World’s oldest sports manual found, covers wrestling

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

Wrestling announcer Ed Aliverti often spiced up the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament by yelling that wrestling was "the world's oldest and greatest sport." Prints sold at wrestling events depict biblical figure Jacob wrestling an angel, and Abraham Lincoln engaged in his own wrestling match before becoming president. The sport has always been proud of the ancient origins of the sport.

Now, wrestling has proof of its long history, as researchers at Columbia University found an instructional manual on wrestling that dates back to 200 A.D. It was discovered in a dump in Egypt, and will now be kept at Columbia, which is also the home to the NCAA's oldest wrestling program. It is considered to be the oldest sports manual of any kind, and the only document that relates to the original Olympic games.

The manual shows that wrestling hasn't changed much over the years. Headlocks, underhooks, hand-fighting and how to fight out of a hold, concepts that are still important to wrestlers today, are all discussed.

Kerry McCoy, a two-time Olympian and the head coach at the University of Maryland, was delighted with the find.

"To find a coaching manual that dates to 200 A.D. just solidifies how important wrestling is, not just in American culture, but in world culture," said McCoy. "This is a sport built on core values that we need to keep in the forefront."

In the modern day, the U.S. recently finished with four medals at the world championships. Jordan Burroughs won gold, and the men's freestyle team finished in third place. As they look forward to the Olympics in 2012,  wrestling can be proud of its rich past.

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