The World's Oldest Sport?

Although the title of “world’s oldest sport” is a matter of great debate among sports enthusiasts from all disciplines, proponents for the sport of wrestling have recently put forth an ancient text, which is being heralded as the world’s oldest written instruction manual on any sport known to man.

The ancient text was discovered on an archaeological dig in Egypt in the late 1800’s, in a region of Cairo that is known to have been inhabited by Greek colonists. Written in Greek on an 18-inch wide piece of papyrus, the text provides a list of instructions on how to wrestle, and is dated by experts to have been written between 100 and 200 AD. Repeated throughout the text is the Greek word “pleckson”, which can be translated to “fight it out”. Other interesting passages translated from the document include:

"Stand to the side of your opponent, and with your right arm take a headlock and fight it out."

"You underhook with your right arm. You wrap your arm around his, where he has taken the underhook, and attack the side with your left foot. You push away with your left hand. You force the hold and fight it out."

"You stand up to his side, attack with your foot and fight it out."

Although there is certainly a great deal of evidence supporting the development of sport prior to 100 AD, the sport of wrestling has now presented the earliest documentation of any such kind. Currently, the document is being housed at Columbia University in New York, which is appropriately home of the first college wrestling program in the United States.

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