A brief history of professional wrestling
The history of professional wrestling in the United States owes its current style to the brave kings, soldiers, and heroes of ancient civilizations. The wrestling origins are traced back on those days when men with unbelievable strengths were raised on pedestals and sat on the highest thrones. It was more than 5000 years ago when the Sumerian civilization started what we call today as one of the oldest sport history has ever recorded: wrestling. The Epic of Gilgamesh proves this point. It tells the adventures of Gilgamesh and his beast of a companion, Enkidu. The epic poem was contained in tablets uncovering some of the brave scenes where Gilgamesh wrestled with fellow strong men and beasts.
Ancient Egypt was also responsible for the wrestling origins of today’s stances, rules, and refereeing codes that serve as basis for modern wrestling. The walls within the ancient tombs of Beni-Hassan revealed intricate drawings of 400 wrestling pairs. This rich information helped wrestling thrive throughout the centuries.
Meanwhile in the north, ancient Greeks viewed wrestling as a science and divine art. Think of ancient wrestling as today’s basketball equivalent, where in every street you can see men and women play. But the mechanics back then were much different. To defeat the enemy, one must be able to throw him or bring him down on his back, chest, hips, knees, and elbows.
In the ancient Olympic games, wrestling was the most anticipated sport since it became the deciding factor to choose the pentathlon winner. Although wrestling is no longer included in the modern pentathlon, it remains to be one of the core sports in the biggest athletic event in the world.
The Roman empire had similar regard toward wrestling. Their enthusiasm was all thanks to the Estruscans, a powerful and wealthy Latin civilization who developed and restored the Greek games, which contributed to the Romans’ rich history of wrestling. Soldiers, aristocrats, and shepherds found great pride and entertainment when they fight and win wrestling matches.
The Roman soldiers train in palestras, a wrestling school or gymnasium of ancient Greek and Roman origin. This rigorous training led them to win many battles and attain military success. Unfortunately, after the fall of the Roman empire, these venues were reduced into dusts around 500 AD.
This drought ended only over a hundred years ago when wrestling was officially recognized as a professional sport. This was due to the struggle between the leaders of the church and key people of the state during the Middle ages that prevented this classic sport to flourish in the next thousand years. It was only in 1830 that France began the history of professional wrestling as they paved the road for its restoration during the Renaissance period.
This time, men from humble ranks participated in the challenge of strength as they travel around France under the direction of Jean Exbroyat. Since then, professional wrestling spread throughout Europe and later introduced to the colonized continents.
Not long after, the above-mentioned wrestling origins inspired the wrestling matches that continue to exist today. In modern America, wrestlers enthusiastically embraced the art of the ancient Greek of freestyle wrestling inside the ring. And the sport has flourished in the modern age. Up to this day, men and women who compete in a wrestling match are regarded as the strongest beings on the planet.
New to the world of wrestling? Keep on reading! Visit Ron Mullinax’s blog at www.vonerich.net/org or buy his book, Fritz von Erich: Master of the Iron Claw, already available at the leading book sellers. See more of the author’s works by following him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Bob Dellinger, 2011. “Wrestling in the USA.” National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Accessed on May 25, 2018. https://nwhof.org/stillwater/resources-library/history/wrestling-in-the-usa/.
United World Wrestling. 2018. “History of Wrestling.” Accessed on May 25, 2018. https://unitedworldwrestling.org/organisation/history-wrestling