The greatest moments in wrestling's history

US wrestler Andy Hrovat
(Image credit: Unknown)

8th century BC

The first Olympics take place in Ancient Greece: the exact date is disputed, but the early tournaments are known to have included wrestling. No hitting, gouging or biting is allowed, and points are scored for making an opponent’s back touch the ground or forcing him to tap in submission.

1520 AD

During a meeting in Flanders to strengthen Anglo-French relations, French king Francis I wrestles England’s own Henry VIII in a friendly exhibition match and manages to throw him, despite being smaller and lighter.

1830 AD

An eighteen-year-old Illinois wrestler named Abraham Lincoln, already a champion in the popular catch-as-catch-can style, takes on local tough and county champ Jack Armstrong. Lincoln wins, but a fight kicks off in the crowd – a regular occurrence in wrestling’s early days.

1948 AD

Karl Gotch competes for Belgium in the 1948 Olympics, then goes on to be the first successful amateur wrestler to make the transition to professional (ie fake) wrestling.

1988 AD

Russian Alexander Karelin, widely regarded as the most dominant wrestler ever, wins his first of three Olympic golds, kicking off a winning streak that lasts for six years. He puts his success down to running through chest-high snowdrifts, sometimes carrying a giant log.

1996 AD

American wrestler Kurt Angle takes the heavyweight gold in the Atlanta Olympics. In 1998, he joins the World Wrestling Federation, kicking off a trend for legitimately successful amateur wrestlers joining the pro ranks.

2004 AD

Fan favouriite Brock Lesnar leaves the WWE. He starts training in MMA and has his debut fight in 2007. Lesnar is scheduled to fight UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture for the title on 15th November.

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