Ask your average Joe about the history of wrestling and, in all likelihood, you’re likely to get an answer that cites The Second Golden Era of the WWF during the 1980s as being the beginning of wrestling as we know it today.
Indeed, this particular era of wrestling is ingrained in the childhood memories of the majority of men over the age of twenty-five. For it was at this point that stars such as Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and The Undertaker brought wrestling to the forefront of our cultures and helped to popularise it for the masses with the use of elaborate costumes, character traits, humour and dramatic storylines which touched upon the theatrical.
The Second Golden Era of wrestling which occurred during the 1980s should rightly be deemed to be the catalyst which ushered in wrestling as we now know it today and yet, contrary to popular belief, wrestling has its origins at a point far before the 1980s.
Wrestling with the Facts
The very beginning of wrestling can be traced back to Mongolia in the year 7000 BC, which was the Neolithic Era of man and thus, quite literally, the Neolithic Era of wrestling. Evidence from surviving cave paintings from this era depicts two figures with their arms interlocked stood in front of a crowd of people.
Whilst little is known with regard to whether this early form of wrestling was used as a means of entertainment or dispute settling, several historical commentators have noted that, given Mongolia’s somewhat tempestuous history, in all likelihood Mongolian tribes used wrestling as a means with which to earn respect amongst their peers and settle disputes without the need for bloodshed.
Wrestling as a Sport
The Greeks more widely popularised the use of wrestling as a sport and considered it to be one of the earliest forms of martial arts. Moreover, it is the Greeks who are attributed with having laid the foundations for the rules that currently govern wrestling as an Olympic sport.
During the Greek era wrestlers were awarded points for forcing a competitor’s back to the ground and for forcing a competitor out of the designated circle in which the grappling took place.
Why a Circle Is Called a Square
In fact the very reason why contemporary wrestling commentators have continually referred to the wrestling ring as ‘the squared circle’ (when it is actually rectangular) over the course of the past thirty years is all down to the rules that were formulated by the Greeks.
Specifically, the rules of Greek wrestling dictated that wrestling should take place on a large mat with a circle painted on it and that any competitor who was forced out of this circle and into the out-of-bounds area would thus forfeit a point. Hence the reason why modern spaces reserved for wrestling competitors are referred to as ‘the wrestling ring’.
Wrestling in the Modern Olympic Era
Wrestling was one of the major sports that was contested at the inaugural 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens – the first time that the Olympic Games were held in the Modern Era. The rules that were adopted for the appearance of wrestling at the Olympics were much the same as the rules that were used in ancient Greece over two thousand years previous.
High Schools Adopt Wrestling as a Sport
Wrestling remained a popular Olympic favourite and subsequently became a popular means of demonstrating a young man’s skill and strength in high schools across the world, being particularly popular in Russian and American schools.
Wrestling Goes High-Octane!
The emergence of high-octane wrestling as we know it today came largely as a result of the rising popularity of wrestling in American high schools and the widespread introduction of television sets in America throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
The global television syndication of wrestling formats such as WWF led to a rise in the success of high-entertainment wrestling across the world and it remains a particularly popular form of global entertainment to the extent that wrestling companies regularly tour throughout the world and take their live shows on the road.
Lucas Conner is a freelance writer and wrestling enthusiast who is based in Ireland. If you are interested in attending live wrestling events in Ireland then he recommends searching www.wrestling.ie for more information.
Photo Credits: Wikipedia
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