Dom Joly: Full body hair (front and back) is a must for ancient grappling art

Everything you need to know... and some you don't... about Greco-Roman wrestling
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The Independent Online

A brief history and explanation of Greco-Roman wrestling.

Greco-Roman wrestling is the world's oldest-known sport. Yet most Brits don't seem to have much of a clue about it. Fortunately, help is at hand. In every venue is a "media lounge" andthese provide the lazy, or ignorant, journalist with more than enoughinformation with which to write a very goodarticle. I popped in to see a couple of bouts and found this leaflet invaluable. I attach it below to give you, the reader, the same kind of insight that we top sports journalists get... it's only fair.


1. Only countries that end in "an" or "a" are eligible to take part in the sport.

2. Contestants must be shorter than 5ft 5in and have full body hair (front and back).

3. Contestants must at all times be accompanied, and regularly berated by a 300lb trainer who resembles an angry bear who has been caught trying on lady bear outfits by his best bear buddies.

4. Competing nations must organise and bring along a rowdy bunch of short, aggressive-looking spectators, preferably with some sort of shady military background. They will deal with any border infractions of the segregated seating areas.

5. Contestants must be able to ignore any abuse from hostile crowds as to how homo-erotic the whole affair is.


1. Contestants have to stand in a red and yellow target and then grapple with each other for prolonged periods of time while wearing very tight leotards.

2. Occasionally, a referee will stop the match, dip his hand in a black sack and pull out a coloured ball. If the colour of the ball matches your outfit, then your opponent must kneel on all fours in the central circle and you can attack him like a dog.

3. Contestants are discouraged, although not specifically banned from consuming copious amounts of garlic and onions for breakfast.

4. Contestants must feign complete indifference to circumstances when they find themselves in a "hold" that incorporates the opponent's hairy testicles being squashed against the contestant's face.

5. "Holds" can only be from the waist up so "wedgies" are illegal. Contestants opting to not wear pants must get consent of opponent.

6. Contestants are not permitted to use their goats at any time during the contest, except in the situation of a tie – then goats are allowed.

7. The flying of the Olympic flag is not intended as an affront to the integrity of any of the nations taking part. Flag burning is strictly illegal and will result in a forfeit of two fighting cocks.

8. Contestants must, under no circumstances- rip off their leotard, simulate the wiping of their anuses on said leotard and then shove in referee's face – the official's decision is always final.

9. No Australians allowed (hygiene ruling)

10. Contestants must be prepared for a random drug test – the so-called "cock in the pot." The tester will need actually to see the penis and is required by Olympic rules to check for prosthetics. Please do not take this personally, or as an affront to your manliness.


Greco-Roman wrestling has been popular somewhere since the dawn of time. Obviously, it was first made really popular by the Grecos and the Romans. They would regularly organise inter-Empire "meets", where contestants would wrestle with each other for periods of up to two months before a result was declared.

The sport became so popular in Greco that it was used to settle the equivalent of "gazumping". Were two buyers of a house to be in conflict they would wrestle for the property.

Under the reign of the Sun King Louis XIV, the sport was made illegal in France. Louis felt that the sport was far too sexually provocative and admitted that he "liked to watch it... almost too much". It was only re-legalised in France in 1976 after a submission to the Ministry of Justice by world famous mime and passionate wrestling fan, Marcel Marceau.

Oscar Wilde once went to a Greco-Roman bout at Yale while on a lecture tour of the USA. On leaving seven hours later, he remarked that sport had never really been his thing but if it was compulsory then "surely this must be the one".

Conspiracy theorists even believe that Greco-Roman wrestling rights might be behind the Russian invasion of Georgia. Russian hard-man Vladimir Putin is a keen Greco-Roman wrestler and there is a theory that the actual Russian objective is the Georgian training school in Gori, where they keep their training goats.

So there you are – everything you need to know to really enjoy this most... interesting of sports. It's a very long way away from the ludicrous TV spectacle that is the WWF, and Big Daddy would spin in his grave, but that's the real joy of the Olympics – if you look hard enough, there's something here for everyone.