Ass-kicking Athletes of Antiquity: Arrhichion of Phigalia
If you’ve never heard of Arrhichion of Phigalia before, we can guarantee that his name will forever be burned into your memory after you read about how ridiculously badass he is. Arrhichion was a man so focused on winning and defending his title that he died in the process of doing so, but here’s the insane part–his lifeless corpse was then crowned an Olympic victor. Wait, what? Arrhichion is commonly referred to as the most famous pankratiast of all time, and not just because he tore victory from death’s vise-like jaws of defeat. Arrhichion was a three time Olympic winner of the Pankration crown. This guys fists were a leading cause of kidney failure in ancient Greece. He was the kind of guy who scratched his nose by headbutting rocks.
Little is known about his other two victories, since “winning while dead” tends to eclipse other achievements, even if those achievements are kicking oiled-up naked foreigners until someone gives you a crown made of leaves.
His third victory however is well documented. During the 54th Olympiad Arrhichion made his way all up to the Pankration final, presumably by beating guys half to death while “you’re the best around” blared in the background. In the final Arrhichion came up against an unknown rival, because even when they kill a guy in the ring, losers weren’t recorded in ancient Greece. Greeks were just that hardcore.
This rival quickly gained the upper hand and before long they had Arrhichion in a chokehold so tight the carbon in Arrhichion’s neck was at risk of turning to diamond. At this point Arrhichion had a simple choice: give up, or go down like a real OG. Luckily for us, Arrhichion chose the latter option and using the last of his strength, he let his leg assume its natural python form and applied the most bitchin’ ankle lock in history.
Historians disagree about the exact technique Arrhichion used, however, one thing is clear. Arrhichion’s opponents ankle exploded into pain shrapnel that caused him to immediately give up. When officials came to raise Arrhichion’s hand in victory, rather than breaking their fingers, Arrhichion’s hand remained oddly limp and lifeless. After the official checked that Arrhichion wasn’t trying to limber up his hand for an almighty pimp slap it quickly became clear that his neck had been broken. He’d been so dead set on victory that he put his very life-force into a final, ankle-snapping attack. Historians believe that chest hair was discovered at this very moment in history.
Now the rules of Pankration are very clear. If someone gives up, they lose. Arrhichion dying just proved that he held out longer than his opponent did, thus, he was the winner by default. Yes, in ancient Greek Pankration, breaking your own neck was a legitimate and viable tactic, however, only one person in history ever pulled it off. And that person was Arrhichion of Philgalia. Undead badass.
Karl Smallwood is a freelance comedy writer that you can hire! His work has been featured on Cracked.com, Toptenz.net and Gunaxin.com 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.
Karl also documented The Most Hilarious Overreactions to Scary Movies. For a more contemporary ass-kicking athlete, check out Karl’s account of the five-decades-and-counting winning streak enjoyed by The Great Gama.