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History of Olympic Wrestling

Worstelen in de Moderne Tijd
In het begin van de 20e eeuw was het worstelen de meest populaire sport bij het volk. Greco-Roman wrestling and modern freestyle wrestling were soon regulated in formal competitions, in part resulting from the rise of gymnasiums and athletic clubs.

Classical wrestling as Greco-Roman is often called owes nothing to the ancient Greeks or Romans, it is entirely French and was originally called, “les luttes à main plate” or “open handed wrestling.” Greco-Roman may be French in origin but Belgium was at the forefront of its modern development. The Olympic sport of Greco-Roman was born in Southern France in the early years of the 19th century, or more accurately, it was developed there from the traditional wrestling style still practised. What is certain is that the sport had reached its final and definitive form by 1848 but its gradual technical refinement in the gyms of Lyon and Bordeaux into the scientific modern Olympic style that we know today took many more years.
In the 1880s a New York policeman Bill Muldoon (1845/1933) claimed (in the USA) to be World Champion; he had learned Greco-Roman wrestling while serving as a mercenary in France during the Franco-Prussian war where he had sought further adventure after his experiences in the American Civil War. Muldoon was a very tough and honourable character but an early comparison with the modern US ‘World Series’ baseball tournaments is obvious because no one in Europe had heard of him. No tournaments were held in the USA in that period, only challenge matches on which large sums were gambled and anyone could claim to be a champion. In Europe contests were at first challenge matches held in circuses and fair grounds but regular matches began to be held in Paris in 1848 in “Les arenes de la rue Montesquieu.”
On continental Europe, prize money was offered in large sums to the winners of Greco-Roman tournaments, and freestyle wrestling spread rapidly in the United Kingdom and in the United States after the American Civil War. Wrestling professionals soon increased the popularity of Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, worldwide.[6][9]
Greco-Roman wrestling became an event at the first modern Olympic games, in Athens in 1896. Since 1908, the event has been in every Summer Olympics.
Freestyle wrestling became an olympic event, in 1904. Women's freestyle wrestling was added to the Summer Olympics in 2004.
Since 1921, the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) has regulated amateur wrestling as an athletic discipline, while professional wrestling has largely become infused with theatrics but still requires athletic ability.

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