Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Comparison and Contrast of Two Modern Olympic/Commonwelth Wrestling Styles

Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling are the two amateur wrestling styles used in the Olympics. They have similar founding rules, but they have some major differences.These two Olympic forms of wrestling have similar weight classes, time periods, and rules to win; but they have different singlets and rules about women and legs.

The History of the Two Wrestling Styles

  • Greco-Roman wrestling is modeled after the Ancient Olympic style of wrestling. This style has been used since the Olympic Games were revived in 1896.
  • Freestyle wrestling is much newer and was not introduced until 1904.

The Use of Arms and Legs

  • Greco-Roman wrestlers primarily use their upper-body strength (back and arms). In this style, wrestlers are not allowed to use their legs (i.e. tripping), and they are not allowed to grab their opponents legs.
  • Freestyle wrestling is a full-body wrestling style. A wrestler of this style uses their own legs for an advantage and also inhibits their opponent's legs for holds and break-downs. Upper body strength is crucial to this style of wrestling as well, but a great wrestler in this style knows how to use their whole body to take control of a match.

The Inclusion of Women

  • Greco-Roman wrestling continues to be a male-only sport. Women do not compete in this style at the Olympic level (or the college level) and this is most likely because of the necessary upper-body strength inherent to this style.
  • Freestyle wrestling has incorporated girls for several decades. Women's freestyle wrestling became an Olympic event in the summer of 2004.


  • Greco-Roman singlets must extend to the knee, and typically extend to a wrestler's ankle.
  • Freestyle singlets may not extend past the mid-thigh. 

Weight Classes

  • Because wrestling is an Olympic event, the standardized unit for mass is in kilograms (kg).
  • Male wrestlers of both Greco-Roman and Freestyle have the same six weight divisions. These are: men under 55kg, men 55-60kg, men 66-74kg, men 74-84kg, men 84-96kg, and men 96-120kg.
  • Female freestyle wrestlers have less weight brackets because there are less competitors at the Olympic level; they have only four weight divisions instead of six. Their divisions are: under 48kg, 48-55kg , 55-63kg, and 63-72kg.

Time Periods Allotted

  • In both styles, there are two 3-minute period allotted.
  • There is a potential overtime period of three minutes. Overtime is only allowed if neither wrestler was pinned and neither wrestler scored at least three points in the allotted six minutes.


  • A match is only complete when a wrestler pins their opponent to the mat. A pin is when a wrestler places both of the opponent’s shoulder blades on the mat for two seconds. The two seconds and whether or not both shoulder blades are on the mat for those two seconds are determined by the referee.
  • A match is won in overtime by the first person to score three points.
  • If three points are not earned by either wrestler after three-minute overtime, the officials select a winner.

Read more at Suite101: Greco-Roman and Freestyle Wrestling: A Comparison and Contrast of Two Modern Olympic Wrestling Styles

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