Cheaters of Antiquity: Leontiskos of Messene
There’s a saying that winners never cheat and cheaters never win. If Leontiskos of Messene was around today to hear someone say those words his lungs would explode from the sudden rush of air as he tried to laugh his ass off. Leontiskos was a man who saw cheating as nothing more than bending the rules of competition in his favor. If by bend, we meant “break” and by competition we meant “the fingers of his opponents.”
Little is known about Leontiskos of Messene, presumably because the only thing of any note whatsoever about him is that he was a terrible wrestler. Which, if we’re honest, makes him even more impressive, because history has a tendency to forget about terrible athletes, no one in ancient Greece wrote about the guys who spent every competition with their face buried so far in the dirt they ended up with diamond braces. However, just like Rock Lee from Naruto, Leontiskos turned his greatest weakness into his greatest asset.
Reports vary on exactly how terrible at wrestling Leontiskos was, some say he was simply unskilled while others claim he wasn’t even able to throw an opponent. Either way, it’s clear today that Leontiskos was so not a wrestler he had to urinate with two hands to avoid being flipped and pinned by his own manhood.
Rather than actually learn to wrestle or something stupid like that, Leontiskos instead focused all of his energy into mastering exactly one technique. Like the guy who spammed nothing but Hadoukens in Street Fighter II, Leontiskos mastered the art of breaking his opponent’s fingers mid-match so he’d never have to learn how to actually fight.
In case you’re curious, yes, this was completely against the rules of the sport, however, Leontiskos was so good at it, he consistently managed to pull it off without being disqualified. Which is arguably more impressive than winning legitimately. We’re not saying winning is easy, but it’s a damn sight easier to win a boxing match with shots to the dome than it is with nothing but haymakers to the nutsack–which is the wrestling, less-genital-oriented equivalent of what Leontiskos was doing
How he managed to win any matches this way is a complete mystery, since we assume having him disqualified would have been as simple as his opponent holding up their mangled hand while fighting back tears.
We’re actually being serious here, Leontiskos’s statue (yes the cheater got a statue) is right next to a another statue of a guy who was nicknamed “Finger-breaker.” The fact Leontiskos cheated to win isn’t just something we know thousands of years later, they knew it back when he was alive and he still got a freaking statue, they even put it in a special section with the other cheaters. That’d be like building a statue of Tonya Harding holding a bloody baton out of the melted down medals of the people she’d screwed over.
We’re not condoning cheating, but are we are saying it’s freaking hilarious that a guy who literally only knew how to do exactly one illegal thing in wrestling managed to not only get into history books, but won a few titles and scored a sweet-ass statue to boot. Let that be a lesson to you all, if you’re going to cheat, at least make sure you get really good at it; people respect perseverance.
Karl Smallwood is a freelance comedy writer you can hire! His work has been featured on Cracked, Toptenz and Gunaxin. You should probably click those links to make sure he isn’t lying. He also runs his own website where he responds to the various pieces of hate-mail he’s gotten over the years, in fact, he got so much hate-mail that he wrote a book about it that you can buy on Amazon. When he isn’t writing, Karl also Tweets and uploads pictures of himself drinking on Facebook.