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National Kiss a Wrestler Day

Getting too close to a wrestler may be dangerous. One moment you are standing upright, and the next you are lying on the floor. Boom! They used a single-leg takedown on you and you didn't even see it coming. Despite the precariousness of cozying up to a wrestler, it's appropriate to do it today, because it's National Kiss a Wrestler Day. There's no consensus on how this holiday busted open, but there is some speculation that it's connected to a World Championship Wrestling (WCW) promotion that involved rock band KISS and a wrestler named Demon, which unceremoniously flopped at the turn of the century.

There are a number of styles of wrestling. Generally, competitors attempt to force their opponents to the ground and into a certain position, and then hold them in that position. Wrestling is the world's oldest sport and is found all around it. Wrestling likely derived from hand-to-hand combat, and was an important sport for ancient Greeks, eventually becoming part of the Olympic Games in 776 BCE. It spread when mercenary Turks, hired by Persian rulers around 800 BCE, brought their loose wrestling style called koresh to new lands. With the Turks' eventual control of the Muslim world, wrestling gained a wide foothold. Later, Mongolian wrestling came to Iran, and Sumo wrestling became popular in Japan. Europe in the Middle Ages had several wrestling styles.

Beginning in the eighteenth century, wrestlers were staples in theaters, circuses, and fairs in Europe. In the United States, wrestling became a popular frontier sport. International wrestling in the second half of the nineteenth century was dominated by Greco-Roman wrestling and catch-as-catch-can wrestling, as well as related freestyle wrestling.

Greco-Roman wrestling was popularized in France and was named as such because it was believed to be similar to the wrestling of ancient times. For this style, holds are made above the waist, and wrapping legs around an opponent is forbidden when going to the ground. Catch-as-catch-can wrestling was popularized in Great Britain and the United States. It permits holds above the waist, as well as leg grips, and is won by a pinfall. Freestyle wrestling—or international freestyle—is a form of catch-as-catch-can that uses a touch fall instead of a pinfall, which is also used in Greco-Roman wrestling.

In twentieth-century America, professional wrestling lost out to boxing in the fight for popularity, and no longer remained a serious professional sport, instead becoming a spectacle. Winners and losers were determined by promoters, not by the wrestlers' skills, and were cast as heroes and villains for their audience to cheer for. Wrestling moves became more extravagant and artificial. One form of this wrestling is lucha libre. Associated with Mexico, it is known for its colorful masks and aerial moves.

While professional wrestling became performative, amateur wrestling remained a competitive sport. It has not been without changes, however. Weight divisions developed, three-minute rounds became the standard, and a points system based on when a wrestler controls a match came about, where draws were all but eliminated. While no kissing of wrestlers is allowed in professional or amateur wrestling, National Kiss a Wrestler Day bends these rules, and kissing is permitted, if only for a day.

How to Observe National Kiss a Wrestler Day

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