Wrestling is a combat-focused sport involving various grappling and hold techniques. The sport can be theatrical for entertainment purposes (called professional wrestling) or competitive. The focus of wrestling is a physical bout to gain and maintain a superior position over your opponent. In competitive wrestling, points are earned based on takedowns and position. In professional wrestling, bouts are won for pinning your opponent or forcing them to submit to a hold.
Wrestling is one of the oldest recorded forms of combat and competition. The sport is dated at least 15,000 years ago with cave drawings and Babylonian and Egyptian depictions of the sport. Reliefs from the ancient world depict wrestling utilizing holds and grapples still used today. Wrestling is also referenced in the Old Testament, The Iliad and The Odyssey, and in the Vedic Texts. In Greece, the sport was a focal point of society, holding a high place at the ancient Olympic Games.
Early British settlers brought wrestling to North America. Wrestling became a prominent pastime and the first organized national wrestling tournament took place in 1888 in New York City. The international governing body for wrestling, called United World Wrestling (UWW), was established in 1912 in Antwerp, Belgium. The sport is played at the Olympic Games, as well as in amateur leagues, college-sponsored, and professional leagues, including entertainment based competition.
Wrestling is made up of disciplines, or practices, divided into two categories: International wrestling disciplines and folk wrestling disciplines. International wrestling disciplines include Greco-Roman (the style of wrestling in the Olympic Games), Freestyle, Amateur Pankration, and beach wrestling. Folk wrestling disciplines are any form of wrestling specific to a culture or geographic area, such as oil wrestling, with rules not mandated by an official governing body.
Professional wrestling is also very popular. Professional wrestling is a form of wrestling for entertainment purposes. The match results are often pre-planned and the wrestlers involved act out personas, or characters. Characters that are 'good guys' are called 'faces' while the 'bad guys' are called 'heels'. Much of the actual wrestling match is improvised with only certain aspects, such as the result or specific spots (moments in the match), being planned. The most popular professional wrestling entertainment companies include World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and Impact! Wrestling (formerly TNA Impact).
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is also a form of wrestling becoming very popular due to the effectiveness of the sport. It's much more brutal than regular wrestling, and similar to boxing and pankration wrestling. This rise in popularity is mostly due to the increased exposure via major personalities including Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, and Brock Lesnar. The most popular MMA league is Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Interest in wrestling has skyrocketed in the past five years, due to the popularity on multiple facets, including the Olympic Games and the rise in popularity of WWE and UFC.