Wrestling

P074Wrestling is the oldest form of fighting without weapons. There were two forms: upright wrestling and ground wrestling. To win in upright wrestling one had to make his opponent fall three times. Whereas today the back of the opponent should touch the ground, for the Greeks any part of the body counted. With ground wrestling the whole body could touch the ground and one only won if the opponent submitted by pointing up his index finger to the umpire. Upright wrestling was practised in the sandpit that was also used for the long jump, ground wrestling was done on wet sand. Upright wrestling became an Olympic event in 708 BC, together with the pentathlon. Ground wrestling never took place at the games. Wrestling matches were organized both as a separate event and as part of the pentathlon. Wrestling for boys was introduced in 632 BC.

P075 Wrestling was kept in check by several rules: blows were not permitted (this is boxing), nor holds on the male organs or biting. It was also forbidden to fight outside the sandpit. The athletes anointed their body with oil, but sprinkled some dust over it to allow their opponents to grab them.

Famous wrestlers :

* Kleitomachos of Thebes
* Milon of Kroton

© KU Leuven, 2012