Greco-Roman wrestling is one of the most practiced styles of wrestling in the world. Along with freestyle wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling is the only other style of wrestling that is an Olympic sport.
Here’s everything you need to know about Greco-Roman wrestling. We will see how it was developed and review the rules of the sport.
We have also listed some of the most notable MMA fighters who were also accomplished Greco-Roman wrestlers.
The history of Greco-Roman wrestling
While some might believe that Greco-Roman wrestling is an ancient form of name wrestling, it is not. This style of wrestling actually developed in France in the late 1800s.
The wrestler credited with inventing the Greco-Roman wrestler was Jean Exbrayat. A French soldier who was one of the most accomplished wrestlers in the French army.
After serving in the French army, Exbrayat wrestled at French carnivals and fairs across the country. Display his excellent wrestling skills and face anyone who wants to test his skills.
As Exbrayat did this, he began to develop his own style of wrestling. One he would call “Flat Hand Wrestling” or “French Wrestling”.
Exbrayat also established rules for his style to differentiate it from other folk wrestling styles. You could only perform takedowns above your opponent’s waist and submissions were not allowed.
Since Exbrayat was a traveler, he was able to share his wrestling style with many people. Many wrestlers across Europe started practicing this style of wrestling and it became very popular.
A Greek wrestler named Basilo Bartoletti is said to have coined the term Greco-Roman wrestling. Claiming that this style of wrestling was similar to ancient Greek wrestling, when in reality they were nothing alike.
It didn’t matter, because the name stuck and everyone started referring to this style as Greco-Roman style wrestling.
Greco-Roman wrestling becomes an Olympic sport
Thanks to the popularity of Greco-Roman style wrestling across Europe, this led to it becoming an Olympic event. Greco-Roman wrestling was added to the very first modern edition of the Olympic Games in 1896.
Then it was added to Summer Olympics in 1904 and has been part of the Olympics till date. The only other form of wrestling that is an Olympic sport along with Greco-Roman wrestling is freestyle wrestling.
The rules of Greco-Roman wrestling
The rules of Greco-Roman wrestling are very rigid and different from those of freestyle and folk wrestling. Here are the rules for a Greco-Roman style wrestling match taken straight from the Rules Of Sport website.
- Only indents above the waist are allowed
- no typing
- It is forbidden to stumble or bump your legs.
The format of a Greco-Roman wrestling match
- A Greco-Roman wrestling match consists of three periods of two minutes each.
- They break down into a 60-second neutral position (on the feet) and two 30-second riding positions
- The wrestler who scores the most points within 60 seconds ends up in the dominant driving position.
- If no wrestler scores in neutral position, a coin will be flipped to decide the positions.
Ways to Win a Greco-Roman Wrestling Match
There are five ways to win a Greco-Roman wrestling match. These victory methods include:
- Technical drop/pin
- 8 point lead
- Judge’s decision
- Default (injury or forfeit)
Greco-Roman wrestling point system
- Takedowns: You can get between 2 and 5 points for a takedown. Five points being a perfect throw to a near fall position and the rest being based on style and technique.
- Exposure Points: This is the amount of time a wrestler keeps their opponent’s back on the mat. Three points for perfect execution and two points for normal execution.
- Knockdown: All knockdowns are one point.
- Out of Bounds: Going out of bounds for any reason earns the opponent one point.
- Penalty Points: Between 1 and 2 points can be awarded to a wrestler if their opponent commits illegal moves or an unforced timeout.)
Weight classes in Greco-Roman wrestling
Men’s weight categories:
- 55 kg (121 lbs)
- 60 kg (132 lbs)
- 63 kg (139 lbs)
- 67 kg (148 lbs)
- 72 kg (159 lbs)
- 77 kg (170 lbs)
- 82 kg (181 lb)
- 87 kg (192 lbs)
- 97 kg (214 lbs)
- 130 kg (286.5 lbs)
Female weight categories:
- 50 kg (110 lbs)
- 53 kg (117 lbs)
- 55 kg (121 lbs)
- 57 kg (126 lbs)
- 59 kg (130 lbs)
- 62 kg (137 lbs)
- 65 kg (143. lb)
- 68 kg (150 lbs)
- 72 kg (159 lbs)
- 76 kg (168 lbs)
Where is Greco-Roman wrestling mainly practiced?
Greco-Roman wrestling is very popular throughout Europe, Russia and the United States. It has also become quite popular in Middle Eastern countries like Iran and Azerbaijan.
What are the biggest Greco-Roman wrestling events?
The biggest Greco-Roman wrestling events are the World Championship and the Summer Olympics event. Each year, the Greco-Roman World Championship is held in a different country, and the Olympics are held every four years. (Also in a different country each time.)
Does Greco-Roman wrestling translate well to MMA?
Greco-Roman style wrestling has translated very well into the sport of MMA. Upper body clinching techniques under the hooks and hooks of Greco-Roman style wrestling have proven effective in MMA.
Notable Greco-Roman wrestlers in MMA
There have been many MMA fighters of Greco-Roman descent who have succeeded in the sport. Even some who have won world championships and become the UFC farmer’s room.
- Dan Henderson: Dan Henderson was a two-time Greco-Roman World Cup silver medalist before fighting full-time in MMA. He won titles in every major MMA promotion before being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
- Randy Couture: Randy Couture was one of the best Greco-Roman wrestlers in the world before entering MMA. He would use this ability to win 6 UFC titles and become a Hall of Famer.
- Dan Severn: Dan Severn was the first wrestler to win a UFC title. Before becoming an MMA champion, Severn won a Greco-Roman World Cup
- Matt Lindland: Matt Lindland was an accomplished Greco-Roman wrestler in addition to being a seasoned UFC veteran. He was one of the first Olympic medalists to compete in MMA.
- Chael Sonnen: The Bad Guy was a two-time Pac-10 Championship silver medalist before moving into MMA.
- Jon Jones: Jon Jones excelled in Greco-Roman and folk wrestling before becoming one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.
- Mark Madsen: An Olympic silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling who is currently in the UFC and undefeated as a professional fighter.