In What Ancient Game Played in Greece?

In Ancient Greece, one of the most popular games played was called Pankration. This was a combat sport that combined elements of wrestling and boxing. Pankration was considered one of the most intense and physically demanding games in ancient times.

The Origins of Pankration

The origins of Pankration can be traced back to ancient Greek mythology. It is said that the game was created by Theseus, the legendary hero who also defeated the Minotaur in the Labyrinth. Theseus wanted to create a game that would test both strength and skill, and thus, Pankration was born.

The Rules of Pankration

Pankration allowed almost all forms of physical contact, making it a highly brutal and intense game. The participants were allowed to use punches, kicks, joint locks, and even chokeholds to defeat their opponents. The only two rules were no biting or eye gouging.

Matches were held in an open-air arena called a Palestra, where spectators could watch the fierce battles unfold. The objective was simple – incapacitate your opponent through submission or knockout.

Training for Pankration

To excel in Pankration, participants had to undergo rigorous training regimes. They practiced wrestling techniques, boxing strikes, and grappled with fellow athletes to improve their skills. This training focused on building strength, endurance, and agility.

Famous Pankration Athletes

One of the most famous athletes in Pankration was Milon of Croton. Milon was known for his incredible strength and endurance. Legend has it that he once carried a fully grown bull on his shoulders before slaughtering it with his bare hands!

Another renowned Pankration athlete was Dioxippus. Dioxippus was an Olympic champion and a feared opponent in the arena. He was known for his exceptional boxing skills and relentless determination.

The Legacy of Pankration

Pankration was not only a popular sport in Ancient Greece but also left a lasting impact on future combat sports. Many elements of Pankration can be seen in modern martial arts such as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The unrestricted nature of Pankration laid the foundation for the evolution of combat sports.


In Ancient Greece, Pankration was the ultimate test of strength, skill, and endurance. This brutal combat sport allowed participants to use various techniques to defeat their opponents. The legacy of Pankration lives on in modern martial arts, showcasing its importance and influence even after thousands of years.