For most of human history, wrestling has been a popular sport. Cave drawings in France, dated from 15,000 years ago, depict scenes of wrestling. Babylonian and Egyptian relief sculptures show wrestlers using many of the holds used in the sport today. In ancient Greece, the wrestling competitions were the supreme contest of the original Olympic Games. Those competitions were brutal, and were tied to military training. The Romans adopted wrestling from the Greeks, but rid the sport of the more vicious aspects.
Throughout the Middle Ages, wrestling matches were a popular entertainment among the poor and the rich alike. Royalty in England, France and Japan enjoyed wrestling, and backed their favorite champions. When the early settlers arrived on the shores of America, they brought wrestling with them, but discovered the Native Americans already established in a wrestling tradition. Amateur wrestling continued to be popular entertainment at county fairs, holiday festivals, and in military training and exercises.
In 1888, the first national wrestling tournament was organized in New York City. In 1896 and 1904, wrestling was once again included as an Olympic sport, as a nod to the roots of the Games. This was followed by the NCAA Wrestling Championships in 1912. In 1983, USA Wrestling emerged as the national governing body for amateur wrestling, and continues to conduct competitions for wrestlers of all ages.
There have been several forms of wrestling through time, from the classic Greco-Roman style to free-style to catch-as-catch-can.
In the early 1920,s a professional wrestler by the name of Joseph “Toots” Mondt created a new form of pro wrestling which he dubbed “Slam Bang Western Style”. His aim was to make wrestling more entertaining to the audience. His new form combined elements of all the various forms of wrestling over the years, including Greco-Roman, lumber-camp fighting and freestyle as well as boxing and theatre. From this beginning, the modern sport of pro wrestling evolved.
In 1953, the Capitol Wrestling Corporation was founded, which promoted wrestling under the World Wide Wrestling Federation banner. After several changes, the company became the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) in 2002.
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