Top 10 Most Celebrated Athletes of the Ancient Olympics
10 Onomastos of Smyrna
Onomastos was the first boxer to win an Olympic gold medal. In 688 BC, the sport was first presented during the 23rd Olympiad. He is also said to have written the rules of Ancient Greek boxing, according to historians. Onomastos has the unbroken record of “the boxer with the most Olympic boxing titles” with four victories to his credit.
9 Orsippus of Megara
Orsippus was a well-known Greek runner who hails from Megara. He became famous for being “the first to run the Olympic footrace naked” and “the first of all Olympic champions to be crowned naked.” In 720 BC, he won the stadion race in the 15th Ancient Olympic Games. The Greek custom of athletic nudity (gymnos) was also imported and accepted at that time.
8 Euryleonis of Sparta
Euryleonis was a famous female charioteer. In 368 BC, she won the Ancient Olympics’ two-horse chariot race. She was a well-heeled princess who was also an avid horse breeder. Euryleonis was the Olympic Games’ second female crown-bearer. Her forerunner, Spartan Princess Kynisca, had won the four-horse race 24 years before.
7 Kyniska of Sparta
Kyniska, a Greek princess, is the first woman to win at the Ancient Olympic Games. In the 96th and 97th Olympiads, her chariot won the four-horse chariot race. Kyniska was the daughter of Archidamos, King of Sparta, and was born approximately 440 BC. Kyniska was believed to be a tomboy, an adept equestrian, and quite rich, all of which are ideal qualities for a successful trainer. Women have always been barred from competing in the Olympic Games. They may, however, compete in equestrian contests if they owned and trained their own horses. Agesilaus, the future king of Sparta, persuaded her to join. She hired guys and competed in the Olympics with her squad. In the Temple of Zeus in Olympia, Kynisca was honoured with a bronze statue of a chariot and horses, a charioteer, and a statue of herself. It featured an inscription on it stating that she was the only female to win the wreath in the Olympic chariot competitions.
6 Diagoras of Rhodes
Diagoras was a boxer from Greece. He is well-known for his personal victories, as well as those of his sons and grandchildren. In the 464 BC Games, Diagoras won the boxing event. He was also a four-time Isthmian Games champion and a two-time Nemean Games champion. Damagetos, his oldest son, won the pankration in 452 and 448 BC. In 448 BC, Akouslaos, the second son, won the boxing match. The two celebrated their triumph by carrying their father around the stadium, which was packed with fans cheering them on.
5 Melankomas of Caria
Melankomas was the 49th BC Olympic boxing champion, as well as a winner in a variety of other sports. He was said to have fought for two days with his arms outstretched, without lowering them. He also developed his exceptional competitive form via consistent and intense training. His distinct boxing approach was praised. His motions were fluid, uncomplicated, and enthralling. Throughout his career, Melankomas was undefeated—yet he never hit or was struck by an opponent. He would only defend himself against his opponents’ punches. The opponent would invariably become irritated and lose his cool.
4 Astylos of Croton
From 488 to 480 BC, Astylos won three consecutive Olympic Games in the stade and diaulos running events. He also took first place in the hoplitodromos, an armoured running race. In three Olympiads, he won a total of six victory olive wreaths. He ran for his homeland Croton in the 488 BC Olympics, but in the next two Olympiads, he elected to compete as a citizen of Syracuse in homage of the tyrant Hieron. For his first triumph, his countrymen adored and glorified him. Despite a great career, he had to deal with shame and slander when the residents of Croton were outraged by his decision to play for Syracuse. They removed him from the city and smashed his monument.
3 Theagenes of Thasos
Theagenes was a great fighter, runner, and pankratiast. In Greek mythology, he was thought to be the son of Heracles, a heavenly hero. In the 75th Olympiad (480 BC), he won the Boxing event, and in the following, he earned a championship for pankration. In total, he was believed to have won approximately 1300 crowns in various Panhellenic Games competitions. Pausanias, a Greek historian, tells a strange narrative about a statue of Theagenes sculpted by Glaucias of Aegina. A guy who had a vengeance towards Theagenes scourged it. The statue toppled on this man one night, killing him. The statue was charged with murder and sentenced to exile by being cast into the sea.
2 Leonidas of Rhodes
Leonidas of Rhodes was one of antiquity’s most famous runners. He won all three races – the stadion, the diaulos, and the hoplitodromos – for four Olympiads in a row (164-152 BC). He was a multi-talented runner. Sprinters preferred the stadion and diaulos, but hoplitodromos demanded more muscular strength and endurance. He was given the title “Triastes” for winning all three of them. Michael Phelps broke his own record of twelve individual Olympic win wreaths in 2016, when he won his 13th medal in the 200-meter dash at the 31st Modern Olympiad.
1 Milon of Croton
Milon is regarded as one of the all-time best wrestlers. He won the Olympic wrestling competition six times. He won the juvenile wrestling event in 540 BC, and then the men’s wrestling event in each of the next five Olympics. He also won the Pythian Games seven times, the Nemean Games nine times, the Isthmian Games 10 times, and several other tournaments. He had such a great body and power that he was thought to be Zeus’s son. Milon’s superhuman strength and lifestyle are the subject of several anecdotes. Every day, he was rumoured to consume more than eight kg of beef. According to legend, he took his own bronze statue to Olympia.