Mesopotamian cave drawings dated 3,000 B.C. depict figures grappling in wrestling holds; tombs in the Ancient Egyptian cemetery Beni Hassan are embellished with what appears to be tutorials on wrestling moves. This weaponless combat may be the oldest sport known to man.
Wrestling developed as a competitive sport in Ancient Greece, a civilization that prized physical fitness. Boys were educated in the sport and it was essential in their military training. Wrestling competitions were a featured event of the Ancient Greek Olympics, with matches held on the final days of the games as the ultimate competition. p>
The first recorded Olympic wrestling match was is 708 B.C. with two variations on the game: Kato Pale, or ground wrestling, and Orthia Pale, upright wrestling. In Kato Pale, competitors battled until one conceded by raising his arm and extending an index finger. Orthia Pale gave the win to the contestant that successfully threw down an opponent three times.
These early matches had no weight classifications and few rules – no punching, tripping, biting or gouging. Competitors were coated with olive oil and then dusted with powder for easier gripping. The Ancient Romans adopted the Greek form of wrestling which has since evolved into the Greco-Roman style we recognize today.