Difference between Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling

One of the major differences between the two styles is that in Greco-Roman wrestling, a competitor cannot hold his opponent below the waist.

Chile's Yasmani Acosta Fernandez, left, compete's against Georgia's Lakobi Kajaia during the semifinal round of men's 130kg Greco-Roman wrestling match at the 2020 Summer Olympics.   -  AP

What’s the difference between freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling? India doesn't have a Greco-Roman representative in Tokyo, but the country's hopes ride on freestyle wrestling. 

One of the major differences between the two styles is that in Greco-Roman wrestling, a competitor cannot hold his opponent below the waist. He can use his torso and body to take down the opponent and cannot use his legs for defensive or attacking purposes. So, the emphasis is more on throws.

In freestyle wrestling, which is also followed in the women’s division, a competitor can hold a rival below the waist and employ leg attacks.

The techniques and strategies in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling vary due to this basic difference.

The scoring also varies in both styles. Here is an example: a freestyle wrestler leading by at least 10-0 margin is declared the winner by technical superiority, while in Greco-Roman, an 8-0 margin is enough for such a win. There are other variations in the scoring pattern of both styles.

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Both styles in Olympics

From 1904 onwards, both freestyle and Greco-Roman styles have been included in all editions of the Olympics. There was no stipulation on wrestlers competing in both styles until the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, where competitions were held on the basis of quota places allocated in freestyle and Greco Roman styles through qualifying events for the first time. Women's freestyle wrestling made its debut at the Olympics in Athens in 2004.

Indian Greco-Roman wrestlers in Olympics

Indian wrestlers’ success in the Olympics has been restricted to freestyle. No Indian Greco-Roman wrestler qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Pappu Yadav represented India in the Greco-Roman style at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

So far, six Greco-Roman wrestlers – Pappu Yadav, Kaka Pawar, Ravinder Singh, Rajender Kumar, Dharmender Dalal and Sunil Rana – have got Arjuna awards. Malwa Singh, who competed in freestyle and Greco-Roman in the 1964 Olympics, was one of the earlier exponents of this style.

Sandeep Yadav is the only Indian Greco-Roman wrestler to win a World Championships medal. He later tested positive for a banned substance.

Sunil Kumar, the first Indian to win an Asian title in Greco-Roman wrestling after 27 years in 2020, is a leading name at present.

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