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Wrestling at the 1920 Antwerpen Summer Games

1920 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games ▪ Next Summer Games


Host City: Antwerpen, Belgium
Date Started: August 16, 1920
Date Finished: August 27, 1920
Events: 10

Participants: 152 (152 men and 0 women) from 19 countries
Youngest Participant: ITA Giuseppe Gorletti (18 years, 354 days)
Oldest Participant: FIN Adolf Lindfors (41 years, 189 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 31 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): FIN Finland (12 medals)


Wrestling consisted of both Greco-Roman and Catch-as-Catch-Can styles. This was the second time that two styles had been contested at one Olympics, the first being in 1908 when both styles were also held at London. Catch-as-Catch-Can is a style similar to Freestyle that is now contested in the Olympics.

Greco-Roman matches were fought first with the Catch-as-Catch-Can matches following at the end of the next week. The tournaments were contested as single elimination with special elimination tournaments for second and place via the Bergvall System. All wrestlers who lost to the eventual champion were eligible to wrestle for second place. At that point, all wrestlers who had lost to the runner-up wrestled in another tournament for third place.

In Greco-Roman initially, the matches were two rounds of 10 minutes each, and one had to win by fall in the first two rounds. If nobody achieved a fall, another 20 minutes were contested and a decision was then possible. In a few cases, extra rounds of 10 further minutes were added. After the first day, the organizers realized they had to shorten the matches so they were converted to one round of 10 minutes (win by fall necessary) and an 15-minute overtime, with a decision possible.

In Catch-as-Catch-Can, the matches were one round of 10 minutes, except for the final matches, which were best of three bouts of 10 minutes duration each.

Wrestling world championships were first contested in Greco-Roman in 1904. The last one contested was in 1913 in Breslau, Germany. However, the Inter-Allied Games in 1919 had been held in Paris and wrestling events were on that program. Thus, there was some justification in choosing favorites despite the absence of international competition from 1913-1918. World championships were also contested later in 1920 in Greco-Roman. They were held at Vienna in early September. Oddly, only one Olympic competitor competed at the world championships, and vice-versa. However, closer examination of the 1920 “World Championships” reveals that all but one of the wrestlers at Vienna were from Germany, Austria, and Hungary. These were three countries that were not invited to the 1920 Olympics because they had been “aggressor nations” during World War I.