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The Cestus Glove  

  

 

'The Cestus Glove' 

 

 

In ancient Greece, boxing was a popular competitive sport and was included in the first Olympic Games. In Greek mythology, the Cestus was the first leather boxing glove that had spikes and razor edges on the back and across the knuckles.

 

 

 

While the origins of boxing are unknown, there have been recent discoveries on the island of Crete that date back the history of boxing to 1500 BC. Homer, the Greek poet describes a two-person fight in the Iliad, as early as the epic poem's setting around 1800 BC. Records indicate the sport was part of the ancient Olympic Games of 688 BC. Plato mentions boxing in both The Republic and the dialogue Gorgias, and the poet Pindar elegized the Olympic boxing champion of 474 BC.

 

Along with running, wrestling, and the use of weapons, boxing was part of a young man's education in ancient Greece .The Romans also embraced boxing, turning the sport into a brutal gladiatorial spectacle. Boxers of this time covered their hands and arms with a leather thong called a CESTUS, sometimes studding it with metal spikes. The combatants often fought until one was fatally injured.

CESTUS' were usually used in gladiator bouts where otherwise unarmed combatants - usually slaves - fought to the death. This form of boxing became increasingly bloody until the CESTUS was officially banned in the 1st century BC. Hand-to-hand fighting was banned 393 AD.
 

 

 

CESTUS (from Lat. caedo, strike), a gauntlet or boxing-glove used by the ancient pugilists. Of this there were several varieties, the simplest and least dangerous being the meilichae, which consisted of strips of raw hide tied under the palm, leaving the fingers bare.

 

 

With these the athletes in the palaestrae wore them to practice, reserving for serious contests the more formidable kinds, such as the sphaerae, which were sewn with small metal balls covered with leather, and the terrible myrmex, sometimes called limb-breakers, which were studded with heavy nails. The straps were of different lengths, many reaching to the elbow, in order to protect the forearm when guarding heavy blows.

 

(see J. H. Krause, Gymnastik und Agonislik der Hellenen, 1841)