Four Combat Sports to keep an eye out for in the Olympics

Published on 30 May 2024 at 20:00

The Olympics is one of the most iconic sporting events in history, with many spectators commonly watching sports such as Swimming, Athletics and Gymnastics. Despite only having a few Combat Sports featured in the Olympics, they show non-stop action and entertainment. Here are the four Combat Sports you should look out for whilst watching this prestigious event held in Paris.


Boxing made its first appearance in the 1904 Olympics, as a men's event, which would see different participants compete in; Flyweight, Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight, and Heavyweight divisions before adding other weight classes which would either carry on or discontinue. It wouldn't be until 1948 in which the losers of the semi-finals would compete for a bronze medal.

Women's boxing events would be introduced into the 2012 Olympics for the first time, adding six weight classes to see a variety of different fighters.

The International Boxing Association (IBA) would not allow professional boxers to compete in the Olympics until 2016 as the competitors would only be amateurs or state-funded boxers.

Many of the greatest boxers have earned gold medals at the Olympics, such as; Oscar De La Hoya, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Oleksandr Usyk, Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua.

Only two female boxers have won a gold medal twice in this iconic event, both Nicola Adams and Claressa Shields struck gold in the London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics.

The Unites States have won the most gold medals in Boxing with a total of 50 as well as total medals which rounds up to 117. Cuba are second with 41 gold medals won and an overall total of 78 medals in Boxing. Great Britain are in the top three with 20 gold out of a total of 62 medals.

With the sport being arguably the most popular in the Combat Sports industry, it will be unsurprising for plenty of spectators to watch constant non-stop action along with some crazy knockouts. 


Judo was first introduced in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo 1964 as the first weight classes for this event would be the Lightweight, Middleweight and Heavyweight division. It was a Japanese takeover in Judo during the Tokyo 1964 Olympics as Takehide Nakatani, Isao Okano and Isao Inokuma would all win gold in their respected weight class.

Women's Judo would first appear in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics with six different weight classes to compete in. 

In the 2020 Olympic Games, a mixed team event would happen for the first time which would see six different athletes, three men and three women, competing in a different weight class with six individual bouts produced. The first team to win a Judo mixed team event were France as they defeated Japan in the final, along with Germany and Israel taking a bronze medal.

Some of the greatest Judokas include French internationals, Teddy Riner and David Douillet, who won two gold medals each. Tadahiro Nomura has won the most gold medals in Judo with a total of three, earning them consecutively in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens.

One female Judoka that stands out in the Olympics is Kayla Harrison as she is a two-time Olympic gold medallist, winning in London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016. She now competes in MMA as she fights in the UFC Bantamweight division.

Japan are very dominant in the overall medal table, winning 48 golds out of 96 medals. France then follow second with 16 competitors winning gold out of 57 medals, while South Korea take the third spot with 11 golds out of 46 total medals.

Judo has gained a higher interest to the public since a variety of countries have been winning numerous medals, with everyone looking to see who can be at the top of their weight category, and defeat the best nation in the game, Japan.


Taekwondo started off as a demonstration sport during the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Olympics. It would then officially become a full medal sport in the Sydney 2000 Olympics which would introduce both men's and women's events in the sport with the same weight classes, Flyweight, Featherweight, Middleweight and Heavyweight.

Before the 2012 London Olympics, only a maximum of two men and two women could compete for their nation in a certain weight class. This restriction would be lifted before the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics as each National Olympic Committee could send one athlete per category in both men's and women's Taekwondo.

Women's Taekwondo witnessed quite a few earning two consecutive gold medals as Chinese nationals, Chen Zhong and Wu Jingyu, achieved this along with South Korea's fighter, Hwang Kyung-Seon, and Great Britain's own, Jade Jones. Milica Mandic is the only female Taekwondo fighter to have won two gold medals in the Olympics, but no consecutively. 

The most recognisable male Taekwondo stars to win gold in the Olympics include Steven Lopez from the USA and Hadi Saei from Iran as both men earned a gold medal in the Featherweight division and Middleweight division.

Ivory Coast's Cheick Sallah Cisse will be known to have one of the greatest wins in Taekwondo when he scored a head-kick in the final second of the match to beat Lutalo Muhammad and win gold in the Olympics.

South Korea are heavily dominant in the overall medal table of Taekwondo, securing 12 golds out of 22 medals. China are 11 medals behind as they are placed second with a total of seven gold medals, while USA are behind by one medal despite only winning gold three times.

Taekwondo matches show unexpected outcomes at any given time which is what makes this sport so entertaining to watch. 

Freestyle wrestling

Freestyle Wrestling was first introduced to the Olympics back in 1904 when weight classes made their appearance to the sport. Bantamweight, Lightweight Welterweight, and Heavyweight would be introduced in 1904, while Middleweight would appear in the 1908 Olympics in London and Super-Heavyweight would make an appearance in the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Women's freestyle wrestling would first appear in 2004, with the additional Bantamweight and Light Heavyweight classes being introduced in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) did once vote to drop wrestling in the Olympics in 2013 as this would lead to the United World Wrestling to resign. After revising to the program in 2016, wrestling campaigned to be readmitted to the Olympics which they successfully did.

The most recognisable gold medallists in Freestyle Wrestling would arguably be Sergei Beloglazov who won gold in the 1980 Moscow and 1988 Seoul Olympics, Buvaisar Saitiev who won gold in the 1996 Atlanta, 2004 Athens, and 2008 Beijing Olympics, and Henry Cejudo who would become a 2008 Beijing gold medallist before becoming a simultaneous two-division champion in the UFC in the Flyweight and Bantamweight division.

Two female Japanese wrestlers would be seen as the greatest Olympians to do it in the sport as Saori Yoshida would win three consecutive gold medals in the Lightweight class, while Kaori Icho would win four as she earned three consecutive gold medals in the Middleweight division before earning gold in the Lightweight division.

The United States currently stand at the top of the all-time medal table with 52 golds won out of 123 medals. Japan then follow on in second, with 33 gold medals out of 61, while Soviet Union are five medals behind with 28 gold medals.

A martial art which is commonly used in MMA makes this sport so popular as many fighting fans cannot wait to see the next biggest starts and prospects in wrestling.


Fencing has appeared in the Olympics Games since the start of the modern Olympic movement which began in 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens. Three forms of fencing would be used; Foil - using a light thrusting weapon the valid target is restricted to the torso with no double touches allowed, Epee - using a heavy thrusting weapon, the valid target area covers the entire body with double touches being allowed, Sabre - a light cutting and thrusting weapon, the valid target area includes everything above the waist with double touches not being allowed.

Women's fencing would begin with Foil back in the 1924 Paris Olympics, Epee would then follow in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games before showcasing Sabre at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Both men's and women's fencing would include team events as three or more participants would compete against each other in nine individuals bouts as the team with the most points would progress to the next round.
The most notable fenders in the Olympics include,  Aladar Gerevich who has won the most gold medals in Fencing in the Olympic Games, followed by six-time gold medallists, Edoardo Mangiaerotti, Pal Kovacs, Rudolf Karpati, and Nedo Nati.

Italian female fender, Valentina Vezzali, holds the most gold medals in women's Fencing as she has a total of six gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

Italy are on top of the overall medal table with a total of 49 golds won out of 130 medals. France are placed second with 44 gold medals out of 123, while Hungary are 10 behind double digits with total number of medals as they won gold 38 times.

A sport which is so unique from different countries has a lot of history in the Olympic Games as there are plenty of reasons why spectators are so intrigued to watch Fencing.


Written by Charlie Oxtoby


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