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Friday, 7 June, 2002, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK

Getting to grips with wrestling

While wrestling owes its past to the earliest civilisation, its form at this summer's Commonwealth Games in Manchester, appropriately enough was shaped in the county of Lancashire.

Wrestling is thought to be the first sport known to man and, in ancient times, even saw men pitted against animals in combat.

Freestyle and Greco-Roman style are the two major forms of the sport, but athletes will compete in the freestyle only this summer.

That format is also known as the Lancashire or Catch-as-catch-can style.

It owes its origins to the miners of the county who created the contest for both competition and relaxation.

A spokesman for the British Wrestling Association explained: "Both freestyle and Greco-Roman are employed at the Olympics but only the freestyle will be at the Games.

Wrestling history
1904: Freestyle wrestling debut at Olympic Games
1912: International Wrestling Federation formed
1969: British Amateur Wrestling Association formed
1990/1998: Left out of Commonwealth Games

"The freestyle is a lot more groundwork compared to Greco-Roman."

Wrestling was not part of the Games four years ago in Kuala Lumpur - it was only the second time since 1930 that the sport had been omitted from the Games.

But at this year's Games a total of seven gold medals will be available at weights ranging from 55 to 120kgs.

Equipment is basic in the sport with competitors wearing boots and a gym vest.

Victory can be achieved in three ways: by fall, points and default.

For the fall, an opponent must be thrown or turned on his back and kept with his shoulders flat on the ground for at least one second.

A wrestler wins on points when he has a 10-point advantage over his opponent.

And finally a default victory comes when an opponent is either forced to retire due to injury or is disqualified.

Each contest lasts just six minutes - in three periods of two minutes.

If there is no winner by the end of the six minutes, the person with the most points, as long as it is three or more, is the winner. If the scores are level, overtime is played.

Points are awarded for a variety of holds and actions and they range from one to five.

In its most basic terms, one point is handed out for taking an opponent to the mat in control and holding an opponent with their shoulders exposed to the mat for five seconds.

Two points will be awarded for turning an opponent's shoulders to the mat, while lifting an opponent off the ground and dumping them torwards their backs is worth three points.

Five points are scored from a high throw which lands the opponent in a danger position.

One of the leading contenders this summer will be Daniel Igali. The Nigerian-born wrestler was world champion in 1999 and took gold in Sydney two years ago for Canada.

Home hopes will be led by John Melling in the 66kg class.


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