As one of the most famous ancient sports, Wrestling has been a part of the Olympic summer competitions since 1896.
The summer Olympics 2020(2021) is almost over. Wrestling was a part of this competition again this year, though back in 2016 it was going to be dropped out of the Summer Olympic program.
But what is wrestling and where does it come from originally? Wrestling is a combat sport that involves grappling-type techniques including clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins, and more.
There are different types of wrestling such as folkstyle, freestyle, Greco-Roman, catch, submission, judo, sambo, and others. It also has to be mentioned that freestyle and Greco-Roman are the two types of sports being played in the Summer Olympics.
While there is a wide range of divisions to wrestling with a variety of rules, it would be interesting to know that the wrestling techniques have been incorporated into other martial arts in addition to the military hand-to-hand combat systems.
Before going through Wrestling at the 2021 Summer Olympics, we have to take a look at the history of wrestling and also the history of the sport in the Olympic competitions since 1896.
The history of wrestling goes back 15000 years through cave drawings. As one of the oldest forms of combat, the sport remained popular during the Middle Ages.
We all know that today America is one of the strongest in the field of wrestling. But how was the sport brought to the USA? In fact, the early British immigrants brought wrestling tradition to the country with them, while interestingly they found wrestling to be popular among Native Americans.
Wrestling grew to be more popular among the American people every day. Eventually, the first organized national wrestling tournament took place in New York City in 1888. The first official wrestling competition in the modern Olympic Games took place in the 1904 games in St. Louis, Missouri. This is while previous to that demonstrations were performed at the Athens Olympics in1896.
The next step was forming an international governing body for the sport, which was established in 1912 in Antwerp, Belgium, being named the United World Wrestling (UWW) as the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA).
1912 was also the year for the first 1st NCAA Wrestling Championships being held in Ames, Iowa.
Now that we have all this basic information about wrestling, it’s time to take a look at wrestling's different divisions at the 2021 Olympic Games.
Freestyle wrestling is an international discipline and an Olympic sport, for both men and women. In this division, the wrestlers are allowed to use their legs in offense and defense. To win this division, the wrestler has to throw and pin his opponent on the mat.
Greco-Roman is another wrestling division in the Olympic sport. In this division, it is forbidden to hold the opponent below the belt. In this division also the wrestler has to bring his opponent to the mat.
We now know enough about the history of wrestling in the world. Don’t we? So now let’s take a look at this sport’s history through the summer Olympic Games. Ready? Stay tuned then.
Interestingly the history of Wrestling in the Summer Olympics goes back to ancient times. As a matter of fact, Wrestling had been contested at the Summer Olympic Games since it was first introduced in the ancient Olympic Games in 708 BC. Just WOW!!
However, it took long for the sport to change to what we know today. In fact, when back in 1896 the modern Olympic Games resumed in Athens, wrestling in the Greco-Roman division became a focus of the Games. However, as we have previously mentioned, in the 1900 Summer Olympics wrestling was cut out of the program. The next division to take part in the 1904 Olympics competition was the Freestyle and then back in 2004, the women's competition was introduced.
Unfortunately for the wrestling lovers, the Olympics version was threatened, as in February 2013, the IOC voted to drop wrestling from the Summer Olympic program. However, with a bit of luck and the change of the United World Wrestling leadership in addition to revisions to the program for 2016, wrestling was successfully saved to be a part of the 2020 and 2024 summer Olympics competition.
OK, stay tuned for the next part as we want to go through the men and women wrestling at the 2020(2021) summer Olympics.
Ok. Time to talk about wrestling at this year’s summer Olympics.
Being on the 4th day of the competition, we now know that this year again, wrestling is being featured in two disciplines: freestyle and Greco-Roman. Each division is also be divided into different weight categories. Men compete in both disciplines whereas women are only competing in the freestyle. It also has to be known that 18 gold medals will be awarded.
As we all know the 2020 summer Olympics was postponed in March 2020 due to the pandemic of COVID-19. You should also know that 96 men in each division and 96 women are competing in the wrestling competition this year.
In case you’d like to know which wrestling stars will take part in this year’s competition, we must first let you know that the Russian Federation has won the most overall medals, followed by top nations like the United States, Japan, Georgia, and Turkey.
In freestyle wrestling, Russia, Iran, and the United States are on top. Superstar Abdulrashid “The Russian Tank” Sadulaev will be back at the Tokyo 2020 aiming to win his first title at 97kg. This is while his fiercest rival will be defending 97kg Olympic champion Kyle Snyder (USA).
It is interesting to know that the duo has wrestled twice in three years, splitting outcomes.
Iran’s Hassan Yazdanicharati will also take part in Tokyo Olympics as a 2016 Olympic champion, winning at 74kg. However, now he will compete in 86kg against a field of top competitors.
Cuba has also a chance of winning titles in the Greco-Roman division as it has the privilege of some wrestling stars, including the legendary three-time Olympic champion Mijaín López at 130kg, and Olympic champion Ismael Borrero at 60kg.
In the case of women’s wrestling also you must know that Japan is the most dominant women’s wrestling nation in the world, having won 11 of a possible 18 gold medals in four Olympic Games.
The country’s Hall of Fame wrestler, Icho Kaori, who in fact will not take part in this year’s competition, has won a record-setting fourth Olympic gold at Rio 2016.
Icho Kaori is not the only Japanese wrestling star as the new generation of the Japanese women's wrestling team will be led by defending Olympic champions Risako Kawai and Sara Dosho.
All times are written in the venue’s local time. It also has to be mentioned that GR stands for Greco-Roman and FS for freestyle, while WW is short for Women’s Wrestling.
Day 1 (Sunday, August 1)
11:00-12:20 – 1/8 action (GR: 60kg, 130kg | WW: 76kg)
12:20-13:00 – Quarterfinals (GR: 60kg, 130kg | WW: 76kg)
18:15-19:15 – Semifinals (GR: 60kg, 130kg | WW: 76kg)
Day 2 (Monday, August 2)
11:00-11:30 – Repechage (GR: 60kg, 130kg | WW: 76kg)
11:30-12:50 – 1/8 action (GR: 77kg, 97kg | WW: 68kg)
12:50-13:30 – Quarterfinals (GR: 77kg, 97kg | WW: 68kg)
18:15-19:15 – Semifinals (GR: 77kg, 97kg | WW: 68kg)
19:30-22:00 – Gold and Bronze Medal Finals (GR: 60kg, 130kg | WW: 76kg)
Day 3 (Tuesday, August 3)
11:00-11:30 – Repechage (GR: 77kg, 97kg | WW: 68kg)
11:30-12:50 – 1/8 action (GR: 67kg, 87kg | WW: 62kg)
12:50-13:30 – Quarterfinals (GR: 67kg, 87kg | WW: 62kg)
18:15-19:15 – Semifinals (GR: 67kg, 87kg | WW: 62kg)
19:30-22:00 – Gold and Bronze Medal Finals (GR: 77kg, 97kg | WW: 68kg)
Day 4 (Wednesday, August 4)
11:00-11:30 – Repechage (GR: 67kg, 87kg | WW: 62kg)
11:30-12:50 – 1/8 action (FS: 57kg, 86kg | WW: 57kg)
12:50-13:30 – Quarterfinals (FS: 57kg, 86kg | WW: 57kg)
18:15-19:15 – Semifinals (FS: 57kg, 86kg | WW: 57kg)
19:30-22:00 – Gold and Bronze Medal Finals (GR: 67kg, 87kg | WW: 62kg)
Day 5 (Thursday, August 5)
11:00-11:30 – Repechage (FS: 57kg, 86kg | WW: 57kg)
11:30-12:50 – 1/8 action (FS: 74kg, 125kg | WW: 53kg)
12:50-13:30 – Quarterfinals (FS: 74kg, 125kg | WW: 53kg)
18:15-19:15 – Semifinals (FS: 74kg, 125kg | WW: 53kg)
19:30-22:00 – Gold and Bronze Medal Finals (FS: 57kg, 86kg | WW: 57kg)
Day 6 (Friday, August 6)
11:00-11:30 – Repechage (FS: 74kg, 125kg | WW: 53kg)
11:30-12:50 – 1/8 action (FS: 65kg, 97kg | WW: 50kg)
12:50-13:30 – Quarterfinals (FS: 65kg, 97kg | WW: 50kg)
18:15-19:15 – Semifinals (FS: 65kg, 97kg | WW: 50kg)
19:30-22:00 – Gold and Bronze Medal Finals (FS: 74kg, 125kg | WW: 53kg)
Day 7 (Saturday, August 7)
18:45-19:05 – Repechage (FS: 65kg, 97kg | WW: 50kg)
19:30-22:00 – Gold and Bronze Medal Finals (FS: 65kg, 97kg | WW: 50kg)
Now that we know everything about wrestling at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, it’s time to take a look at the history of the Olympic medalists among both men and women.
So far many competitors have walked on the matt to defeat their rivals… But have been the winners and who has win medals? Let’s check out!
Women’s Freestyle in 76kg
A. Rotter-Focken from Germany
A. Gray from the United States
Y. Adar from Turkey and Q. Zhou from China
Women’s Freestyle in 68kg
T. Mensah-Stock from the United States
B. Oborududu from Nigeria
A. Cherkasova from Ukraine and M. Zhumanazarova from Kyrgyzstan
Women’s Freestyle in 62kg
Y. Kawai from Japan
A. Tynybekova from Kyrgyzstan
I. Koliadenko from Ukraine and T. Yusein from Bulgaria
Women’s Freestyle in 53kg
M. Mukaida from Japan
Q.Y. Pang from China
B. Bat-Ochir from Mongolia and V. Kaladzinskaya from Belarus
Women’s Freestyle in 57kg
R. Kawai from Japan
I. Kurachkina from Belarus
E. Nikolova from Bulgaria and H. Maroulis from United States
Women’s Freestyle in 50kg
Y. Susaki from Japan
Y.N. Sun from China
M. Stadnik from Azerbaijan and S.A. Hildebrandt from the United States
Men’s Greco-Roman in 130kg
M. López from Cuba
I. Kajaia from Georgia
R. Kayaalp from Turkey and S. Semenov from ROC
Men’s Greco-Roman in 60kg
L. Orta from Cuba
K. Fumita from Japan
S. Emelin from ROC and S. Walihan from China
Men’s Greco-Roman in 77kg
T. Lőrincz from Hungary
A. Makhmudov from Kyrgyzstan
R. Huseynov from Azerbaijan and S. Yabiku from Japan
Men’s Greco-Roman in 97kg
M. Evloev from ROC
A. Aleksanyan from Armenia
M. Saravi from Iran and T. Michalik from Poland
Men’s Greco-Roman in 67kg
M. Geraei from Iran
P. Nasibov from Ukraine
F. Staebler from Germany and M. El-Sayed from Egypt
Men’s Greco-Roman in 87kg
Z. Beleniuk from Ukraine
V. Lőrincz from Hungary
D. Kudla from Germany and Z. Datunashvili from Serbia
Men’s Freestyle in 125kg
G. Petriashvili from Georgia
A. Zare from Iran and T. Akgül from Turkey
from the United States
Men’s Freestyle in 57kg
K. Ravi from India
N. Sanayev from Kazakhstan and T. Gilman from the United States
Men’s Freestyle in 74kg
M. Kadzimahamedau from Belarus
B. Abdurakhmonov from Uzbekistan and K. Dake from the United States
Men’s Freestyle in 86kg
D. Taylor from the United States
H. Yazdani from Iran
A. Naifonov from ROC and M. Amine from San Marino
Men’s Freestyle in 65kg
T. Otoguro from Japan
H. Aliyev from Azerbaijan
B. Punia from India and G. Rashidov from ROC
Men’s Freestyle in 97kg
A. Sadulaev from ROC
K. Snyder from the United States
ADJ. Conyedo Ruano from Italy and R. Salas from Cuba
Let’s see who these champions are and what are their stories.
Interestingly there was no weight limit in that year’s summer Olympics and so the winner was 5-foot-4 German Carl Schuhmann, a triple gold medalist in gymnastics.
St. Louis, 1904
The first modern Olympics were held in 1904 in the U.S. The interesting fact about that year’s Olympics was that it featured seven freestyle wrestling divisions, with no international participants. That is how the Americans won all the awards including seven gold medals and in total 21 awards.
The next story goes back to 1908. That year one of the Canadian wrestlers, Aubert Cote had to mortgage his farm in Quebec to cover his Olympic expenses.
During the competition, he won bronze in freestyle's 54kg division, and the Canadian Olympic Committee decided to reimburse him.
Do you think time limits have always been a part of the Olympic Games? Of course not! In fact, in a semifinal match in Greco-Roman's 75kg division, Martin Klein representing Russia, and Alfred Asikainen representing Finland competed under the sun for a long 11 hours and 40 minutes!!!! Klein won the match but he was so desperately tired that couldn’t win the final and took the silver medal. After this match and its consequences time limits were imposed for the first time on Olympic wrestling matches in 1924.
It might be interesting for you to know that there have been wrestlers in history to win both wrestling disciplines at the same Games.
Four years after Sweden's Ivar Johansson became the first wrestler to win Olympic gold in both wrestling disciplines at the same Games, it was Estonia's Kritjan Palusalu’s turn to also set the record to his name. The 27-year-old won his titles in the freestyle and Greco-Roman unlimited weight classes. The two are the only ones to achieve the single-Games double.
Here is the story of a temporarily paralyzed policeman who won a Gold Medal at the Olympics!
Miklos Szilvasi was a Hungarian policeman who was accidentally shot in the leg in 1946. That was why he was temporarily paralyzed. In the 1948 London Games, he took part in the wrestling competitions in Greco-Roman's 73kg final, but he lost to Sweden's Gosta Andersson. However, he was not the one to be defeated. So four years later in Helsinki, the rivals again met in the Gold Medal Match, with Szilvasi winning by a 2-1 decision.
Have you ever heard of the Iranian wrestler, Takhti? As one of the most famous wrestling champions in the world, Takhti was born in 1930 into a poor family in Tehran and left home at an early age to become an oil worker. An eventual four-time Olympian, Takhti captured his lone gold medal at the 1956 Games. He was widely beloved in his homeland. The champion mysteriously died in January 1968 and though it was announced to be a suicide, many believed that he was murdered by the government due to his anti-government stance.
Time to talk about one of this year’s hosts champions. Commonly known as "Yo-Jo", Yojiro Uetake was a national champion high school wrestler in Japan before leaving his country to attend a college at Oklahoma State University.
He returned to Japan for the 1964 Games and won gold in freestyle's 57kg division. He achieved his second title at the 1968 Games in Mexico City and became the first Japanese wrestler ever to win two Olympic gold medals.
Our next famous wrestling champion to talk about is Dan Gable, who was the most prominent figure in U.S. wrestling. He was widely famous for his dedication to wrestling and it would be interesting to know that in the three years leading up to the Munich Games, Gable trained seven hours a day, every day, which eventually gained him an Olympic gold in freestyle's 68kg division that highlighted a 10-year run in which he won 299 matches and lost only six. He later coached U.S. teams at the 1984 and 2000 Olympics.
Our next interesting story about the wrestling competition in the Olympics is about two twin brothers who represented the hammer and sickle and have won freestyle wrestling's two lightest divisions at the Moscow Games. First, one of the two, Anatoly Beloglazov, defeated his final four opponents in under five minutes and earned gold at 52kg, and then one day later, his twin brother, Sergei, became the winner at 57kg. Sergei has also claimed a second Olympic gold in Seoul.
Los Angeles, 1984
Interestingly till 1984, the U.S. had never won an Olympic medal in Greco-Roman wrestling. In fact, its super heavy representor, Jeff Blatnick had taken part in the competition, but he couldn’t achieve that much success. However, later he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and had to remove his spleen and appendix in August 1982, while he also had to go under radiation two months later.
Despite the medical team's serious concerns, Blatnick quickly resumed training and ultimately made the U.S. team for Los Angeles.
There, he scored twice in the last 64 seconds of the Gold final Match to defeat Sweden's, Tomas Johansson. Being in seventh heaven, after the victory, he fell to his knees and then dedicated the victory to his brother, Dave, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1977.
Have you ever heard the story of the rabbit beaten by a turtle? Haha!! Kidding…This one is a completely different story! Back in 2000, Aleksandr Karelin from Russia, entered Sydney universally as the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of all time, with a chance to become wrestling's first four-time Olympic champion, as he was undefeated in his 13-year international career.
There he faced American Rulon Gardner in the 130kg final match and what do you think the result was? Well, in fact, with the help of technique and tactics Gardner took a 1-0 lead at the start of the second period and won the match, leaving many stunned! After winning bronze in Athens, Gardner left his shoes on the mat to announce his retirement from wrestling.
Time for a fact about women’s wrestling! Huh? Did you know that women's freestyle wrestling made its Olympic debut with competition in four weight classes in 2004? Japan, which entered the Games with four 2003 world champions, won the gold medal with Kaori Icho in the 63kg division, while Saori Yashida won gold in the 55kg division. The other 2 to win medals were Chiharu Icho who won silver in the 48kg and Kyoko Hamaguchi, daughter of Heigo, who won bronze in the 72kg division.
And as our last item, we have the 2016 Rio Olympics where once again Japan shone in the women's competition, with Eri Tosaka, Kaori Icho, Risako Kawai, and Sara Dosho winning the gold for their respective divisions. On the other hand, also, the Russian men were so successful during the matches, with Soslan Ramonov, Abdulrashid Sadulaev, Roman Vlasov, and Davit Chakvetadze taking home gold medals while Aniuar Geduev and Sergey Semenov took home silver and bronze, respectively.
That was all about Wrestling at Olympics 2020 in men & women's divisions. Which country do you think will be the most successful? Let us know in the comment section.
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