Aquathlon: An Aquatic Spin on the Wrestling You Know

November 3, 2017 at 5:33 am Ron Mullinax

Aquathlon is not only a sport but can also be used to train lifeguards



Wrestling is considered one of the oldest sports, but it grew in popularity during the nineteenth century with Greco-Roman wrestling being a celebrated spectacle in Europe. Not long after that, freestyle wrestling and collegiate wrestling quickly spread in Great Britain and the United States respectively. By the turn of the twentieth century, it became a widely accepted form of entertainment, giving birth to professional wrestling in 1920.

By the 1950s, wrestling gained a loyal following in some parts of Canada and the United States. It was in 1953 when the name Von Erich would first debut in wrestling and become known in every household. Trained by Stu Hart, Jack Adkisson, a.k.a. Fritz Von Erich, teamed up with Waldo Von Erich as the Evil German Brothers under Klondike Wrestling promotion. Jack’s career skyrocketed, helping rebuild Japanese wrestling and becoming a star for his “Iron Claw” hold, which became one of the most popular wrestling moves in Japan. Even after Jack’s death in 1997, his sons continued the Von Erich wrestling dynasty and helped push wrestling forward, becoming more than just a show.

And indeed wrestling became more than just a sport or a form of entertainment; it became a culture, providing people like Igor Ostrovsky a chance to reinvent it. And thus, Aquathlon (Underwater Wrestling) was created in Russia during the 1980s. Aquathlon is an underwater sport where two opponents wrestle underwater to remove a ribbon from each other’s ankles. Each of the competitors wears a swimsuit, a diving mask, rubber fins, a water polo cap (red for one and yellow for the other), and two ankle bands. One match is made up of three thirty-second rounds inside a five-meter-square ring in a swimming pool marked by floating ropes, matching each side’s color. It was officially acknowledged by the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) as a sport in 2008.

Aquathlon’s close-combat style originated from special underwater forces training. Students simply imitate grappling moves and practice them with trained instructors. Aquathlon is not only used as special forces training but also lifeguard training. People who are drowning can pose a real threat to lifeguards as they may drag both of them down. Aquathlon training programs can aid lifeguards to anticipate such attempts and control the victim’s movements.

The sport is as also popular with women and kids as young as the age of seven. Aquathlon wrestlers are ranked from frog, little fish, fish, dolphins, and, finally, shark. The Aquathlon World Championships is held on November 17–20, 2017 in Klaipėda, Lithuania, on the Baltic Sea coast.

Wrestling paved the way for new sports to develop. What do you think about Aquathlon? Comment below or tweet me @RonGMullinax. To learn more about Fritz Von Erich’s unbelievable story, read my book, Fritz Von Erich: Master of the Iron Claw available at Litfire Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Goodreads.



Spong, John. 2005. “Six Brothers.” The Von Erichs. Accessed October 12, 2017.

Bradshaw, Luke. 2017. “Aquathlon: When Wrestling Goes Underwater.” The Culture Trip, June 15. Accessed October 12, 2017.

CMAS. 2017. “Aquathlon World Cup.” Last modified September 19. Accessed October 12, 2017.

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