Ancient Olympic Events


Mississippi 1977.3.68
Side B: boxers
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of the University Museums, University of Mississippi

Ancient boxing had fewer rules than the modern sport. Boxers fought without rounds until one man was knocked out, or admitted he had been beaten. Unlike the modern sport, there was no rule against hitting an opponent when he was down.

There were no weight classes within the mens' and boys' divisions; opponents for a match were chosen randomly.

Philadelphia MS2444
Side B: himantes hanging above boxer
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Instead of gloves, ancient boxers wrapped leather thongs (himantes) around their hands and wrists which left their fingers free.

Plato makes fun of boxers' faces, calling them the "folk with the battered ears." Plato, Gorgias 515e.

To read more about these topics, see Further Resources.

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