I think it is common knowledge that the Olympic Games originated in Greece. However, did you know that Diagoras Of Rhodes (full name Diagoras Diagorides, or in Greek Διαγόρας ὁ Ῥόδιος), was an Olympic Boxing Champion during the 5th Century BC?
Maybe you are not, so Let’s have a closer look at this amazing man.
Diagoras Of Rhodes
Although we are mostly familiar with the Olympic games as we know and see it today, it originally started in 776 BC and continued until 393 AD.
They originally began in the South West Of Greece in a place called Olympia.
Like today, organizers held the competition every four years, but back then, they also conducted it with a religious purpose.
Thousands of people would visit the Olympics on each occasion which were in honor of Zeus. Zeus of course was the God of Sky and Thunder in Greek Mythology and he was also King of The Gods.
It was during these times that Diagoras Diagorides made his name. Originally from Ialyssos in Rhodes, he went on to become the Olympic Boxing Champion on two occasions at the Olympic Games.
He also claimed the title in the Nemean Games, 4 times at the Isthmian Games and one time during the Pythian Games.
Winning many accolades earned Diagoras Of Rhodes a massive status, and Pindar even honored him in his Ode – Olympian 7. The Temple of Athena in Lindos displayed this.
Although the exact number of accolades Diagoras won throughout his career remains unclear, he became a legend of his time.
Not only this, he went on to father his 3 sons (Damagetos, Akousilaos and Dorieus) who also succeeded in the Olympic Games as Boxers.
The Legend Of Diagoras Of Rhodes
In 452 and 448 BC, Diagoras Of Rhodes attended the Pankration, a sporting event at the Olympic Games, to watch his two sons compete.
This event, a combination of boxing, wrestling, and kickboxing, had few rules.
Upon his sons victory, the two of them (Damagetos and Akousilaos) went to their father and picked him up.
They paraded around the stadium proudly with their father on their shoulders for all the spectators to witness.
They were showered with flowers and everyone applauded their success. To be an Olympic Champion in those days was an honor, never mind to father Olympic Champions too.
During the festivities, one man/spectator reportedly shouted that Diagoras Diagorides might as well die now.
This was the peak of honor, happiness and success.
There was nothing else better he could do in life. Legend has it that Diagoras died at this moment. People say that this made him the happiest man to ever have lived.
Kallipáteira – The Daughter Of Diagoras Of Rhodes
In the early days, the Olympic Games barred women from attending because all events took place with nude competitors.
Kallipateira however, the Daughter of Diagoras and Mother to Peisirrhodos made a different move. Peisirrhodos and Eukles (her Nephew) were also competing in the Olympic Games, and Kallipateira was desperate to see them do so.
To do this, she disguised herself as a male trainer and crept her way into the arena unnoticed.
The excitement got the better of her though, and after seeing her boys win, she climbed over the fences to cheer and celebrate with them.
Falling in the process, she accidentally revealed herself as a woman.
For her crime, the judges of the games stood her before them. At that time, the penalty for any woman going against the ban often included severe punishment, even death.
It was here that she stated in her defense that if any woman was to be able to attend the games it should be her.
Having Diagoras Of Rhodes as her Father, his 3 Sons, her own son and a Nephew all holding medals as Olympic Champions, who was anyone to stop her having pride with this.
Naturally, the charges were dropped as the judges were in complete admiration. There was however a change in the rules from this point. All trainers in future events also had to attend the games in the nude to avoid any future misunderstandings.
From here, Kallipateira was the only woman to be allowed to attend the Olympic Games due to the successes of her family through the different generations.
The Remembrance Of Diagoras Of Rhodes
Although we are 2500 years on, the achievements and victories of Diagoras Diagorides and his family have never been forgotten.
The airport in Rhodes is named Diagoras International Airport in his honor, and the football club of Rhodes is also named Diagoras FC in his memory. These are nice gestures.
Also, back in 2004 when the Olympic Games was held in Greece, a statue of Diagoras was erected in Rhodes Town. Here you can see Diagoras being carried by his 2 Sons.
This is the statue here on the photographs which I took for you to see. I also think this is a wonderful tribute to a great man and his family.
Do you agree?
The Tomb Of Diagoras
In 2018, a group of archaeologists unearthed the tomb of Diagoras Diagorides in Marmaris (South West Turkey), a pyramid-shaped structure and the resting place of the famous Greek athlete.
Before its discovery, people believed the monument to be a holy site and came to pray there, especially over 50 years ago when locals thought it was the crypt of a saint.
Unfortunately, once news broke that it was not a holy site but Diagoras’s tomb, looters pillaged the site.
This saddens me, as whether the site was for a saint, somebody famous or somebody unknown, it is a complete lack of respect. Sometimes we have to say the human race has a lot to answer for.
Final Thoughts on Diagoras
I think the achievements of Diagoras Of Rhodes were simply amazing. To achieve this level of success and to Father Children that achieved the same success is unbelievable.
Long before days of modern technology and training equipment, Diagoras was a man that hit great heights with hard work and dedication. I wonder what it would have been like to witness the original Olympic Games?
For me, it is an honor to live in the village of Ialyssos that was once home to Diagoras Diagorides.
Let me know your thoughts on this, I would love to hearing from you and receiving all of your questions.
Just leave a comment below and I will be right back to you.