Wrestling has been popular throughout recorded history. Origins of the sport can be traced back 15,000 years to cave drawings in France. Early Egyptian and Babylonian reliefs depict wrestlers using most of the holds known to the present-day sport. In ancient Greece, wrestling occupied a prominent place in legend and literature; wrestling competition, brutal in many aspects, was the supreme contest of the Olympic Games. The ancient Romans borrowed heavily from Greek wrestling, but eliminated much of its brutality. During the Middle Ages wrestling remained popular and enjoyed the patronage of many royal houses, including those of France, Japan, and England.
The sport of wrestling has come a long way since it was practiced by our earliest ancestors, becoming a more formal and organized representation of the world’s oldest form of competition. These days, traditional and modern forms of wrestling are practiced on every continent and in almost every country. The 2004 Olympics reinforced wrestling’s popularity, yielding 344 competitors in both the freestyle and Greco-Roman divisions – a record number of competitors for the Olympic wrestling tournament.