While checking out the site's policy on pro wrestling, I came across a meta discussion on the topic. These days, the term "professional wrestling" is almost always associated with the worked sport, and that's primarily what the meta question discusses. However, this answer mentions the possibility of their still being competitive wrestling leagues:

If there are legit leagues out there, then questions about those would be on-topic.

This got me wondering if any such thing exists. I am not aware of any "major" (regional or national) athletic organizations where people are paid money to compete in wrestling matches -- all forms of competitive wrestling are amateur (and none of them follow pro-wrestling-like catch rules). MMA comes close but those are a mix of wrestling, kickboxing, martial arts, etc.

I know the history of pro wrestling is a bit murky, but I was under the impression that the "sport" had become almost entirely worked by the mid-1920s, and that any legitimate competitive leagues didn't survive very far past that.

I heard rumors a few years ago that a group wanted to start up a legitimate catch-as-catch-can wrestling league, but I never heard anything beyond that.

Are there any groups out there that pay athletes to participate in wrestling matches (any style)?

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    How the term "professional wrestling" is used here with what is referenced can be misleading. The meta question you link to is specifically about "pro wrestling" for "entertainment" purposes. I believe you are asking for any leagues in which "amateur wrestling" is done professionally. – user527 Mar 4 '16 at 1:51
  • that is true but I didn't know what else to call "wrestling that is done professionally". One of the answers to that meta question mentioned that such a hypothetical league would be clearly on-topic here. – KutuluMike Mar 4 '16 at 1:58
  • I think "wrestling that is done professionally" is fine. I just found your reference to that meta question to be out of place with what you're asking. That said, I am updating that question so any confusion that may arise is prevented. – user527 Mar 4 '16 at 2:00
  • I see your point. Really, I only mentioned the meta question because one of the answers specifically raises the possibility of their existence, which is what prompted this question to begin with :) – KutuluMike Mar 5 '16 at 17:06

I believe the PRO WRESTLING LEAGUE-INDIA would satisfy the question; from their about page

THE Pro Wrestling League is a big leap in the history of oldest combat sport. An initiative of ProSportify and Wrestling Federation of India, PWL is the richest wrestling event ever. The league in the inaugural year offers a prize purse of Rupees 15 crore including the total prize purse of Rs. 3 crore. PWL with 6 city-based franchisee teams will have a Pan-India reach. Each team will have 9 players – 5 Indians, 4 foreign , 5 men, 4 women. In the inaugural year, PWL will feature a total of 18 ties – 15 in the league phase, 2 semi-finals and the Grand Finale. Each tie will be contested on the best of 7 bouts formats; interestingly all seven bouts will be contested in the League Phase. PWL guarantees a minimum of 150 bouts. The League will be played under the PWL Rules, conforming to the United World Wrestling and Wrestling Federation of India rules.

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    Very likely. United World Wrestling is an amateur wrestling organization, so if this group is affiliated with them but paying it's athletes it would count. (Non-worked means the matches aren't predetermined, the competitors aren't cooperating with each other, and the moves and holds are not just for show.) – KutuluMike Mar 1 '16 at 13:17

the answer is.. sort of.


I lived at the Olympic Training Center in 2009-2010 and made roughly $5,250 for competing in 2009. That money came from a medal in Iran, one in Bulgaria, and one in a US tournament (Dave Schultz memorial) (this amount, by the way, is much less than minimum wage). 2010 I was injured all year.

There was a "real-pro wrestling" league started the year before I graduated college, but it fell apart. Largely it was due to a lack of distributed risk structure on the part of the business owners as well as athletes not taking it seriously. (many showed up overweight)

The real problem is the USOC governs irresponsibly. Any attempt to organize around them is taken as a threat. It has long been a modern Olympic policy to diminish the status of professionalism in sports. It's an exploitative business model.

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