… because his sports heroes weren’t sissies like yours.
If names like Ronaldo, Curry, Mantle, Gretski or Rodgers color your weekend “macho” then you should think about taking up stamp-collecting or bird-watching.
Flamma, Priscus, Verus, Crixus, Tetraites… Those are the names that should be selling those Nike Predators you son wants for his birthday!
In other words, Gladiators!
The origins of the blood sport were adopted by the Romans from the Etruscan funeral tradition of fighting slaves at the funeral of nobles. While originally made up of slaves or criminals, by the 1st century AD many Gladiators had Gone Pro.
Fights became organized events and rarely ended in death. (Historians estimate somewhere around 1 in 8 were fatal because, well, swords are sharp).
There were strict rules, referees, and a professional code of conduct. In time the gladiators formed unions that payed for medical treatment, funerals and a pension should a gladiator leave behind a widow. Top gladiators would often buy their freedom and could become very rich celebrities.
They were the stars of their day. Successful gladiators supported charities, sponsored businesses and even had merchandise such as perfume (made of their sweat) and action figures.
They were exactly like the sports heroes of today. Except they literally put their lives on the line. While today’s whining little Diva’s won’t play if they feel butt-hurt.