In the late 1800s, a folk style of wrestling called Lancashire catch-as-catch-can wrestling was created by local coal miners in Wigan, Lancashire County in England. From there, catch-as-catch-can wrestling spawned freestyle wrestling, collegiate wrestling, shootwrestling and catch wrestling. Catch wrestling also finds its roots in Irish collar-and-elbow, Greco Roman, Varzesh-e Pahlaviani (Iranian wrestling) and Pehlwani Indian wrestling.
Catch wrestling became popular in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Carnivals hosted “athletic shows” that would pit carnival wrestlers against the locals. If the opponent could defeat the strongman by a pin or submission, he would win a cash prize. The traveling wrestlers developed concession holds, or “hooks,” to defeat their challengers. The wrestlers would stretch and crank their opponents, making them shout “uncle.” Hooking your opponent as quickly as possible was and still is the name of the game in catch wrestling.
Catch wrestling includes many techniques, including hand strikes, kicks, takedowns, sweeps, gouges, arm locks, leg locks, torso cranks, neck cranks, chokes and rips. Most techniques can take place standing up or on the ground.
– October 11, 2011