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Amateur wrestling

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

FILA Greatest Wrestler of 20th Century (Greco-Roman) Alexander Karelin throws Olympian Jeff Blatnick with his "Karelin Lift"
FILA Greatest Wrestler of 20th Century (Greco-Roman) Alexander Karelin throws Olympian Jeff Blatnick with his "Karelin Lift"
Andrell Durden (top) and Edward Harris grapple for position during the All-Marine Wrestle Offs.
Andrell Durden (top) and Edward Harris grapple for position during the All-Marine Wrestle Offs.
Two US Air Force members wrestling
Two US Air Force members wrestling

Amateur wrestling is the most widespread form of sport wrestling. There are two international wrestling styles performed in the Olympic Games under the supervision of FILA (Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées or International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles): Freestyle and Greco-Roman. Freestyle is possibly derived from the English Lancashire style. A similar style, commonly called Collegiate, Folkstyle, or Scholastic, is practiced in secondary schools, colleges, and younger age groups in the United States. Where the style is not specified, this article refers to the international styles.


Freestyle and Greco-Roman differ in what holds are permitted; in Greco-Roman, the wrestlers are permitted to hold and attack only above the waist. In both Greco-Roman and freestyle, points can be scored the following ways:

  • Takedowns: Gaining control over your opponent from a neutral position.
  • Reversals: Gaining control over your opponent from a defensive position.
  • Near-Fall: Exposing your opponent's back to the mat for several seconds, also awarded if one's back is to the mat but the wrestler isn't pinned.
  • Penalty Points: Various infractions (striking your opponent, acting with brutality or intent to injure, using illegal holds, etc). (Under the 2004-2005 changes to the international styles, a wrestler whose opponent takes an injury time-out receives one point unless the injured wrestler is bleeding.) Any wrestler stepping out of bounds while standing in the neutral position during a match is penalized by giving his/her opponent a point.

Scores no longer rewarded in Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling

In 2004, FILA radically changed the format and scoring of the international styles. Part of this involved eliminating two ways of scoring which are possible from the par terre, or 'on the mat,' position.

  • Escapes: Escaping your opponent's control.
  • Lifting: Successfully lifting an opponent in the defensive position and exposing his back.

Period Format

In the International styles, the format is now three two-minute periods a wrestler winning the match when he has won two out of three periods; for example if one competitor were to win the first period 1-0 and the second period 1-0, the match would be over. However, if the other competitor were to win the second period then third and deciding period would result. Only a fall or disqualification terminates the match; all other modes of victory result only in period termination. One side effect of this format is that it is possible for the losing wrestler to outscore the winner. For example, periods may be scored 3-2, 0-4, 1-0, leading to a total score of 4-6 but a win for the wrestler scoring fewer points.

In Folkstyle wrestling, the periods are different. A high school match typically consists of three two-minute periods, with multiple overtimes possible if necessary. Under the standard rules for Folkstyle wrestling, ties are not possible; this rule is sometimes modified for young wrestlers.

Victory Conditions in the International Styles

A match can be won in the following ways:

  • Win by Fall: A fall, also known as a pin, occurs when one wrestler holds both his opponents' shoulders on the mat simultaneously.
  • Win by Technical Fall: If one wrestler gains a six-point lead over his opponent at any point, the current period is declared over and he is the winner of that period.
  • Win by Decision: If neither wrestler achieves either type of fall, the one who has gained more points during the match (or period internationally) is declared the winner. If the wrestlers have gained the same number of points, then it is ruled by the judges through certain criteria in the international styles. In folkstyle and collegiate wrestling, an overtime system will result to decide the winner.
  • Win by Injury: If one wrestler is injured and unable to continue, the other wrestler is declared the winner. This is also referred to as a medical forfeit or injury default. The term also encompasses situations where wrestlers become injured, take too many injury time-outs or cannot stop bleeding. If a wrestler is injured by his opponent's illegal maneuver and cannot continue, the wrestler at fault is disqualified.

Victory Conditions in Folkstyle

In addition to fall, decision, injury and disqualification, Folkstyle differs on some points from the international styles.

  • Win by Fall: A fall in folkstyle must be held for two full seconds for high schoolers or one full second for college wrestlers.
  • Win by Technical Fall: If, at any break in action, one wrestler leads the other by 15 points, the match ends.
  • Win By Major Decision: In folkstyle and collegiate wrestling, a decision in which the winner outscores his opponent by eight or more points is a "major decision" and is rewarded with an additional team point.

Illegal moves

Amateur wrestling is a positionally-based form of grappling, and thus generally prohibits the following:

  • Biting
  • Pinching and poking with the fingers, toes, or nails, including fish-hooking the nose or mouth
  • Gouging or intentionally scratching the opponent – eye-gouges especially are grounds for disqualification and banned status in most amateur wrestling communities
  • Strikes using hands, fists, elbows, feet, knees, or head
  • Joint locks, including armlocks, leglocks, spinal locks, wristlocks and small joint manipulation.
  • Chokeholds, strangling, or smothering
  • Spiking, or lifting and slamming the opponent head-first into the mat (though other forms of slamming are generally allowed in the international styles; in folkstyle, slamming is per se illegal)
  • Grasping or Holding an opponent's genitals
  • Using a figure-four leg lock (one knee is bent at a 90º angle and placed behind the other knee) of the torso or the head in the neutral position (it is, however, legal to figure-four the head if both wrestlers are not in the neutral position; this rule exists primarily to prevent people from using a figure-four lock of the head to prevent a 'shooting' takedown, as it is very dangerous in that circumstance)
  • Most types of wrestling also discourage or prohibit the use of one's own or the opponent's clothing for grasping or performing any type of hold

No modern sport allows biting, finger-poking, or eye-gouging, but many other grappling-based sports permit some or all of the other tactics listed above, including Shoot wrestling, Judo, Jujutsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, mixed martial arts and Catch Wrestling.


While there is not much equipment that a wrestler wears it is highly specialized. A wrestling singlet is a one-piece, tight-fitting, colored, lycra uniform. The uniform is tight-fitting so as not to get grasped accidentally by the opponent and allows the referee to see each wrestler's body clearly when awarding points or a pin. Women wrestlers wear a higher cut singlet with a sports-bra underneath.

Wrestling shoes are light, flexible, thin-soled, ankle-high sneakers that allow maximum speed and traction on the mat without giving up ankle support. The current rules call for laces (if any) to be covered so they do not come untied during competition.

In high school and college wrestling head gear is used to protect the ears from cauliflower ear. Head gear is made from molded plastic polymer or vinyl coated energy absorbing foam over a rigid hard liner and strapped to the head tightly.

It is illegal for wrestlers to wear a cup.

Wrestling is conducted on a padded mat that must have excellent shock absorption, tear resistance, and compression qualities. Most mats are made of PVC rubber nitrile foam. Recent advances in technology have brought about new mats made using closed cell, cross-linked polyethylene foam covered in vinyl backed with non-woven polyester.

World participation

The countries with the leading wrestlers in the Olympic Games are Iran, United States, Russia (and some of the former Soviet Union republics), Bulgaria, Hungary, Cuba, Sweden, Finland, Korea, Germany, and Turkey.

In the United States currently there is a decline in men's wrestling programs in colleges and universities that some attribute to Title IX. It is believed by some that when schools cannot add enough opportunities for women they choose to scrap their wrestling programs (other programs that have a primary target of men, such as golf and men's swimming, are believed to be similarly affected). This has caused controversy in recent years.

Women's amateur wrestling is gaining popularity around the world, and has recently been added as an Olympic sport.

In some countries, people engage in simulated wrestling matches as a performance ("sports entertainment"). See professional wrestling.

  • Amateur wrestling in Australia
  • Amateur wrestling in Europe
  • Amaresu (Japan)
  • Amateur wrestling in the United States

See also

  • Collegiate wrestling
  • Massachusetts wrestling
  • Weight classes
  • List of famous amateur wrestlers

External links

  • International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) official homepage
  • USA Wrestling
  • Website of the film 'Catch - the hold not taken', a documentary on the history of Amateur Wrestling
  • - Amateur Wrestling Wiki
  • List of native wrestling styles, eg. Vat, Sumo, Glima, ...
  • Martialedge, interviews, articles, reviews
  • Pictures of various amateur wrestling matches
  • Pictures of amateur and international wrestling matches
  • Web Page for Florida Wrestling
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