• Men (14 events): 55kg, 60kg, 66kg, 74kg, 84kg, 96kg, 120kg, freestyle and Greco-Roman

  • Women (4 events): 48kg, 55kg, 63kg, 72kg


Direct elimination system (1/8 finals, quarterfinals, semifinals), then final. The wrestlers losing against one of the two finalists make up a repechage for the two bronze medals.


5000 BC

Engravings show that wrestling was practised in this era.

19th century

A Frenchman, Exbrayat, a former Napoleonic soldier, invents rules and regulations for greco-roman wrestling.


Wrestling features in the first Games of the modern Olympiad, with the only category, in the greco-roman event, featuring 5 superheavyweight competitors.


Wrestling temporarily disappears from the Olympic programme.


The Americans, practitioners of mainly freestyle wrestling, introduce this event Games in Saint Louis.


The Greco-Roman event returns to the Games. For the first time both styles - freestyle and Greco-Roman - feature on the Olympic programme.


Alexander Medved of the Soviet Union becomes the first wrestler to win a third Olympic title in freestyle.


Women's wrestling makes its Olympic debut at the Games in Athens.


Alexander Medved (USSR)

Freestyle king. Triple Olympic freestyle champion in 1964, 1968 and 1972, at - 97kg, +97kg and +100 kg. The Belarus was also world champion seven times between 1962 and 1971 and European champion three times in a glittering career.

Bruce Baumgartner (United States)

A baker's dozen of medals. In the 130kg class the American free-styler battled to Olympic gold in 1984 and 1992. At Seoul in 1988 he was pinned into silver and at Atlanta in 1996 was still around to pick up a bronze. He also won the world crown in 1986, 1993 and 1995.

Alexander Kareline (USSR/Russia)

The greatest. This mountain of muscle, who was also a knowledgeable music lover, is regarded as wrestling's all time great. He won three Olympic golds in the Greco-Roman discipline in 1988, 1992 and 1996 all in the 130kg category. He also won nine world and 12 European crowns. He was unbeaten from 1987 until the Sydney 2000 Games where he was finally beaten in the final.