Wrestling is one of the oldest forms of combat, referenced in the Iliad and depicted in 15,000-year-old cave drawings in France. Early Egyptian and Babylonian reliefs show moves still used today.

Always popular in ancient Greece, wrestling held a prominent place in the Olympic Games. It was developed by ancient Greeks as a way to train soldiers in hand-to-hand combat. After defeating the Greeks, the Roman Empire borrowed from Greek wrestling but eliminated much of the brutality. The Greeks feared the true history of the sport would be lost, and so Greco-Roman wrestling was born.

During the Middle Ages wrestling was popular, including in royal houses in France, Japan, and England. Much later, American settlers brought wresting traditions with them from England and discovered wrestling to be popular among the Native American tribes. During the early years of America’s development, amateur wresting was very popular, making appearances at county fairs, carnivals, holiday celebrations, and military exercises. Of the many styles practiced during that time, however, only the catch-as-catch-can survived, evolving into the style used today at the collegiate level.