Greco Roman Wrestling: Everything You Need To Know

Greco Roman Wrestling

Greco Roman wrestling is one of the most practiced styles of wrestling in the world. Along with freestyle wrestling, Greco Roman wrestling is the only other style of wrestling that’s an Olympic sport.

Here is everything that you need to know about Greco Roman wrestling. We’ll go over how it was developed and go over the rule set of the sport.

We also listed some of the most notable MMA fighters that were also accomplished Greco Roman wrestlers.

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The history of Greco Roman wrestling 

While some might believe that Greco Roman wrestling is an ancient form of wrestling from the name, it isn’t. This style of wrestling was actually developed in France during the late 1800s. 

The wrestler credited with coming up with Greco Roman Wrestler was Jean Exbrayat. A French soldier that was one of the most accomplished wrestlers within the French army.

After serving in the French army, Exbrayat would wrestle in French carnivals and fairs throughout the country. Displaying his excellent wrestling skills and taking on anyone that wished to test his skills.

As Exbrayat did this, he would begin developing his own style of wrestling. One that he would call “Flat Hand Wrestling” or “French Wrestling.”

Exbrayat also established rules for his style to differentiate it from other styles of folk wrestling. You could only perform takedowns above your opponent’s waist and submissions were not allowed.

Greco Roman wrestling is shared throughout Europe

Since Exbrayat was a traveler, he was able to share his style of wrestling to numerous people. Many wrestlers across Europe began practicing this style of wrestling and it became quite popular.

A Greek wrestler named Basilo Bartoletti would coin the term Greco Roman wrestling. Claiming that this style of wrestling was similar to ancient Greek wrestling, when in reality they were nothing alike.

That didn’t matter, because the name stuck and everyone began referring to this style as Greco Roman style wrestling.

Greco Roman wrestling becomes an Olympic sport

Thanks to the popularity of Greco Roman style wrestling across Europe, this led to it becoming an Olympic event. Greco Roman wrestling was added to the very first modern edition of the Olympic Games in 1896.

Then it was added to the Summer Olympics in 1904 and has been a part of the Olympics until this day. The only other form of wrestling that is an Olympic sport along with Greco Roman wrestling is freestyle wrestling.

The rules of Greco Roman wrestling

The rules of Greco Roman wrestling are very rigid and different from that of freestyle and folkstyle wrestling. Here are the rules of a Greco Roman style wrestling match taken directly from the Rules Of Sport website.

  • Only takedowns above the waist are permitted
  • No striking
  • No trips or striking the legs are permitted.

The format of a Greco Roman wrestling match

  • A Greco Roman wrestling match is three periods that are two minutes each.
  • Their broken down into a 60 second neutral position(on the feet) and two 30 second ride positions
  • The wrestler that scores the most points in the 60 seconds gets to be in the dominant ride position.
  • If neither wrestler scores in the neutral position, a coin will be flipped to decide positions.

Ways to win a Greco Roman wrestling match

There are five ways to win a Greco Roman wrestling match. Those methods of victory include:

  • Pin/Fall
  • Technical Fall/Pin
  • 8 Point Lead
  • Judge’s Decision
  • Default(Injury or Forfeit)
  • Disqualification

Greco Roman wrestling point system

  • Takedowns: You can get between 2-5 points for a takedown. Five points being a perfect throw to a near fall position and the rest being based on style and technique.
  • Exposure Points: These are the amount of time a wrestler keeps their opponent’s back on the mat. Three points for perfect execution and two points for normal execution.
  • Reversal: All reversals are one point.
  • Out of Bounds: Going out of bounds for any reason awards a point to the opponent.
  • Penalty Points: Between 1-2 points can be given to a wrestler if their opponent commits illegal moves or an unforced timeout.)

Greco Roman wrestling weight classes

Men’s weight classes:

  • 55 kg (121 lbs) 
  • 60 kg (132 lbs)
  • 63 kg (139 lbs) 
  • 67 kg (148 lbs)
  • 72 kg (159 lbs) 
  • 77 kg (170 lbs)
  • 82 kg (181 lbs) 
  • 87 kg (192 lbs)
  • 97 kg (214 lbs)
  • 130 kg (286.5 lbs)

Women’s weight classes:

  • 50 kg (110 lbs)
  • 53 kg (117 lbs)
  • 55 kg (121 lbs) 
  • 57 kg (126 lbs)
  • 59 kg (130 lbs) 
  • 62 kg (137 lbs)
  • 65 kg (143. lbs) 
  • 68 kg (150 lbs)
  • 72 kg (159 lbs) 
  • 76 kg (168 lbs)

Where is Greco Roman wrestling predominantly practiced? 

Greco Roman wrestling is widely popular throughout Europe, Russia, and in the US. It has also become rather popular in middle eastern countries like Iran and Azerbaijan. 

What are the biggest Greco Roman Wrestling events? 

The biggest Greco Roman Wrestling events are the world championship and the Olympic Summer Games event. Every year, the Greco Roman world championship is held in a different country and the Olympics are held every four years.(Also in a different country each time.)

Does Greco Roman wrestling translate well to MMA? 

Greco Roman style wrestling has translated very well into the sport of MMA. The upper body clinching techniques underhooks, and overhooks from Greco Roman style wrestling have been proven effective in MMA.

Notable Greco Roman wrestlers in MMA

There have been numerous MMA fighters with Greco Roman backgrounds that have been successful at the sport. Even some that have won world championships and became UFC hall of farmers.

  • Dan Henderson: Dan Henderson a Greco Roman World Cup silver medalist on two occasions before fighting in MMA full time. He won titles in every major MMA promotion before being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
  • Randy Couture: Randy Couture was one of the best Greco Roman wrestlers in the world before entering MMA. He would use this ability to win 6 UFC titles and become a hall of famer.
  • Dan Severn: Dan Severn was the first wrestler to win a UFC title. Before he was a champion MMA fighter, Severn won a world cup in Greco Roman wrestling
  • Matt Lindland: Matt Lindland was an accomplished Greco Roman wrestler along with being a seasoned UFC vet. He was one of the first Olympic medalists to compete in MMA.
  • Chael Sonnen: The Bad Guy was a two time silver medalist in the Pac-10 Championship before making the jump to MMA.
  • Jon Jones: Jon Jones excelled at Greco Roman and Folkstyle wrestling before becoming one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.
  • Mark Madsen: An Olympic silver medalist in Greco Roman Wrestling that is currently in the UFC and undefeated as a pro fighter.