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Wrestling History, an ancient combat sport, has intrigued audiences worldwide for centuries.

In this comprehensive exploration of Wrestling History.

Discover its origins, evolution, and notable moments shaping the sport today!

Time to grapple!

πŸ“Ή Video

Wrestling History Summary

  • ⏳ Origins and Evolution: Wrestling traces back to ancient civilizations, with depictions found in cave drawings, Egyptian tombs, and Greek epics. Its various styles emerged across cultures, eventually transforming into the modern Greco-Roman, freestyle, and professional wrestling forms known today.
  • πŸš€ Rise to Prominence: The inclusion of wrestling in the ancient Olympics and its revival in the modern Olympic Games propelled its prominence. Professional wrestling’s evolution as a form of entertainment, with organizations like WWE, further raised its popularity and cultural relevance.
  • πŸ₯‡ Noteworthy Growth and Adaptation: Over the years, wrestling expanded globally, with regional styles blending into international competitions. Technological advancements and adaptability to changing times have resulted in new formats, like mixed martial arts, and an enduring influence on the sports world.

Wrestling History Timeline

3000 BCE – 1000 BCE

The origin of wrestling dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, where the Epic of Gilgamesh and cave paintings in Iran depict scenes of wrestling. Around 2300 BCE, Egyptian tombs had wall paintings illustrating the sport, suggesting its popularity in the ancient world.

In ancient Greece, wrestling was a prominent component of the original Olympic Games in 8th century BCE. Wrestlers competed in the sport called PΓ‘le, a form of grappling practiced by the Greeks, which laid the groundwork for classical wrestling.

1440s – 1600s

In 15th century France, new techniques emerged, inspiring the foundation of Greco-Roman wrestling. During the same period, Sumo wrestling became highly popular in Japan. By the 17th century, wrestling had evolved into distinct styles in Europe, such as Lancashire wrestling in England and Schwingen in Switzerland.

In the Americas, Native American tribes developed their version of wrestling, characterized by its unique techniques and rules. The various styles defined this period, as regional differences across cultures shaped wrestling’s progress.


The 19th century saw the spread of wrestling throughout the world, with increased regional influence. “Collar and elbow” wrestling became popular in Ireland and the United States, while catch-as-catch-can style flourished in Britain and North America. Professional wrestling began to take shape as well, with competitors traveling and performing for entertainment purposes.

The first recorded wrestling championships occurred during this period, including the European Greco-Roman Championship in 1898 and the International Freestyle Wrestling Championship in 1904, highlighting the sport’s growing prominence.

1904 – 1920s

Wrestling made its modern Olympic debut at the 1904 St. Louis Games featuring freestyle wrestling. Greco-Roman wrestling was reintroduced in the 1908 Olympics in London, solidifying both styles’ presence in international competition.

In the 1920s, professional wrestling started to boom, blending athleticism with theatrics. Promoters like Ed “Strangler” Lewis and Jack Curley capitalized on this development, building narratives around their athletes and rivalries, turning wrestling into a lucrative spectator sport.

1950s – 1960s

Television played a significant role in professional wrestling’s rise during the 1950s and 1960s. Stars like Gorgeous George and Lou Thesz captivated audiences with their unique personas and rivalries, creating must-watch television events. Additionally, regional wrestling promotions gained massive followings, further cementing the sport’s place in popular culture.

Women’s wrestling also gained momentum during this time, with competitors like The Fabulous Moolah revolutionizing the sport and forging a new direction for female wrestlers.


In the 1970s, professional wrestling witnessed a surge in popularity due to larger-than-life personalities like Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair. The National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and American Wrestling Association (AWA) became prominent organizations during this time, contributing to the sport’s burgeoning appeal.

Moreover, international wrestling styles, such as Lucha Libre from Mexico and Puroresu from Japan, began gaining recognition in the western world, showcasing alternative methods and techniques to American audiences.

1980s – 1990s

The 1980s marked a golden era for professional wrestling, with the rise of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) and its iconic wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and AndrΓ© the Giant. WrestleMania, launched in 1985, demonstrated the sport’s entertainment value and transformed it into a global phenomenon.

This period also saw the emergence of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW), further showcasing the sport’s diversity and cultural impact. The intense competition between companies led to innovations in storytelling and character development, making professional wrestling a staple in popular culture.

2000s – present

The new millennium saw WWE dominating professional wrestling while incorporating its rivals, WCW and ECW. The brand expanded globally, launching a developmental program called NXT and developing stars such as John Cena, Randy Orton, and Roman Reigns. Innovations in digital platforms transformed how fans consumed wrestling content, with the establishment of the WWE Network.

Today, the wrestling world includes various promotions like New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), All Elite Wrestling (AEW), and Ring of Honor (ROH), attracting new generations of fans and wrestlers. With a rich history and ever-evolving styles, wrestling continues to captivate audiences globally.

Immerse yourself further in the culture and excitement of wrestling through the best wrestling movies, shows, and documentaries.



Who invented Wrestling?

Wrestling doesn’t have a singular inventor as it dates back to prehistoric cave drawings and ancient civilizations, where it was practiced as a form of combat and sport.

How did Wrestling become so popular?

Wrestling became popular due to televised events and iconic wrestlers. Its incorporation in international competitions such as Olympic games also boosted its recognition and popularity.

Where did Wrestling originate?

Wrestling originated in ancient civilizations around the world; however, it’s predominantly traced back to Ancient Greece where it was a significant part of the Ancient Olympic Games.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning β€˜real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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