Written by Verdict Community member Taylor Dow
Humans have wrested for thousands of years, with even some of the first humans creating cave paintings in Europe depicting the act around 12,000 BCE. People would continue to evolve wrestling in the first civilizations of Greece and host many forms of it during their ancient Olympic games from 708 BCE. Wrestling would be a staple sport for ancient humans until Roman Emperor Theodosius I banned the Olympics in 393 AD to promote religion.
Humans would still train and showcase wrestling for the next 1,500 years, but it wasn't until the rebirth of the Olympic games in 1896 that a form of wrestling would appear again on a grand stage, with Greco-Roman wrestling debuting on the first modern Olympic games. 8 years later, the freestyle wrestling we know today made its debut at the St. Louis Olympic games and has stuck around ever since.
At the same time that wrestling became recognized in the Olympics, United States colleges and high schools followed suit with a means to teach kids strength, agility and discipline. This introduction to wrestling would open the floodgates for incredible wrestlers to come out of the United States, and as such, wrestling is now a sport many Americans hold in high regard.
Although wrestling featured in the Olympics, these bouts are considered amateur. The men involved didn't have any professional sport to broadcast their skills to until the first Ultimate Fighting Championship event aired in 1993. Ken Shamrock would fight in the first UFC event as a "Shootfighter" who was familiar with many aspects of martial arts, with wrestling being his primary one. Shamrock went on to be one of the first stars of the promotion by using his quick wit on the microphone and skill inside the Octagon. Many wrestlers would now have a real sport they could compete as professionals to prove how good they were.
Many wrestling-based stars would rise within the UFC since its inception, with some of the biggest stars and champions coming from a wrestling background. These days, all MMA fighters must have some wrestling, with the bare minimum being good takedown defence. As it stands today, wrestling is widely known to be the best base for MMA, as many fans and fighters recognize that if you can hold an opponent down, you can nullify anything they wish to do.
Wrestling is one of the oldest sports still practised today and truly defines actual human combat; when people fight, the majority of the time, it will end up on the ground. Although predominantly seen as ground fighting, wrestling also involves standing in a clinch situation or as simple as being in front of your opponent; how you move versus how they move, as well as foot positions, all define wrestling.
Wrestling still stands as one of the most effective types of combat humans can engage in, and after a 15,000-year-old history, we can undoubtedly count on 15,000 more.