Wrestling guide - London 2012 Olympic Games

Your complete guide to wrestling ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Photograph: Wrestling via Shutterstock

Converted: Sport at its most unpretentious, rugged and sensual.

Confused: Everyone knows this is all made up.

RECOMMENDED: See our full list of London 2012 Olympic sport guides

Wrestling - The essential guide

Street cred: Wrestling is all the rage with the kids but many fans might be disappointed to learn that Stone Cold Steve Austin will not be appearing at London 2012. And if he did, he’d get beaten up. This is proper wrestling.

Who’s good? Russia took six golds in Beijing 2008.

The basics: There are two types of Olympic wrestling: Greco-Roman, where athletes grapple with just arms and upper bodies, and Freestyle, where they can use pretty much any body part. The broad aim is to your force your opponent’s shoulders back onto the ground.

Athlete to watch: The fearsome Artur Taymazov, born in Ossetia and competing for Uzbekistan, is aiming for a third straight heavyweight gold.

Almost useless fact: The longest Olympic wrestling contest, between Russia’s Martin Klein and Finland’s Alfred Asikainen at the Stockholm 1912 Games, lasted 11 hours. Time limits were introduced a few years later.

As seen in: From Mickey Rourke’s ‘The Wrestler’ to Hulk Hogan’s ‘Mr Nanny’, amateur wrestling has been consistently overshadowed on the big screen by its professional counterpart.

Do say: ‘It’s at best ignorant and at worst insulting to continually confuse the circus of pro wrestling with this venerable sport.’

Don't say: ‘The Undertaker could beat all these guys.’