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Greco-Roman wrestling

Wrestling is a hand-to-hand combat system and a set of combat sports involving grappling-type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. Wrestling techniques have been incorporated into martial arts, combat sports and military systems. The sport can either be genuinely competitive or sportive entertainment (see professional wrestling).


  • Nearly all countries had their ancient form of wrestling, such as the colorful glima of the Icelanders, the schweizer swingen of the Swiss, the Cumberland of the Irish, the rough Lancashire style of the Scotch. Graeco-Roman wrestling, still popular in foreign countries and still on the Olympic program, stipulates that legs cannot be used for attack or defense and that every hold must be above the belt. Wrestling is older than civilization in India and China and has been popular in Germany for centuries. In fact, several of our crack American wrestlers were husky men of German extraction: Eugene Sandow, Max Luttbeg, Frank Gotch, Joe Stecher, Ray Steele and Dick Daviscourt.
    In America the prevailing hold is catch-as-catch-can, in which only the strangle hold is barred. All American wrestling was amateur at first. Friendly scufflings were held outdoors at picnics and fairs like the backwoods bouts of young Abraham Lincoln. However, soon the best wrestlers went on tour, meeting all comers, and the sport widened.
    • Harold Keith, Sports and Games (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1941), p. 270-271
  • The American corn-belt states have always produced great wrestlers. One of their first was Clarence Whistler of Omaha, Nebraska, who was perhaps outstanding among early champions. After Whistler came Tom Jenkins of Cleveland who ruled until he ran afoul of another corn-belter, an Iowa farm boy named Frank Gotch. After defeating Jenkins, Gotch vanquished opponent after opponent until he won more than one hundred matches and retired in 1915. The irritable Gotch is usually conceded to be the greatest of all the American champions, although some fine wretslers, among them Joe Stetcher, Earl Caddock, Ed "Strangler" Lewis and Stanislaus Zbyszko, held the world's title after him. None of them, however, held it for more than three years at a stretch.
    • Harold Keith, Sports and Games (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1941), p. 271
  • The term "world's champion" is often a misnomer. A few years ago Zbyszko, the great Polish champion who twice won the so-called world's championship by vanquishing the best wrestlers in America, was offered ten thousand dollars to go to Bombay and wrestle Gama, the champion of India. Although few people had ever heard of Gama, who was a Jew turned Mohammedan, Zbyszko was amazed when he faced him across the ring. He saw a man fifty-five years old who was only five feet seven inches tall and weighed two hundred and sixty pounds. The man had not the faintest ripple of fat on his body. The bout was all over in eight seconds and later the surprised Zbyszko said it was like wrestling some wild animal, and that he felt if he got up and tried to fight back he would be killed in the ring. Gama was urged to come to America but refused, supremely indifferent to the fact that we had then at least four "world's champions" in the United States.
    • Harold Keith, Sports and Games (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1941), p. 271
  • Wrestling is healthy. No other sport so brings into play the vital organs of the body. The constant stretching and twisting of the body tends to strengthen the muscles needed for good digestion. Likewise wrestling is an effective blood circulator and body builder. Wrestling is not dangerous. Ed "Strangler" Lewis, a former heavyweight champion who wrestled nearly a quarter of a century, declares that only two wrestlers have ever been killed in an American ring. What other American contact sport can show such immunity?
    • Harold Keith, Sports and Games (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1941), p. 281

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