All Of Your Greco Roman Wrestling Questions Answered!

What Is Greco Roman Wrestling?

Greco Roman wrestling is a style of grappling where 2 athletes attempt to take each other down by only using upper body techniques. In Greco Roman touching the legs is forbidden. This style of wrestling is in the Olympics and only practiced by men.

If you are new to wrestling there are 3 main styles of wrestling:

  • Folkstyle – Exclusively practiced in America and only trained in school and college. It allows both upper body and lower body attacks but places significance on mat wrestling through rewarding escapes, having riding time, and near-fall points.
  • Freestyle – Most similar to folkstyle and is heavily focused on leg attacks such as single and double leg techniques. However, mat wrestling is only a small aspect of the sport that is different from folkstyle as athletes only have around 10 seconds to pin or turn their opponent before the ref stops the action and the wrestlers stand back up.
  • Greco Roman – Greco Roman only allows upper body attacks. Wrestlers are forbidden from touching the legs which results in athletes standing straight up. The mat wrestling is similar to freestyle.

In this article, we are going to explore the origins of Greco Roman wrestling and break down the basics of the sport so the next time someone brings up wrestling you can act as an authority on the subject. Let’s get started!

Is Greco Roman Wrestling French?

Greco Roman wrestling is not from Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome. This style of wrestling is French and was created by Napoleonic solider, Jean Exbrayat who invented the sport in the 1800s. Ancient Greek and Roman wrestling was significantly different and included submissions.

The origin of Greco-Roman wrestling is quite interesting. When most hear the name Greco Roman they assume the sport originated in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome but nothing could be further from the truth.

Greco Roman wrestling was actually created in the mid-1800s by a French soldier, Jean Exbrayat who took existing folk French wrestling styles and modified the rules to create the modern sport of Greco.

While the Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Romans were very fond of wrestling their style of grappling was very different than Greco Roman and actually involved submissions such as chokes and joint locks.

How Do You Score In Greco Roman Wrestling?

In Greco Roman wrestling you score by taking your opponent from the standing position down to the mat, rolling their shoulders over the mat, or by pinning the shoulders on the mat. A pin is an automatic win, a standard takedown is 2 points while a big throw is 4 or 5 points.

Greco Roman wrestling is all about picking your opponent up and launching them through the air. Greco Roman is home to the suplex and is where you see some of the craziest throws imaginable.

In Greco wrestling the bigger the throw the more points you earn. If you throw someone through the air with big amplitude and they land on their back you get 5 points.

If you throw them with big amplitude but they don’t land on their back you can score 4 points and if you throw them with small to medium amplitude and they land on their back you can also score 4 points.

A 2 point takedown is awarded when there is small to no amplitude and your opponent doesn’t on their back.

The other way to earn points is in par terre also known as mat wrestling. Again if you throw your opponent with amplitude you can earn 4 or 5 points.

If you roll your opponent over their shoulders you will receive 2 points. And if you hold your opponent on their shoulders for a pin you instantly win.

Check Out Some Crazy Greco Roman Throws Below!

Can You Shoot In Greco Roman Wrestling?

You can shoot in Greco Roman wrestling however you can not touch your opponent’s legs. Some Greco Roman athletes will shoot and then lock their arms around their opponent’s waist. Shooting is not a popular entry to takedowns in Greco Roman, most athletes work from drags and underhooks/overhooks.

Shooting is not popular in Greco Roman as you are forbidden to touch the legs and athletes stand with their elbows tucked defending their body.

However, sometimes you will athletes shooting or going for a super duck into a technique called a high dive. A high dive is similar to a double leg but instead of wrapping around the legs, you wrap your arms around the opponent’s waist.

You can finish a high dive similar to a blast double drive your opponents backward and to the mat. You don’t see this technique very often because it is hard to wrap around the waist of a Greco Roman wrestler who has his arms ready to block you.

It is better to enter the high dive position from an arm drag or throw by which allows you to clear your opponent’s arms and gives you a free shot at their body.

Who Is The Greatest Greco Wrestler Of All Time?

The greatest Greco wrestler of all time is Alexander Karelin who won 2 Olympic gold medals, 1 silver, 9 world championship golds, and had a record of 887 wins and 2 losses. 
The second-best Greco wrestler of all time is Mijain Lopez who won 3 Olympic gold medals and his most recent at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the age of 39! The giant Cuban who is 6ft6 and weighs 130kg has also won 5 world championships and 3 world silver medals!
Some critics argue Mijain Lopez is now the number 1 Greco Roman wrestler of all time thanks to his 3rd Olympic gold medal, a feat that Alexander Karelin failed to achieve. However, Mijain has significantly fewer world titles than Karelin and has lost a lot more matches. Most Greco-Roman wrestling fans still have Karelin as the GOAT!

Which Country Is The Best At Greco Roman Wrestling?

The best countries at Greco Roman wrestling are Russia, Cuba, Iran, Georgia, and Turkey. The second tier of countries includes Germany, Kazakhstan, Japan, and Armenia. The US has struggled to win medals at international Greco Roman tournaments.
Russia is the undisputed best country at Greco Roman wrestling and has won the team title at the last 5 world championships going back to 2015.
2014 is the last time Russia didn’t win the Greco Roman team title where they narrowly lost to Iran. Iran is currently the second-best Greco Roman wrestling country they are consistently placing in the top 5 year after year at the world championships.
In 2017 Iran placed 3rd at the world championships, 2019 they were 4th and in 2015 they were 4th.
The other teams that are close to Iran and some would argue are better are Turkey, Cuba, and Georgia. All of these countries produce world medalists every year and are always in the hunt for the team title.
Cuba put the world on notice with its performance at the 2020 Olympics where they managed to win 2 gold medals. And Mijain Lopez became an all-time great by winning his 3rd Greco Roman Olympic gold medal!
Georgia also has a strong Greco Roman wrestling team and managed to win 2 gold medals at the 2019 world championships.
Turkey is another Greco Roman wrestling powerhouse led by Riza Kayaalp who is a 4-time world champion and 3 times Olympic medalist (2 silvers and a bronze).
At the other end of the spectrum is the US. While the US is now up there with Russia in freestyle wrestling and has produced champion after champion they have been terrible at Greco Roman wrestling for a long time.
America hasn’t won an Olympic Greco Roman wrestling medal since 2008 and a gold medal since 2000.

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