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Who Invented Wrestling?

Last Updated: 16.05.22


Wrestlers didn’t always wear protective equipment such as wrestling shoes or headgear. Things were a lot simpler back in the day, but when exactly was this period? When was wrestling invented and more importantly, by whom? We have done some research and found some of these answers. Read the following lines to find out more about wrestling.


About wrestling

Wrestling is a contact sport in which 2 opponents try to take each other down and gain a superior position. This sport involves moves, techniques and holds such as grappling, throws, pins or takedowns. There are two main types of wrestling. One is performed theatrically, to entertain the audience and the other is a real competitive match.

As this sport evolved, things changed depending on where the wrestling bout took place. The rules started to vary and this way, modern styles of wrestling were born. At the same time, the fighters began to wear wrestling gear, that mainly has a protection role.

Aside from the fact that the sport evolved by itself, some wrestling techniques were included in other martial arts or military hand-to-hand combat styles. The sport is so popular and the developed moves are so efficient that they were adopted in other combat styles.

According to UWW, wrestling styles are separated into two categories: folk wrestling and international wrestling. Folk wrestling is further divided into three disciplines (beach wrestling, belt wrestling, and amateur pankration) and international wrestling consists of the Olympic disciplines (Greco-Roman wrestling, men’s freestyle wrestling, and women’s freestyle wrestling).



Short history

Ever since Ancient times, long before David battled Goliath, one of the world’s oldest sport was beginning to spread its roots through the first empires. Before many weapons were invented, prehistoric men were settling their differences by grappling.

Some of the first real evidence we have regarding wrestling date back 5,000 years ago during the time of the Sumerians. Texts written in cuneiforms, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh or different sculptures are valid sources that tell us about some of these first wrestling competitions where a referee was present and the match was accompanied by music.

On the walls of Egyptian tombs, graphical depictions of men wrestling can be found. The tomb of Beni-Hassan, for example, represents approximately 400 couples that wrestle. They are drawn in different positions, distinctly showing that the Egyptians knew every hold that is practiced even today in modern wrestling.

Wrestling is clearly a popular sport and a very old one, as the wall drawings mentioned earlier are dated back to 3,500 years BC.

Wrestling quickly became the sport of kings from 704 BC. Wrestling was also popular in medieval England and even Henry VIII had a match with the king of France to settle a personal dispute. In America, wrestling had been popular since the time of the native Indians and the first immigrants.

Many biographers claim that president Abraham Lincoln was the first champion of the United States as he is depicted in more drawings standing over defeated opponents like Jack Armstrong. This was happening as early as 1830. As the US grew, so did the sport of wrestling.

Later on, a man named William Muldoon was to become one of the most famous wrestlers of the 19th century. His most well-known matches were with another legend of that period, the boxer John L. Sullivan. The period from 1900 to 1914 is generally considered to be the “golden age” of wrestling.

During those years, wrestling became the sport that drew the most audience in the English-speaking world. Names like George Hackenschmidt, Frank Gotch, Joe Stecher, Ed Lewis, Man Mountain Dean, Bronko Nagurski, and Two-Ton Tony Galento were all names that fans from all over the world knew well.

The 40s were the early years of the television and in California, professional wrestling was one of the first sports to receive television coverage. Wrestling has come a long way and was about to go much further still.


Abraham Lincoln wrestling stories

Abraham Lincoln was one of the most physically imposing American presidents. At 6 feet and 4 inches, he was an imposing presence amongst the majority of people. He was a rail splitter on the frontier and that demanded anyone be tough. In order to survive during that time you needed to be capable both to physically work hard as well as to have a strong mind.

By the age of 18, Lincoln was working as a shopkeeper. The owner of the store, his boss, learned that the boy was particularly good at wrestling. As a result, the owner thought of a way to turn this into a business advantage. He began to promote Lincoln as a local wrestling champion. Not long after that, the leader of a local gang decided to take him on.

Lincoln managed to win that legendary fight and not only did he became a well-known wrestler at that point, but he also gained the respect of the gang’s members. Those were among the first people who became his political followers. That came into play later on when, as an adult, Lincoln decided to run for office.

During those times, at the frontier, you couldn’t impress people very much with intricate speeches. It was a rough period and you had to prove yourself, sometimes by fighting in wrestling matches. This was one of Lincoln’s ways of getting people to vote for him.

One of the most famous stories about him took place when he was giving a campaign speech. In the middle of it, he noticed that one of his friends and campaign supporters had gotten into a fight with one of the opponent’s supporters. Lincoln strolled off the stage, walked up to the guy who was attacking his friend, lifted him up and threw him out, some say as far as 12 feet.

Then, Lincoln walked back through the crowd, got up onto the podium and continued his speech. Even if most of the people in the crowd didn’t hear what he was saying, they saw what he did and that impressed them. Lincoln’s wrestling abilities not only helped him in becoming president but also got him a place in the Wrestling Hall of Fame.




Wrestling is extremely old, as old as mankind itself, we might say. It’s been around for thousands of years. Even though it wasn’t considered a sport at first, it came naturally for people to settle their disputes or even have some fun by grabbing and taking each other down.

The sport has surely evolved since the beginning and rules have been implemented and adjusted along the way, but the spirit and core goals remain the same. Wrestling has evolved into many variations all over the world and is still a great sport that gives the fighter character and discipline.

Even if we have records as old as 15,000 years, from paintings on cave walls, we can be sure that this activity originated long before those times. Therefore it is impossible to know precisely who practiced wrestling for the first time. All we have are great, talented people that proved themselves by practicing this sport through the ages.




1) Wrestling origins and facts

2) When was wrestling first invented?

3) Early history of wrestling

4) Wrestling 101: Origins and Facts




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