Sambo originated in the early 1920s as the newly formed Soviet Union attempted to improve the hand-to-hand-combat abilities of the Red Army. Two men, Viktor Spiridonov and Vasili Oschepkov, studied various martial arts throughout the world - disciplines like karate, judo and Mongolian wrestling - to find the most efficient way to thwart an armed opponent.
They worked independently through the 1930s. But after the Soviet government reportedly killed Oschepkov in 1937 for political reasons, a student of his, Anatoly Kharlampiev - along with students of Spiridonov - began combining their techniques. In 1938, the Soviet government recognized this fusion of teachings as the country's official combat sport.
I found this to be interesting. Worth a look LINK