5 facts that prove wrestling is the best sport at the Olympics


What's your favourite sport at the Olympics? After reading this, it will definitely be wrestling.

As Rio draws ever closer, we're taking a look at each of the Olympic sports in turn. This week, we're dropping in on the wrestling arena.

1. Winning Olympic gold was just not macho enough for some of the wrestling heroes of the ancient Games.

Japanese female wrestlers form the Olympic rings with their medals (AP)
(L-R) Japan's Olympic medalists Risako Kawai, Saori Yoshida, Eri Tosaka, Sara Dosho, Kaori Icho (AP)

Five-times champion Milo of Croton died after trying to break a tree-trunk in two with his bare hands. The trunk trapped him, and he was eaten by wolves. Fellow champion Polydamas died after trying to hold up the roof of a cave during an earthquake.

2. Wrestling is technically the last remaining Olympic sport in which competitors are required to be amateur in order to compete.

Artem Surkov, of Russia, in red, is taken down by Migran Arutyunyan, of Armenia (John Locher/AP)
(L-R) Armenia's Migran Arutyunyan and Russia's Artem Surkov (John Locher/AP)

Over the years this ruling has robbed Olympic wrestling of potential superstars such as the 7ft 4ins Andre the Giant (representing France), The Undertaker (US) and of course Giant Haystacks, who would have made a commendable addition to Team GB.

3. Strict rules maintaining a wrestler must defeat his opponent to claim victory led to marathon matches in the early modern Games.

Ben Provisor celebrates after beating Jacob Clark (Charlie Neibergall/AP)
(L-R) US' Ben Provisor and Jacob Clark (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

In 1912, Russian Martin Klein took 11 hours and 40 minutes to defeat Alppo Asikainen of Finland, and was then too tired to contest the gold medal match.

4. Wrestling may seem an unlikely purveyor of world peace...

(Vahid Salemi/AP)
(L-R) U.S. Wrestling executive director Rich Bender and President of Iran's National Olympic Committee Mohammad Aliabadi shake hands in 2013 (Vahid Salemi/AP)

... but the sport succeeded in bringing the US and Iran together in protest in 2013 when the International Olympic Committee recommended dropping the sport from the Games. "Wrestling has brought closer the people of Iran and the US," insisted the US Wrestling coach Zeke Jones.

5. Women's wrestling first appeared in the 2004 Games.

mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey (Jae C. Hong/AP)
US' Ronda Rousey (Jae C. Hong/AP)

American Sara McMann, who won a silver medal in the 63kg category, later became an active member of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and was controversially beaten by Ronda Rousey for the UFC women's bantamweight title at UFC 170. Twelve years on from her Olympic achievement, she remains an active part of the UFC organisation.