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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in Latin America, the offspring of the union of an Indian and a Negro. On the island of Jamaica, the term designates the offspring of a mulatto woman and a Negro.



(acronym from the Russian samozashchita bez oruzhiia, “self-defense without a weapon”), a form of wrestling based on the most effective techniques of Soviet regional wrestling styles.

Sambo arose in the USSR during the 1930’s. In sambo upright wrestling, allowable moves include trips, leg sweeps, grapevines, chest and back throws, and leg holds. In sambo ground wrestling, it is permitted to hold an opponent down and apply painful holds to the arm and leg joints. A bout lasts six to eight minutes without a break. Competitions are held on a circular mat 9 m in diameter.

Official competitions in sambo are held for athletes of various age groups and weight categories. For adults there are ten weight categories, ranging from 48 kg to more than 100 kg. European and world championships are held in the adult category.

The emergence of sambo is associated with the athletes and coaches V. S. Spiridonov, A. A. Kharlampiev, I. V. Vasil’ev, V. F. Maslov, E. M. Chumakov, V. M. Andreev, and Kh. I. Ni-niashvili. In 1938, sambo was made part of the Uniform All-Union Sports Classification, and the All-Union Sambo Federation was established. In 1939 the first individual USSR sambo championship was held, and in 1949 the first team championship. Since 1949 all-Union competitions have been held annually. In 1966 the International Amateur Wrestling Federation (FILA) recognized sambo as an international sport and organized an independent Sambo Commission within the federation.

From the 1950’s through the 1970’s, national sambo federations were created in the Mongolian People’s Republic, the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Great Britain, Iran, Spain, Italy, the United States, Japan, and a number of other countries. In 1967 the first international tournament of sambo wrestlers was held in Riga, which in 1972 was also the site of the first official European championship. The first world championship took place in Tehran, with wrestlers from 11 countries competing.

Among the world champions have been the Soviet athletes G. V. Georgadze, A. I. Shor, M. M. Iunak, D. L. Rudman, A. S. Fedorov, Ch. I. Ezerskas, L. K. Tediashvili, N. S. Danilov, and V. I. Klivodenko. Soviet sambo wrestlers won the team championships at the world competitions in 1974 (in Ulan Bator) and in 1975 in Minsk. Among foreign athletes, the greatest successes have been achieved by the wrestlers of the Mongolian People’s Republic, whose world champions include Charang, G. Batsukh, Kh. Baianmunkkh, and Sh. Pantsag.

In addition to being a sport, sambo is also counted among the martial arts. Here, sambo techniques are used against an armed or unarmed opponent; the moves involve disarming, pinning, binding, and convoying the opponent. This form of sambo is now part of military training for the armed forces of the USSR.


Kharlampiev, A. A. Bor’ba sambo. Moscow, 1964.
100 urokov bor’by sambo. Moscow, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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