The 20 Most Dangerous Sports and Games From History

Pankration was played during the ancient Greek Olympic games. Credit: Unpolished History

29. Pankration

The next popular sport from the past is the ancient Greek martial art of Pankration, which translates to “all power”. The first time this game was played in recorded history was during the 33rd Olympic Games in 648 BC. However, many historians believe that it had existed long before. Many historians compare the sport as a combination of modern day Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting and wrestling. Two men were set to fight one another in hand-to-hand combat. Each man was supposed to bring their opponent as close to death as possible without actually killing them. However, if they did actually kill the other, they would automatically lose. This is similar to today’s rules in wrestling, where one man would be pinned to the ground. The other needs to either concede, or the referee needs to step in and say that one has been on the ground long enough.

One of the most famous Pankration champions was a man named Dioxippus. After he joined the army of Alexander the Great, an opponent appeared armed with multiple weapons to fight him. They doubted that the martial art was as impressive as it seemed. However, Dioxippus was so amazing at hand-to-hand combat, that he was disarmed by the other fighter completely, and still went on to win the fight. This proved that even with his bare hands, he was more powerful than most other soldiers. The History Channel has a full special dedicated called “Human Weapon: Ancient Greek Martial Arts”, so check that out if you’re interested to know more.