• Greek games were never fully integrated into Roman festival games (i.e ludi and munera)
  • Roman practiced many athletics; running, wrestling, boxing, acrobatic riding, chariot racing (especially from the influence of their Etruscan neighbours)
  • Roman were originally skeptical of nudity, but soon became the norm
  • Most of the roman sports had origins in forms, terminology to Greek origins (i.e Monumental Circus came from Greek hippodrome)
  • Most of our knowledge about roman heavy sports comes from pictorial depictions; lack written content; most complete one we have is Ancient-Roman-Boxing-CeatusPhilstratus treatise.
  • BOXING= most popular heavy athletic contest (considered most rigorous and dangerous. 1) Thick, wrapped gloves [protect hands and lessen blows] 2) No wrestling (clinching) moves 3) no kicking
  • For gladiatorial events, the length of the wraps was increased and jagged edges were added to the knuckles to make blows more deadly (ceastus) increased force from punches, ran up the length of the arm
  • Ancient boxing allows for great movement, rings were NOT confined rings
  • Matches would begin with boxers facing each other, standing upright with arms bent and held forward, usually (away from the body) [guarding the head, the most attacked location]
  • Would use open left hand to ward off punches, ducking was avoided, RAM tactic
  • Hair was cut short and kept long in the back, so the opponent would have nothing to grab onto during pankration
  • No time limit in boxing, fight ends with knockout or surrendering
  • Were allowed hit to a man when he was down; COULD NOT, directly downward punch into the skull were banned
  • No weight division classes; got via drawing lots
  • A variety of offensive and defensive boxing positions were utilized by fighters (i.e ducking, swerving etc.)
  • Hits to the head and face were the most damaging; short & long term
  • Speculation: the death rate among ancient boxers was much higher than it is today
The Ancient Olympics: Sports & Events


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  • WRESTLING: 1) throw the man to the ground three times 2) no aids 3) no blows, kick, thrust
  • Begin in the starting position; grappled; throw one to the grown..no fighting on the ground
  • No weight class division (weight and power dominated in this area)
  • LEAST interesting of the three heavy athletics


  • PANKRATION: all-in one athletic contest 1) no gloves 2) could attack anywhere on the body (only eye gouging & biting was forbidden)
  • WIDE variety of fighting styles and moves were utilized; won via knockout of submission


Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Ancient Roman: Boxing, Wrestling, Pankration," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019, https://schoolworkhelper.net/ancient-roman-boxing-wrestling-pankration/.
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3 years ago

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