Wrestling, boxing and pankration: introducing the 'heavy events' in Ancient Olympic Games





Olympic Games, antiquity, fights


The Olympic Games in Ancient Greece took place between 776AC and 393AD, based on predominantly religious reasons, and the mythological values of that time. We know today that fights (wrestling, boxing and pankration) were part of the ancient Olympic program, and the purpose of this research is to introduce and understand the fundamentals that led them to this status. They were present in Egyptian culture since the second millennium BC, and were well described in the main works of Ancient Greece, such as those of Homer. Wrestling is the oldest of all, both in historical elements and in the introduction into the Olympic program. It combined strength, technique and intelligence. In addition to being a combat modality, it was also used as an educational element. Boxing was the second to appear, and it also appeared in an environment where the same fundamentals of wrestling were used but respecting the specific techniques in order to strike with the hands. And finally the pankration, the most violent of all, a kind of combination of the other two. Despite the technical differences, the dynamics of the events were very similar, such as the absence of division by weight category and separation into rounds, that is, from the beginning, the fight would only end by knockout or the opponent giving up. Boxing and wrestling are still part of the Olympic program today, and pankration can be recognized as an MMA practice, demonstrating that these sports have an important role in the field of martial arts, whose historical foundation we present in this research.


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