Anthony Milavic

This second-century C.E. inscription from Olympia memorializes the 35-year-old boxer Agathos Daimon, whose nickname was “The Camel.” Agathos Daimon had triumphed at the Nemean Games but died while competing at Olympia, after having “prayed to Zeus for victory or death.” The inscription is a sobering reminder of the hazards involved in ancient combat sports. The Greeks weren’t ignorant of the safety precautions taken in modern boxing; they simply chose to ignore them. As another Greek inscription, from the first century B.C.E., makes clear: “A boxer’s victory is gained in blood.”