Ancient Olympic Events


Toledo 1961.24
Side B: pankration
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of the Toledo Museum of Art

This event was a grueling combination of boxing and wrestling. Punches were allowed, although the fighters did not wrap their hands with the boxing himantes.

Rules outlawed only biting and gouging an opponent's eyes, nose, or mouth with fingernails. Attacks such as kicking an opponent in the belly, which are against the rules in modern sports, were perfectly legal.

Olympia,Stadium: View through vaulted entrance from E
Photograph courtesy of Frederick Hemans

Like boxing and wrestling, among others, this event had separate divisions for both men and boys.

The poet Xenophanes describes the pankration as "that new and terrible contest...of all holds" (Xenophanes 2)

To read more about these topics, see Further Resources.

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