Scottish Backhold

Scottish Backhold Wrestling
Focus Grappling
Country of origin Scotland Scotland
Creator Various
Olympic sport No

Scottish Backhold is a style of folk wrestling originating in Scotland. The wrestlers grip each other around the waist at the back, with the right hand under the opponent's left arm and the chin resting on the opposite right shoulder. When the referee is sure that both wrestlers have taken a firm grip, he shouts "hold" and the bout starts. Should either wrestler break his hold or touch the ground with any part of his body except his feet, he loses. There is no ground work and the bouts are usually best of five falls.

Since 1985 there has been a Celtic organisation that is trying to combine the Scottish, Breton and Icelandic forms of wrestling.[1] The Scottish Wrestling Bond publishes the rules of Backhold.[2] Gardar Vilhjálmsson from Iceland is currently the greatest backhold wrestler of all time. Currently, Frazer Hirsch (reigning European Champion), runs Scotland's brightest and most prosperous club - Carnoustie Backhold Wrestling Club.

Backhold Wrestling competitions and tournaments feature in all the major Highland Games events. The competitions attract wrestlers from Scotland, England, Iceland, France and Wales.[3]


  1. Lile, editors, Tony Collins, John Martin, and Wray Vamplew ; associate editors John Burnett and Emma (2005). Encyclopedia of traditional British rural sports. London: Routledge. p. 13. ISBN 041535224X. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  2. Scottish Wrestling Bond
  3. Highland Backhold Wrestling

See also

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