The first references to wrestling competitions are recorded in sculptures and the poem, the Epic of Gilgamesh. They were refereed and accompanied by music.

3000 BC

Tombs in Ancient Egypt featuring drawings depicting wrestlers are discovered. Copies of early rules and codes are also found.

2000 BC

Wrestling is seen as an important part of training for young men in Ancient Greece with athletes wrestling naked and covered in oil. Bouts were similar to freestyle wrestling and the winner was the first to throw or bring their opponent down on either their back, hips, chest, knees or elbows.

800 BC

Wrestling is the final and most important discipline of the pentathlon during the Ancient Olympic Games following discus, the javelin, the long jump and the foot race events. The winner becomes the only crowned athlete of the Games.

From 708 BC

Wrestling is included as part of the Isthmic, Nemean and Pythic Games held in honour of Greek gods.

580 BC

Milon of Croton, a student of the philosopher Pythagoras, earns six Olympic titles and became one of the most famous wrestlers.

540 to 516 BC

While wrestling became a favourite sport of young aristocrats, soldiers and shepherds, Emperor Theodosius I bans pagan festivals, including the Olympic Games.

393 BC

The social elite practice wrestling in castles and palaces during the Middle Ages.

1154 to 1485

Various painters and writers celebrate wrestling and encouraged people to practice the sport during The Renaissance and just 12-years after the first printed book came out, German artist Albrecht Dürer publishs the first colour wrestling manual.


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is created by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, with wrestling included as one of 10 sports to feature in the first modern Olympics two years later.


Greece’s capital city Athens hosts the first Modern Olympics and five athletes from four nations competin in wrestling. Germany’s Carl Schuhmann beats Greece’s Georgios Tsitas in the final.


For the only time in the history of the modern Olympics wrestling is not included on the programme, although professional wrestling did place elsewhere in Paris, where the Games is held.


Freestyle wrestling is introduced during the Olympics in St. Louis, with only American wrestlers competing. The first Greco-Roman Wrestling World Championship is held in Vienna.


For the first time both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling are held at the Olympics, in London


The International Wrestlers’ Union (IWU) is established prior to the Olympics in Stockholm, where freestyle wrestling is absent. Hungary’s Dr. Péter Tatits is elected as the temporary President of the IWU.


The IWU changes its name to the International Union of Heavy Athletics, with Tatits confirmed as President. German is adopted as the official language and length of wrestling matches was is fixed at 20 minutes, with a one-minute break.


The International Amateur Wrestling Federation (IAWF) is set up at the IOC Congress in Lausanne under Sweden’s Einar Raberg as President and English adopted as the official language.


Finland’s capital city Helsinki hosted the first men’s Freestyle Wrestling World Championship.


France’s Roger Coulon is named IAWF President. He renames the organisation the International Federation of Amateur Wrestling (FILA) two years later.


Wrestling makes its debut at the Asian Games in in Manila, The Philippines.


FILA becomes the first International Federation to be based in the Olympic capital Lausanne. The first wrestling competitions were held at the All-Africa Games.


The first women’s Freestyle Wrestling Championship are held in Lørenskog, Norway.


FILA is renamed International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles after it broadened to other wrestling styles.


Female wrestling appears at the Olympic programme for the first time when the Games returns to Athens. The decisions follows the IOC’s policy to try to establish equality in sport.


The IOC announces wrestling will be dropped from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics programme.

February 2013

Serbia’s Nenad Lalovic takes over the Presidency of FILA following the resignation of Raphaël Martinetti and begins modernising the sport. He pledges to drop two male weight classes and replace them with two women’s freestyle divisions to increase gender equality. A new challenge procedure, additional points for throws and world rankings were also introduced, while an improved social media policy are all targeted.

May 2013

Following the changes, wrestling is reinstated for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics by the full membership of the IOC after seeing off campaigns from squash and baseball/softball.

September 2013

A rebranding of the governing body sees FILA renamed as United World Wrestling.


The first World Championships under the United World Wrestling banner are held in Tashkent in Uzbekistan. Russia finished top of the medal table.


The combined World Championships in Greco-Roman and Freestyle are held in the United States for the first time, with Las Vegas staging competition.


Eighteen gold medals are awarded across the men’s and women’s wrestling events at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.


Paris holds the 14th edition of the combined World Championship, with Japan topping the medal table with six golds.