Wrestling History

What is the history of Wrestling? What are its origins? Where did Wrestling come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Wrestling.

Country of Origin

Wrestling is believed to have been started by the ancient Sumerians, which is modern day Iraq. The first evidence of this was a sculpture found in Iraq that dates back to 2600 BCE. 

Evidence of wrestling has also been found in ancient Egypt. There are paintings of wrestlers that date back to 2500 BCE. Some tombs show ancient drawings that show people performing contemporary wrestling holds. 

The sport was also mentioned by the Greek poet Homer. Pindar, another famous poet, described how Zeus and Cronus, Gods in Greek mythology, wrestled for the universe. 

Wrestling winners began being documented since the 708 BCE Olympic games. A famous Greek wrestler was the philosopher Plato. His real name was Aristocles but was given the name Plato, which means broad shoulders, because of his success in wrestling. 


Although wrestling dates back to ancient Sumeria, the Greeks have been credited with inventing modern wrestling and they introduced the sport to the ancient Olympics in 708 BCE. They developed this form of combat to train their soldiers when fighting against the Romans.


The sport was officially established when professional wrestling started in France around 1830. Wrestlers would travel all throughout France and put on shows. In 1848, Jean Exbroyat, a French showman, developed the first modern wrestlers’ circus group and created the style of flat hand wrestling, which meant that competitors could not perform holds below the waist. Eventually, the first wrestling tournament was in New York City in 1888. 

In the 1896 Olympic Games, Greco-Roman wrestling was incorporated into the competition for the first time. Then in 1904, freestyle wrestling was introduced to the St. Louis Olympic Games. Eventually, in the 1908 Games of London, both styles were established parts of the competition.


Wrestling’s popularity quickly began to rise after the first competition in 1888. Although it was in the ancient Olympics, it was introduced to the modern Olympics in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Olympics are the pinnacle of athletic competition, and now that wrestling was in the public eye more people wanted to participate than ever before.

Wrestling, both freestyle and Greco-Roman, has become a sport that is celebrated all throughout the world. Here are some of the countries that wrestling is popular in. 

  • Russia
  • United States
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Turkey
  • Mongolia
  • Georgia
  • Bulgaria
  • South Korea
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Finland
  • Hungary
  • Poland

Key Facts and Timeline

  • Wrestling is considered the world's oldest sport and dates back to the ancient civilization of Sumeria. This is known because of a bronze statuette of wrestlers that was found in Iraq, and it dates back to 2600 BCE.
  • Egyptian hieroglyphs that date back to 2500 BCE also show people wrestling.
  • Eventually, champions of the sport began being recorded since the 708 BCE Olympic Games. The Greeks would later develop a style of wrestling that their soldiers would use in hand to hand combat against the Romans.
  • In Japan, the wrestling styles of sumo and judo were developed and are very popular to this day.
  • Wrestling was popular in the Middle Ages of Europe. So much so, that in 1520 Henry VIII of England challenged Francis I of France and was thrown by him.
  • In 1830, professional wrestling began in France when groups were formed to travel all around the country to show their talent. Jean Exbroyat, a French showman, created flat-hand wrestling, where wrestlers could not attack below the waist. This technique would eventually turn into Greco-Roman wrestling.
  • Greco-Roman wrestling was introduced to the Olympics in 1896, and freestyle was introduced in 1904.
  • The ancient pastime of wrestling has turned into one of the most popular combat sports in the world. Its deep rooted history and tradition is a huge factor in why people participate in the sport today, and why it continues to grow.
  • Wrestling is considered to be the worlds’ oldest sport
  • Wrestling dates back to 2600 BCE; during the ancient Sumerian civilization
  • In the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, 96 men and 96 women will compete in wrestling competitions.