Are Contact Sports in Europe booming?
In Europe a number of contact sports emerged from the time of war. Many are already obsolete, but others only take more and more strength and popularity. In that era there was also influence from the Middle Eastern arts, making teachers take the best techniques of these new philosophies and create their own styles. Today the latter is happening with many other parts of the world, so the Europeans are facing a growth in the practice of martial arts from Asia and America.
From the continent of Europe emerged disciplines recognized worldwide as Greco-Roman wrestling in Greece and Rome, boxing in Ancient Greece taking power in England, Rugby in the UK and fencing simultaneously throughout Europe, Spain being one of its originators with the "Ropera sword".
At the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, the Europeans brought a total of 18 boxing medals in the men's and women's category, 21 in Fencing, 30 in Greco-Roman wrestling and 1 silver medal in Rugby 7.
Some time ago it was very unusual to see Taekwondo frequently in Europe, but in these Olympics we brought 6 medals, two of them from Spain.
There are also other non-Olympic disciplines such as the Russian Sambo and the Bare-Knuckle Boxing in Ireland. Despite the good performance in Europe for these sports, you would think they are the only ones that can be popular on the continent. In addition, when thinking about MMA, Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai, it is automatically believed that the fighters should be from the United States or Brazil, with occasional British at best.
The truth is that these contact sports have become a worldwide phenomenon with fighters competing from all over the world. There is a lot of talent in Russia and Eastern European countries, which is not a surprise, because there are many medalists coming from these nations. Now these athletes are leaning towards reaching the big leagues like the UFC, so soon we will see more Europeans triumphing in these tournaments.
Speaking of the UFC, the great heavyweight performance by the Dutch Allistair Overeem and Stefan Struve, who are influenced by Muay Thai, is just the beginning. The world has been impressed with Irishman Conor McGregor winning the featherweight title against Nick Diaz. In addition, all Americans remember with great admiration Croatian "Cro Cop" and "Pitbull" Arlovski of Belarus.
There is a fairly clear rise in contact sports in Europe, not only in the disciplines created here, but also in other sports that come as influences from other parts of the world. This growth seems to be linked to the immigrants who have reached the European nations in the last decades.
Little by little the Europeans are exporting talents to foreign leagues. Not only are fighters traveling to other continents, but also coaches and techniques in the use of accessories inside the ring.