Marcus Aurelius Asklepiades is potentially the most famous pankratiast and possibly athlete in ancient history. However his name today is largely unknown, which is insane considering he never lost a single match, like, ever. Asklepiades was so feared as a pankratiast that it wasn’t unheard of for opponents to withdraw from a match just seeing him walk into the ring.So why have we never heard of this walking ’80s movie? Well, no one is really sure, Asklepiades has all the ingredients of exactly the kind of man whose name should have been punched into the side of mountains, he was the son of a famous athlete and politician, he was utterly undefeated in his sport and he won honorary citizenship to every town he ever competed in. In fact, some scholars have gone as far to say that Asklepiades was the David Beckham of his day, noting that dozens of archeologists have found long scrawling odes to how badass he was all across the Mediterranean.
For six years, about 180 A.D., Asklepiades traveled from Asia to Italy winning every pankration event he could find and his fearsome reputation followed him every where he went. His skill and ferocity was so legendary that after only a few bouts Asklepiades began winning random events by default when opponents scheduled to fight him spontaneously withdrew. Just for a second imagine how utterly ridiculous a modern sportsman would have to be for their opponent to literally give up the second they realized who exactly they were going to have to face.
These walkover victories also garnered Asklepiades a great deal of fame and as mentioned above, Asklepiades was honored by virtually every city where he smashed an opponent to pieces. In 2004, an expert with an actual PhD on ancient athletics named Dr Jason König described that Asklepiades “was known and honored literally in all corners of the Mediterranean world.” If geography isn’t your strongpoint, it means that there was virtually nowhere on Earth where you could get a decent tan where people didn’t know about the walking wrecking ball that was Asklepiades. In a time before the internet or even tacky merchandise this is wicked impressive.
However, this fame came at a price and due to the overwhelming envy of the dozens of opponents Asklepiades had stepped over on the way to the top, he retired at age 25. Yes, Asklepiades retired because he was too good. The only way that story would be more awesome is if he came out of retirement a decade later just to prove that he was still the man. Oh right, of course he did that.
As a native of the Egyptian city of Alexandria, after retirement Asklepiades was awarded a honory position at the Museum of Alexandria which he supposedly enjoyed because we know for a fact he could have flexed and exploded the building at a moments notice if he didn’t. After around 14 years of being a bookworm (over double the amount of time he’d spent being an undefeatable, potentially solid-gold athletic superman) Asklepiades entered a tournament for the local Olympic games of Alexandria.
In a move that shocked absolutely no one but the idiots stupid enough to step into the ring with a guy who a decade earlier won fights by literally flipping his dong out (they fought nude), Asklepiades won the tournament and retired, again.
In other words, Asklepiades came out of retirement, added another win to his already perfect streak of victories then immediately retired forever again just to rub it in. AND NO HISTORY BOOKS REMEMBER HIM! The only conceivable explanation is that every book they tried to record Asklepiades’ feats in caught fire, which is why the only information we have on him is found carved onto rocks.
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.