History of United World Wrestling
The first International Federation for the development of wrestling and weight lifting was created in Duisburg in 1905 by the Deutsche Athleten-Verband (DAV). A committee was then created, made up by the following members: Mr. Monticelli (ITA), the brothers van Elst (NED), Mr. Koettgen (GER) and Mr. Stolz (GER). The goal of the Federation was to set in order the organisation of the World Championships.
The first International Wrestlers’ Union (Internationaler Ring Verband) was created on the eve of the Olympic Games in Stockholm in 1912. The organising committee of the Olympic Games entrusted the Swedish Athletics Federation with the organisation of a congress to draw up the statutes and the rules of an international governing body. Two Hungarians were temporarily elected : Dr. Péter Tatits as President and Mr. Mor Csanádi as Secretary General. It was decided that the first congress of the International Wrestlers’ Union would take place in Berlin in 1913. The designation of “First Congress” was a mere formality, since the constituent congress of the Wrestler’s Union had already taken place in Stockholm.
The congress in Berlin took place from June 5th to June 9th, 1913 and the delegates from the following countries participated : Germany, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Hungary, Austria, Bohemia and Great Britain. The International Wrestlers’ Union became the International Union of Heavy Athletics (Internationaler Amateur Verband für Schwerathletik) and was responsible for the development of wrestling (Greco-roman style), boxing, weightlifting, rope wrestling and weight throw. German was adopted as the official language. The length of wrestling matches was set to twenty minutes, with a one-minute break. A board was established, whose members were appointed as follows : President, Dr. Péter Tatits (HUN); Vice-presidents, Mr. R. Preuss (GER) and Mr. Mor Csanádi (HUN); Secretaries, Mr. James Borg (SWE) and Mr. F. Koller (AUT) and Members, Mr. J. Lindstedt (FIN), Mr. A.R. Nielsen (DEN), Mr. P. Longhurst (GBR), Mr. R. Schwindler (Bohemia) and Mr. L. Zsaplinsky (RUS).
Creation of IAWF
During the Antwerp Olympic Games in 1920, the IOC recommended the creation of independent Federations for each sport. The International Amateur Wrestling Federation (IAWF) was thus created during the IOC Olympic Congress in Lausanne in 1921. The statutes of nineteen National Federations and those of IAWF were approved on that occasion. Mr. Einar Raberg, Swedish official and former wrestler, was elected President. English was adopted as the official language. The new Federation assumed the responsibility of promoting the two wrestling styles and made some corrections to the existing rules. Greco-Roman World championships were organised in Helsinki (1921) and in Stockholm (1922). The creation of IAWF legitimized wrestling towards the IOC, the National Olympic Committees, the National Wrestling Federations, the governmental and non-governmental organisations and the public opinion around the world.
In 1924, Einar Raberg resigned and was replaced by the Hungarian Alfred Brüll, who stayed until 1929, date in which the Finnish Viktor Smeds was elected. In 1946, Viktor Smeds convened a congress in Stockholm and some new members were elected : Mr. Roger Coulon (FRA) as Secretary General, treasurer and technical director, Mr. Vehbi Emre (TUR), Mr. Per Tamm (SWE) and Mr. Streit Jr. (USA) as Vice-presidents, Mr. Ratib (EGY), Mr. Himberg (FIN), Mr. Perrel (NED), Mr. Cortenbosch (BEL), Mr. Mackenzie (GBR) and Mr. Salvatorelli (ITA) as Bureau Members. From this date, the IAWF began to work very actively. New rules were adopted and Roger Coulon organised the first referees’ course in Paris in 1957.
Structuring of FILA
In 1952, Roger Coulon was elected FILA President and renamed the Federation: International Federation of Amateur Wrestling during the congress in Tokyo in 1954. During the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956, new FILA board members were elected : Mr. Vehbi Emre (TUR), Mr. Arvo Himberg (FIN), Mr. M. Mackenzie (GBR), Mr. Ichiro Hatta (JPN), Mr. A. Katouline (URS), Mr. Albert de Ferrari (USA), Mr. Mihaly Matura (HUN), Mr. Anselmo Baficio (ITA), Mr. M. Ratib (EGY), Mr. Per Strömbäck (SWE), Mr. Jules Perrel (NED), Mr. M. Pascal (FRA), Mr. Milan Ercegan (YUG) and Mr. M. Hergl (GER). In 1965, Mr. Coulon moved the FILA headquarters to Lausanne and made FILA the first International Federation to settle in the Olympic capital. In 1967, Roger Coulon created the GAISF (General Association of International Sports Federations) to allow International Federations to better communicate and control the evolution of the international sports movement.
During the sixties, FILA showed creativity in several fields and especially in its organisation. A certain improvement was noticed in the exchange of information with the National Federations : the FILA Bulletin started coming out, the wrestlers’ licences were introduced and a good qualification system for the referees was set up. Under the direction of Mr. Milan Ercegan, Secretary General of FILA, educational videos for referees were first produced.
After President Coulon’s death in 1971, Secretary General Mr. Milan Ercegan was appointed temporary President and was elected FILA President through a voice vote during the congress in Munich in 1972. He published the first book for coaches (Theory and Practice of Wrestling) in 1973 and organised the following year the first coaches’ course in Dubrovnik. He also created the Advanced School for Coaches in 1974. During his 30 years of presidency, numerous works were published, notably the three major books from Bulgarian Professor Raïko Petrov : Olympic Wrestling throughout the Millennia (1993), 100 Years of Olympic Wrestling (1997) and The Roots of Wrestling (2000). In 1994, FILA was renamed International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles after it broadened to other wrestling styles. Thanks to its programmes, Milan Ercegan opened some new perspectives to the promotion of wrestling. He started the ‘FILA Golden Plan’ whose goal was to provide technical assistance for developing countries. At the end of his term in 2002, about a hundred wrestling mats and a considerable number of books, magazines, videos and other pedagogic tools were distributed for free to National Federations. During this period, FILA introduced new competitions to its calendar (junior World Championships and cadet Continental Championships) and Mr. Ercegan revolutionized the world of wrestling by admitting female wrestling as a full-fledged discipline within FILA and the National Federations.
New World of Wrestling
In 2002, FILA entered a new era with the election of its new President, Mr. Raphaël Martinetti (SUI), Bureau Member since 1980 and Vice-president responsible for the Refereeing Department since 1986. Since his election, President Martinetti has worked under the slogan “Welcome to the New World of Wrestling” and has set up a strategy of modernisation to promote wrestling around the globe. To this day, the activities that have been undertaken or are being undertaken are :
- The creation of a website and email addresses for all National Federations affiliated, so that all FILA members can communicate effectively.
- The introduction of female wrestling to the Olympic programme and the consolidation of Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling by seriously amending their rules.
- The setup of a professional structure for the organisation of the World and European Championships.
- The signature of numerous TV contracts to effectively broadcast wrestling around the world and the broadcasting of the main Championships via the FILA web TV.
- The setup of FILA continental training centres in Thiès (SEN) for the African continent, in Sofia (BUL) for the European continent, and in Doha (QAT) for the Asian continent. The centre for the American continent is under construction and, in the meantime, Cuba operates as the training centre for this continent. FILA also financed the centre for traditional wrestling in Niamey (NIG).
- The setup of the Master degree programme to allow a gradual and progressive learning of wrestling outside the constraint of competition.
- The moving of the FILA headquarters to optimally fulfil its role towards its National Federations.
- The creation of World Committees to manage non-Olympic styles affiliated to FILA such as Grappling, Pankration, and Belt Wrestling.