Document Shows Ancient Wrestling Match Was Fixed

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A screenshot of the ancient match fixing contract from Discovery News.

Long before people wondered whether pro-wrestling was real or fake, it seems that humans were signing contracts to fix matches.

A Greek document dated to A.D. 267 shows, according to researchers who deciphered it, that a wrestling match way back then was fixed ahead of time. The document is a contract made between two young wrestlers before the final match of a series in Egypt, Discovery News reports.

According to the text, the father of wrestler Nicantinous said he would pay an amount to the 'guarantors' - probably meaning trainers - of Demetrius, his wrestling rival. The two were to compete in the final of the 138th Great Antinoeia. This was a prestigious tournament of regional games that took place alongside a religious festival in Antinopolis, Egypt.

The pair were competing in the boys' division, which was usually for teenagers, Discovery News reports.

According to the contract, Demetrius was "to fall three times and yield." In exchange, he would receive "three thousand eight hundred drachmas of silver of old coinage "

The goal of competitors in this kind of wrestling was to the throw their opponent to the ground three times, according to Discovery News.

One clause in the contract said that even if the judges worked out the match was fixed, Demetrius would still get his drachmas.

If Demetrius backed out of the deal and won the match, then "you are of necessity to pay as penalty to my son on account of wrongdoing three talents of silver of old coinage without any delay or inventive argument."

Dominic Rathbone of King's College London translated the text. He said that the 3,800 drachmas was a small sum that would have been sufficient for the purchase of a donkey.

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