Olympic wrestling can't match the professional variety for theatricality, charisma or sheer testosterone, but at least it is credible. Both Greco- Roman wrestling and freestyle, which arose in the 19th century, demand an unusually high pain threshold.
The superstar of this sport is Russian super-heavyweight Alexander Karelin, who will be trying to win a fourth Olympic gold medal, extend a 13-year unbeaten record, and prolong the record seven-year run during which he has not conceded a point. His chief rival will be Rulon Gardner of the U.S.
One of the more enticing match-ups is at 63 kg, between Ukrainian world champion Elbrus Tedeyev and Korea's Jang Jae-sung (bronze and silver medalists respectively at Atlanta). At 130 kg, Kerry McCoy headlines an American freestyle team that is justifiably confident of winning a bunch of medals.
WHEN TO WATCH
- 54, 63, 76, 97kg Sept. 26
- 58, 69, 85, 130kg Sept. 27
- 54, 63, 76, 97kg Sept. 30
- 58, 69, 85, 130kg Oct. 1