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Australian MMA Association

MMA History
PanGration was an ancient form of unarmed hand to hand combat resembling modern MMA.One of the earliest forms of widespread unarmed combat sports with minimal rules was Greek panGration, which was introduced into the Olympic Games in 648 B.C.Even as late as the Early Middle Ages, statues were put up in Rome and other cities to honour remarkable panGratiasts.
Pre-modern
No-holds-barred events reportedly took place in the late 1800s when wrestlers representing a huge range of fighting styles including various catch wrestling styles, Greco-Roman wrestling and many others met in tournaments and music-hall challenge matches throughout Europe. The first major encounter between a boxer and a wrestler in modern times took place in 1887 when John L. Sullivan, then heavyweight world boxing champion, entered the ring with his trainer, Greco-Roman wrestling champion William Muldoon, and was slammed to the mat in two minutes. The next publicized encounter occurred in the late 1890s when future heavyweight boxing champion Bob Fitzsimmons took on European Greco-Roman wrestling champion Ernest Roeber. Reportedly, Roeber suffered a fractured cheekbone in this bout, but was able to get Fitzsimmons down on the mat, where he applied an armlock and made the boxer submit. In 1936, heavyweight boxing contender Kingfish Levinsky and veteran professional wrestler Ray Steele competed in a mixed match, which Steele won in 35 seconds.

Another early example of mixed martial arts combat was the martial art of Bartitsu, founded in London in 1899, which was the first martial art known to have combined Asian and European fighting styles, and which saw MMA-style contests throughout England, pitting European and Japanese champions against representatives of various European wrestling styles.

Boxing vs. jujutsu contests were popular entertainments throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s. In Japan these contests were known as Merikan, from the Japanese slang for "American [fighting]". Merikan contests were fought under a variety of rules including points decision, best of three throws or knockdowns, and victory via knockout or submission.[citation needed]

Professional wrestling died out after World War I and was reborn in two streams: "shoot", in which the fighters actually competed, and "show," which evolved into modern sports entertainment professional wrestling.

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