Women's Wrestling History

   I bet that many of you accessing the pages of this website figure that women's wrestling is a recent phenomenon, first brought about by emancipation, then by the public's increasing need for sports entertainment involving females. That assumption however is just plain wrong. Women have been wrestling ever since the dawn of civilization apparently, so ladies' wrestling is as normal and natural an activity as any combat sport involving males.

Before we delve any deeper into the matter at hand, let me specify one thing: this website is about female wrestling, not about other combat sports involving women. Therefore, our historical retrospective shall be one solely focused on ladies wrestling and nothing more. We do realize ladies' combat activities have been diverse, but we do not care for sword- and fist fights, so please don't chastise us for being inaccurate on account of not covering those aspects.

   As I said above, the history of women's wrestling is a much longer one than most would suspect. Actual accounts of ladies wrestling in a sports-like manner (for entertainment/physical fitness and not with the intention of hurting the opponent) stretch as far back as ancient Greece.
Many historical accounts mention the fact that wrestling in Sparta was as normal an activity for women as it was for the boys. Girls wrestled other girls, and apparently boys too, in various displays of physical prowess. spartan wrestling

Exactly how accurate accounts describing Spartan ladies' wrestling were, remains unclear, as most of the paintings/drawings depicting such activities were not created by contemporaries, but rather by artists (like Emannuel Croise who completed the painting in the attached pic in 1903), much later, whose creative female wrestling spartaspirits have most probably distorted reality quite a bit ' probably in an idyllic manner too. What is kind of unclear is the purpose behind these female wrestling bouts. Some say Spartan women wrestled to strengthen their bodies for child-bearing, others say their wrestling was all part of an intricate "mating ritual". Still others say the women competed just like men as part of their everyday existence. The bottom line is, ancient Spartan women wrestled, and while women belonging to other Greek city-states may not have followed suit, their example is enough to confirm that women's wrestling as a sport did indeed exist in ancient times. Other evidence seems to point to the fact that female combat was much more wide-spread than the Spartan example may make one assume. As a matter of fact, rather than an exception, the Spartan example was more of a rule apparently. While there may not be many accounts of ladies' wrestling from other, "civilized" ancient peoples, there seem to be plenty of examples of tribal female wrestling to this very day.

female wrestling sudan   The tribes of Southern Sudan and Nubia represent an excellent example in this respect. Men, women as well as young boys and girls wrestled as part of a ceremonial initiation, until not too long ago ' buck naked. The ritual was some kind of celebration of physical perfection and health as well as an opportunity for various tribes to show their supremacy over others in a peaceful way.

For the Xinguano tribes of the Amazon Basin, ceremonial female wrestling is till very much a reality today. Both males and females complete in a series of athletic events once a year, events including tug-of-war and huka-huka wrestling. As a cast of a Brazilian TV station, and the supermodels/celebrities accompanying them found out, the Xinguano women were indeed quite adept at the sport, as not a single one of the celebs managed to win a single bout against any of the local ladies.
These two examples are just a few off a long list. Traditional, "tribal" women's wrestling exists in various European countries as well. Most such ritual wrestling is merely about throwing the opponent onto the ground, taking her off her feet.

sideshow wrestling   Ladies wrestling as entertainment has only begun to surface in the latter part of the 19th century, although in the beginning it was mainly relegated to a sideshow attraction status. Lady wrestlers travelled fairs and they offered to wrestle challengers from the audience for money, yes, sometimes even males. I must admit I'm not particularly fond of the sideshow days of the sport, when female wrestlers were displayed next to the bearded lady and the 3-legged midget. Back in those days, wrestling ladies often performed feats of strength as well, in the true spirit of the sideshow. Like it or not, it was during those days that ladies wrestling began to outgrow the occasional sideshow entertainment status, with the appearance of the first lady wrestling champions and title feuds. female wrestling 20th

   The early and middle part of the 20th century was when women's wrestling cemented its status as a true crowd-pleaser of an entertainment pehnomenon. To this day, depending on the quality of the show and the skill of the ladies involved, female wrestling matches can take the form of lousy, cheap and degrading spectacles of decadence. If true lady athletes are involved though and if the event is never meant to appear cheap and degrading, we have ladies wrestling at its very best.

From the sideshow era, ladies wrestling branched out into two distinct directions. One, ladies professional wrestling ' which this website is mainly focused on ' stayed true to its sideshow origins. Even though organizations such as WOW, GLOW, WWF, and lately WWE and TNA, have elevated ladies bouts from mere county-fair attractions, pushing them into the mainstream pop-culture, lady wrestlers still perform at fairs (though they don't quite accept challenges from the public anymore).jade vs nikki
With the advent of the internet, hundreds of small private operations promoting ladies wrestling have sprung up too.
An example in this sense would be the now defunct pindowngirls.com, ran by a couple who used the company to round up their family budget. Other such operations still exist by the tens, possibly hundreds, focusing and specializing on various aspects of the sport (realism, good kayfabe, outfits, mud, oil, shaving foam, jello etc).

women wrestlers   The other direction the sport has branched out was the road to full legitimacy and competitiveness. In case you haven't heard about it: women's freestyle wrestling has been an Olympic sport since the last edition of the Games. More and more females wrestle on various levels (high-school and collegiate) and more and more of them get to experience the possibilities and the new horizons opened up by this wonderful sport.