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. There were both 2-horse chariot and 4-horse chariot races, with separate races for chariots drawn by foals. Another race was between carts drawn by a team of 2 mules.
The course was 12 laps around the stadium track (9 miles). The course was 6 laps around the track (4. 5 miles), and there were separate races for full-grown horses and foals. Jockeys rode without stirrups. The ancient Greeks considered the rhythm and precision of an athlete throwing the discus as important as his strength. Only wealthy people could afford to pay for the training, equipment, and feed of both the driver (or jockey) and the horses. As a result, the owner received the olive wreath of victory instead of the driver or jockey.
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. The ancient Greeks considered the rhythm and precision of an athlete throwing the discus as important as his strength.
The discus was made of stone, iron, bronze, or lead, and was shaped like a flying saucer. Sizes varied, since the boys’ division was not expected to throw the same weight as the mens’. The javelin was a man-high length of wood, with either a sharpened end or an attached metal point. It had a thong for a hurler’s fingers attached to its center of gravity, which increased the precision and distance of a javelin’s flight. Athletes used lead or stone jump weights (halteres) shaped like telephone receivers to increase the length of their jump.
The halteres were held in front of the athlete during his ascent, and forcibly thrust behind his back and dropped during his descent to help propel his body further. There were 4 types of races at Olympia. The stadion was the oldest event of the Games. Runners sprinted for 1 stade (192 m. ), or the length of the stadium. The other races were a 2-stade race (384 m. ), and a long-distance run which ranged from 7 to 24 stades (1,344 m. to 4,608 m. ). And if these races weren’t enough, the Greeks had one particularly grueling event which we lack. There was also a 2 to 4-stade (384 m. to 768 m. ace by athletes in armor.
This race was especially useful in building the speed and stamina that Greek men needed during their military service. If we remember that the standard hoplite armor (helmet, shield, and greaves)weighed about 50-60 lbs, it is easy to imagine what such an event must have been like. Like the modern sport, an athlete needed to throw his opponent on the ground, landing on a hip, shoulder, or back for a fair fall. 3 throws were necessary to win a match. Biting was not allowed, and genital holds were also illegal. Attacks such as breaking your opponent’s fingers were permitted.