Olympic wresting was considered the main event of the ancient Olympic games. In recent history, it has been seen as just one of many games being played. The rules have changed some over the years, but it is in many ways the same game it was thousands of years ago. There have been a few superstars of the game, but waning interest in the game has diminished their significance.
Like many Olympic sports, Olympic wrestling originated from the Ancient Greeks. It was the big event for the ancient Olympic games, but will not be seen with the same significance for in the London 2012 Olympics. It was a thinking man's sport, so it worked well with the philosophical nature of the ancient Greeks. It was also the preferred sport of the gods. In ancient Greece, it was more of a freestyle sport than the well regulated sport full of rules that it is now.
In the ancient Olympics, the two players were covered in oil. They would grapple with each other until one was able to knock the other over. The basic rules of how to score in wrestling is the same now as in ancient times. You must overpower your opponent. The scoring system is fairly dynamic now, though. You can gain points from doing things right, like a take down. You can even get points when your opponent does something wrong, like an illegal hold. Points are ranked between one and five, a five given for something great like a full take down. When one competitor has six more points that the other, he is declared the victor.
There are also a lot of regulations about small things in Olympic wrestling. These little things can make a big difference in a fight, though. An example is no metal in one's shoes and having your shoelaces taped. A competitor must either be clean shaven or have a full beard so that a beard stubble cannot be used to scratch an opponent. Wrestlers must enter the ring completely dry, with no sweat or petroleum jelly that would make their body slippery. This is the opposite of how it was in Ancient Greece.
There have been a few notable players throughout the history of Olympic wrestling. The first was Plato. Many Plato fans didn't know that he was an agile competitor. He also had the wit to outmaneuver any competitor. The next great wresting hero came in 1896 when the Olympics were resurrected. Carl Schhumann was a 5'4" German wrestler. At the time, they did not divide wrestlers by weight, so he was up against the biggest guys around. He won the gold for wrestling and took three gold metals in gymnastics that year. There have not been a lot of Olympic superstars since then, since wrestling really hasn't gained much popularity. One of America's victors was Dan Gable, who won the gold in 1972 in Munich. He went on to coach a plethora of other wrestling champions. In 2004, the rules of wrestling were bent enough to allow women into the Olympic sport. There are so far no female favorites for the London 2010 Olympics, but only time will tell.