru basho (spring tournament) in Osaka with a 14-1 mark and then triumphed with a 14-1 performance in the Natsu basho (summer tournament). Then in the Nagoya basho in July, Takanohana emerged victorious again with a 13-2 record for his third straight victory. In September at the Aki basho (autumn tournament) in Tokyo, the 24-year-old yokozuna had a perfect 15-0 triumph—his fourth consecutive championship and his 14th overall yusho (title). With Takanohana sidelined in the year's final basho in November at Fukuoka, a play-off developed between five contenders with 11-4 records. Ozeki Musashimaru eventually won the yusho, his second championship. (ANDY ADAMS)

▪ 1996

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      The United States served as host for the 1995 freestyle wrestling world championships, held in Atlanta, Ga., on August 10-13. The host country took first place with 71 points and four gold medals. Iran placed second with 59 points and one gold. Russia was third with 58 points, followed by Turkey with 35 points and Cuba with 34 points. Valentin Jordanov of Bulgaria won his seventh world championship.

      The Greco-Roman world championships took place in Prague on October 12-15. Russia won with 75 points, and Germany followed with 39 points. Russian heavyweight Aleksandr Karelin won his seventh world championship.

      The freestyle World Cup took place in Chattanooga, Tenn., on April 7-8. The U.S. won its third straight dual meet title by defeating Russia in the final match 20-19 and gained a total of 10 team points. Russia scored 8 points, Turkey 6, Iran 4, and Canada 2.

      The 65th U.S. collegiate championships were held in Iowa City, Iowa, on March 16-18. Winning the team title was host school Iowa with 134 points and one champion. Winning his third collegiate title was North Carolina's T.J. Jaworsky at 60.8 kg (134 lb). (JOHANNA SCHNEIDER)

Sumo.
      Sumo's new star, Takanohana, gained promotion to the top rank of yokozuna at the end of November 1994 and dominated 1995 by winning four of the six annual 15-day tournaments. His older brother, ozeki (the second highest rank) Wakanohana, and yokozuna Akebono, a Hawaiian-American, won the other two titles. Takanohana captured the Hatsu basho (New Year's tournament) with a strong 13-2 record, defeating ozeki Musashimaru, an American-Samoan from Hawaii, in a play-off. In the Haru basho in March, Akebono had a near-perfect 14-1 mark to win his eighth yusho (tournament title). But Takanohana won three consecutive yusho, in May, July, and September. In May's Natsu basho, he won by 14-1; in the Nagoya basho in July, he took the title with a 13-2 record; and finally in the Aki basho in September, he breezed to his third straight yusho with a perfect 15-0 mark, increasing his total yusho to 11. In the year's sixth and final basho in November—a historic encounter involving two brothers competing for the first time ever—ozeki Wakanohana defeated Takanohana in a play-off after they finished the Kyushu basho with identical 12-3 records. (ANDY ADAMS)

▪ 1995

Introduction

Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
      Turkey served as host for and won the 1994 freestyle wrestling world championships, held in Istanbul on August 25-28. Though Turkey tied Russia with 53 points, it was awarded the team championship by having won two gold medals and one silver. Russia gained one gold, one silver, and three bronze medals. Rounding out the top five finishers were Cuba and Iran with 50 points and Germany with 38. Bulgaria's Valentin Jordanov won the 52-kg (114.5-lb) match, his sixth world championship.

      The Greco-Roman world championships took place in Tampere, Fin., on September 8-11. Russia won with 69 points and five gold medalists. Ukraine placed second with 50 points, followed by Poland with 44, Bulgaria with 35, and Germany with 30. Russian heavyweight Aleksandr Karelin claimed his fifth world title.

      The freestyle World Cup took place in Edmonton, Alta., on March 25-26. The U.S. won this dual meet competition by defeating Iran in the final match 25-12 for a total of 10 team points. Iran had 8 points, Russia 6, Turkey 4, and Canada 2. The U.S. team won 45 of its 50 individual bouts, and U.S. heavyweight Bruce Baumgartner won his seventh World Cup.

      The 64th U.S. collegiate championships were held in Chapel Hill, N.C., on March 17-19. With three individual champions Oklahoma State won the team title with 94.75 points. Winning an unprecedented fourth collegiate title was Oklahoma State's Pat Smith at 71.7 kg (158 lb).

      (JOHANNA SCHNEIDER)

Sumo.
      Sumo wrestling in 1994 was unexpectedly dominated by Takanohana, who won four of the six annual tournaments. He was promoted from ozeki to yokozuna (grand champion) after taking the yusho (tourney title) of the Kyushu basho (tournament) in November—the last tournament of the year—with his second consecutive perfect 15-0 record. The other two tournaments were won by two Hawaiians, Yokozuna Akebono in March and Ozeki Musashimaru in July.

      The victory in November was Takanohana's seventh yusho, tying him with Akebono for most tourney titles by active rikishi (sumo wrestlers). It came on the heels of his first perfect record (15-0) in September, when most fans expected him to be elevated to sumo's top rank. But the Yokozuna Promotion Council (composed of 11 prominent, nonsumo citizens) voted only 6-5 in his favour, a two-thirds majority being necessary for promotion. After the November tournament, however, the council members unanimously recommended Takanohana for promotion to yokozuna. Takanohana also won Rikishi of the Year, awarded for most annual wins, when he chalked up a total of 80 victories in six tournaments—just two short of the record held by former yokozuna Kitanoumi. (ANDY ADAMS)

▪ 1994

      The World Cup, held in Chattanooga, Tenn., on April 2-3, 1993, was a freestyle dual meet competition. The U.S. finished first with 8 points, followed by Russia with 6 points, Canada with 4, Cuba with 2, and Japan with 0.

      The U.S. won the freestyle world championships, held in Toronto on August 25-28, for the first time. The U.S. scored 75 points and gained three gold medals and two silvers. Bruce Baumgartner set a U.S. record by winning his 10th world title. Russia placed second with 52 points, winning one gold, two silver, and two bronze medals. Rounding out the top five were Turkey with 51 points, South Korea with 39, and Cuba with 38.

      The Greco-Roman world championships, in Stockholm on September 16-19, were won by Russia with 75 points and four gold medals, three silvers, and one bronze. Cuba finished second with 51 points and three golds and one bronze. Sweden had 43 points, Poland 34 points, and Germany 28 points.

      The 63rd U.S. collegiate championships took place in Ames, Iowa, on March 18-20. Iowa won its 14th team title, scoring 123.75 points to Penn State's 87.5 and Nebraska's 79.5. Iowa crowned two champions and had five other All-Americans. (JOHANNA SCHNEIDER)

* * *

sport
Introduction
 sport practiced in various styles by two competitors, involving forcing an opponent to touch the ground with some part of the body other than his feet; forcing him into a certain position, usually supine (on his back); or holding him in that position for a minimum length of time. Wrestling is conducted in various styles with contestants upright or on the ground (or mat).

      The three basic types of wrestling contest are the belt-and-jacket, catch-hold, and loose styles, all of which appear to have originated in antiquity. Belt-and-jacket styles of wrestling are those in which the clothing of the wrestlers provides the principal means of taking a grip on the opponent. In many cases this is no more than a special belt worn by both wrestlers, while in others a special belted jacket and special trousers are worn. Catch-hold styles require the contestants to take a prescribed hold before the contest begins; often this grip must be maintained throughout the struggle. Loose styles of wrestling, which are used in modern international competition, commence with the wrestlers separated and free to seize any grip that they choose except such as are explicitly forbidden (e.g., taking hold of an opponent's clothing or using a life-threatening grip, such as a stranglehold).

      Wrestling can also be classified in terms of what is required to win. These categories can be graded on an ascending scale of violence as follows: break-stance sports are those that require forcing the opponent to relinquish a certain posture or position; toppling requires that the standing opponent be forced to touch the ground with some part of his body other than his feet; touch-fall wrestling requires that the opponent be forced into a certain position, usually supine, for a brief instant; pin-fall wrestling requires that the opponent be held in such a position for a measurable length of time; and submission wrestling requires the opponent to vocally or visually signal defeat by his own choice.

Early history
      No sport is older or more widely distributed than wrestling, often in highly local styles that have persisted to the present day.

      Wrestling probably originated in hand-to-hand combat, and in particular as a sportive form of combat substituting the submission of a contestant for his death. Works of art from 3000 BC depict belt wrestling in Babylonia and Egypt, and the Sumerian Gilgamesh epic has a description of such wrestling. Loose wrestling in India dates to before 1500 BC. Chinese documents from 700 BC describe loose wrestling, as do Japanese records from the 1st century BC. The belt wrestling practiced locally in the 20th century by the Swiss, Icelanders, Japanese, and Cossacks differs little from that of the Egyptians in 2500 BC.

      Wrestling was probably the most popular sport of the ancient Greeks (ancient Greek civilization). Young men belonged to palaestras, or wrestling schools, as the focal point of their social life. Illustrations of wrestling on Greek vases and coins are common throughout all periods of ancient Greece, but all that can be told from it is that the style was loose wrestling and that wrestlers, as did all Greek athletes, competed naked. Wrestling was part of the Olympic Games from 776 BC. There were two wrestling championships in these games: a toppling event for the best two of three falls; and the pankration (Latin: pancratium), which combined wrestling and boxing and ended in the submission of one contestant. Upright wrestling was also a part of the pentathlon event in the Olympic Games, a bout being fought to a clear-cut fall of one of the wrestlers. The most famous ancient Greek wrestler was Milon of Croton (Milo of Croton), who won the wrestling championship of the Olympic Games six times. Wrestling was less popular among the Romans than it had been with the Greeks, and with the fall of the Roman Empire, references to wrestling disappeared in Europe until about AD 800.

      When the Islāmic rulers of Persia began hiring Turkic mercenaries about AD 800, the soldiers brought with them a style of loose wrestling called koresh, in which grips may be taken on the long, tight leather pants worn by the wrestlers and the bout ends with a touch fall of the loser briefly on his back. Gradually the Turks took over the entire Muslim dominion, and their wrestling style spread. Later Mongolian invasions in the 13th century introduced Mongolian wrestling, which received royal patronage, and wrestling became the national sport of modern Iran.

  sumo, a Japanese belt-wrestling style, was a popular spectator sport under imperial patronage (710–1185). Originally a submission spectacle, sumo became highly ritualized as a toppling match with victory coming also from the forcing of an opponent out of a 12-foot (4-metre) circle. By the 17th century sumo wrestling had became a professional sport in Japan. From the samurai martial art jujitsu, judo, the other prominent Japanese wrestling style, was derived in the 19th century and became an international sport in the second half of the 20th century.

      Wrestling occurred in several styles throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. The first recorded English match was held in London early in the 13th century. In England and Brittany a form of jacket-wrestling commonly called Cornwall and Devon (see Cornish wrestling) survives from at least the 4th or 5th century. Wrestling as a martial skill was taught to the knights of the Holy Roman Empire, and wrestling instruction books appeared in manuscript before the introduction of printing and thereafter in print. Mongolian loose wrestling, introduced to India after the Mongol conquest of 1526, survives in both India and Pakistan in the 20th century. As the modern era began, the English kings Henry VIII and Charles II and the French king Francis I were notable patrons of wrestling.

Modern wrestling
      From the 18th century on, a procession of wrestlers or strongmen appeared at fairs, in theatres, and in circuses, challenging all comers, beginning with the Englishman Thomas Topham of London in the 18th century and culminating with Eugene Sandow, the German-born international figure, who continued into the 20th century. Early in the 1800s wrestling became a part of the training regimen of the German turnverein gymnastic movement. In the United States, wrestling was popular as a frontier sport (Abraham Lincoln was a noted local wrestler), bouts usually going until one contestant submitted and with few holds barred.

      In the second half of the 19th century, two wrestling styles developed that ultimately dominated international wrestling: Greco-Roman wrestling and catch-as-catch-can (catch-as-catch-can wrestling), or freestyle wrestling. Greco-Roman wrestling, popularized first in France, was so called because it was thought to be the kind of wrestling done by the ancients. Greco-Roman wrestling involves holds made only above the waist and forbids wrapping the legs about an opponent when the wrestlers go down. Originally it was professional and popularized at international expositions held at Paris, but after its inclusion in the revived Olympic Games in 1896, Greco-Roman wrestling events were held at subsequent Olympic Games except in 1900 and 1904.

      The second style, catch-as-catch-can, was popularized mainly in Great Britain and the United States, first as a professional sport and after 1888, when it was recognized by the Amateur Athletic Association, as an amateur sport. It was introduced into the Olympic Games of 1904 and contested thereafter except in 1912. Catch-as-catch-can permits holds above the waist and leg grips and is won by a pin-fall.

      Freestyle (freestyle wrestling), or international freestyle, wrestling is a synthetic form of catch-as-catch-can that came to be used in the Olympic Games after it first appeared in Antwerp in about 1920. International freestyle is loose wrestling that uses the Greco-Roman touch-fall instead of the pin-fall common to Anglo-American wrestling practice.

      Notable professional wrestlers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries included the Russian George Hackenschmidt (Hackenschmidt, George), originally an amateur Greco-Roman wrestler who turned professional and wrestled catch-as-catch-can from 1900. He was world champion until 1908. The American wrestler Frank Gotch (Gotch, Frank) defeated Hackenschmidt in 1908 and again in 1911. After Gotch's retirement in 1913, professional wrestling, which was already fighting a losing battle in popularity with boxing, came to an end as a serious professional sport. Thereafter, though its audience grew, especially in the United States, through radio broadcasts and later even more so through telecasts, it became pure spectacle. The winners, divided deliberately into “heroes” and “villains,” were determined by promoters' financial requirements, not skill. Wrestling maneuvers became increasingly extravagant and artificial and lost most of their authenticity.

Amateur wrestling in the 20th century
      Though professional wrestling steadily declined in seriousness in the 20th century, significant improvements occurred in amateur wrestling during the same period. Originally there were no weight divisions in wrestling (the only weight in the first Olympic Games was heavyweight), but weight divisions developed in amateur wrestling. (For weight classes, see freestyle wrestling.) Earlier wrestling had been continuous and contested to one or two of three falls, sometimes with a time limit, sometimes without. Amateur wrestling came to be limited to three three-minute rounds effective in all international competition from 1967.

      Perhaps most importantly, a system was devised in amateur wrestling to award points, short of a fall, based on one wrestler's being in control of another, so that draw matches were made virtually impossible. This system arose because Greco-Roman wrestling, with its restriction to holds only above the waist and the forbidden use of legs for holds, tended to be dull once the wrestlers were on the mat. In the 1912 Olympic Games two Finnish Greco-Roman wrestlers had a six-hour bout to no decision. In response to this problem, several American colleges introduced the idea of recording the length of time each wrestler was in control of the contest during the course of a bout. (A wrestler is in control when he is applying maneuvers that will eventuate in a pin-fall if his opponent is unable to escape.) In 1928 the National Collegiate Athletic Association adopted the collegiate style of wrestling as a national sport, and this resulted in the formulation of a set of point awards to keep a running score during a bout. The rules and judging are similar to those used in international freestyle and Greco-Roman bouts and include awarding points based on reversing control, applying a pinning hold, and placing an opponent in danger of pinning. The running point score and the difference in control time are used to decide a victor in no-fall bouts. The collegiate style of wrestling became increasingly popular in the high schools and colleges of the United States after World War II.

      In the 20th century a third international style of wrestling, sambo, a kind of jacket wrestling, was created by Anatoly Kharlampiev of the Soviet Union and others after a study of various traditional wrestling styles. Sambo became popular in the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, and Japan and in 1964 was internationally recognized. In sambo a wrestler wins by throwing another cleanly on his back, or if the wrestlers go to the mat, the bout ends with the submission of one opponent. Sambo is much like judo and Mongolian wrestling, and bouts are of three three-minute rounds.

Organization
      There was never any attempt to organize professional wrestling in the Western world. Amateur organization was local and national from the early 19th century on, regional competition began late in the 19th century, and in 1911 the Fédération Internationale de Lutte Amateur (FILA; International Amateur Wrestling Federation) was formed (reconstituted in 1920). The FILA regulates international competition, including the Olympic Games, and has held world championships in Greco-Roman wrestling from 1950 and in freestyle from 1951. World championships and Olympic championships in judo, sponsored by the International Judo Federation (formed in 1951), have been held from 1956 and 1964, respectively.

Principles and practice
      Under FILA rules, contests of both international freestyle and Greco-Roman styles of touch-fall wrestling are similar, the object being in each case to throw or press the opponent on his back so that his shoulder blades touch the ground simultaneously. This need occur only for an instant, but a continuous roll across the shoulders is not considered a fall.

 The competitors meet on a large padded mat and commence by taking holds from a standing position. Their struggle is observed and controlled by officials, one of whom, the referee, stands on the mat with the wrestlers and signals the award of points for maneuvers leading toward a touch-fall. If no fall occurs before the expiration of the match, these points are used to determine a winner. The actual match is continuous except that it is divided into three periods with a brief rest in between. Ties or draws are common in wrestling.

      The competitors make use of techniques that are best learned by practice. While standing, they strive to bring each other to the mat with a series of maneuvers known as takedowns, involving lifting, throwing, twisting, tackling, and tripping. When attacked, a wrestler applies counterattacks to convert the situation to his own advantage. If the wrestlers go down on the mat without a touch-fall, they proceed to grapple, seizing each other with various grips and countergrips to work toward a fall. Great strength, though an asset, is not a prerequisite, since most of the maneuvers employ the principle of leverage; quickness and good physical condition are far more essential. The action in wrestling proceeds at a furious pace and involves all muscles of the body. The use of weight classes prevents the pairing of any two men with more than a few pounds difference between them.

      Although the Spartans trained young girls as wrestlers in ancient Greece and an occasional female wrestler, if only legendary, such as Zenobia, has appeared, wrestling by women has occurred in the 20th century only as a novelty spectacle.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:

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