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Pankration, Klimax, and Death

(Some more stuff from the Fightlinker book – this is from the Pankration part)

Pankration matches lasted until a fighter submitted, someone died, or sundown. Unlike today’s matches where fights go to a cushy judge’s decision at the end, these ancient battles went to Klimax, which is like sudden death overtime. Straws were drawn and then each fighter would take turns slugging their motionless opponent until someone ccouldn’t continue. Suffice to say, this tended to wrap the competition up pretty quickly. It also gave both fighters extra incentive to finish a fight before sunset.

One of the most famous instances of Klimax was a bout between pankrationists Creugas of Epidamnos and Damoxenos of Syracuse. Damoxenos drew the short straw, giving Creugas first dibs. He smashed Damoxenos flush in the face with his fist, but Damoxenos took the punch without flinching and was able to continue. On his turn Damoxenos asked his opponent to lift up his left arm. He then stabbed his hand upwards under Creugas’ rib and ripped out his entrails, killing him.

Unfortunately for Damoxenos, the maneuver was ruled illegal – not because he disemboweled and killed his opponent but because it was decided that it took him more than one blow to do it. Damoxenos was disqualified and Creugas earned the win posthumously.

(Creugas, left, lifts up his arm while Damoxenos, right, preps his stabby strike. If you look closely you’ll notice some asshole snapped the dick off of Damoxenos’ statue.)

Creugas of Epidamnos wasn’t the only pankrationist who won his fight dispite dying. Arrhichion of Phigalia managed to do the same without the help of any rules or technicalities. His unknown opponent had back mounted Arrhichion with both hooks in and managed to crush his windpipe with a choke. As Arrhichion was dying he managed to get one of his opponent’s legs free and with one hard yank snapped his ankle, making him submit.