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Sport Overview

Wrestling may be the oldest sport in human history, but the action on the mat during competitions will show that it has lost none of its ferocity. In a contest of strength, skill, will and training, the combatants attempt to collect points by controlling their opponents with holds, grapples, throws and pins. Bouts are usually two or three periods of up to three minutes each, with the victorious wrestler being the first to win two rounds.

Pan Am wrestling features two styles. Freestyle wrestling is the younger of the two styles, tracing its origins back approximately two centuries. Athletes use their hands, arms and legs to fight their opponents, engaging with any part of their competitors’ bodies. Greco-Roman wrestling involves only the upper body on both offense and defense.

Freestyle wrestler Carol Huynh won gold in the 48 kg class at the Rio 2007 Pan Am Games and followed that up with an Olympic gold in Beijing the next year. Her success continued with another gold in Guadalajara in 2011 and a bronze in London in 2012.


While contested at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and the ancient Olympic Games of 776 BC, Greco-Roman wrestling is considered the oldest competitive sport in the world with the discovery of cave drawings depicting wrestlers from 3000 BC.

Freestyle wrestling, on the other hand, is said to have originated in Great Britain and the United States in the early 19th century.

How it works

Only arms and upper bodies can be used and held in Greco-Roman wrestling. The objective is to force the back of the opponent’s shoulders to the mat. Bouts are made up of a maximum of two periods; each period can last up to three minutes. Points are awarded based the degree of technical difficulty for the hold. The first wrestler to win two rounds wins the bout.

In freestyle wrestling, wrestlers can also use their legs and hold their opponents above or below the waist.


A wrestler’s arched position to avoid having his/her back touching the mat.

Pin (or fall)
When an opponent’s shoulders are forced to the mat.

Additional Information

Additional Information