The Times, this morning, contained an excellent article about match fixing in Ancient Greece (now part of Egypt). In fragments of papyrus discovered 120 years ago but only recently translated due to the sheer volume of fragments discovered (over 150,000) was the details of the first evidence of match fixing in AD 267 in the town of Antinopolis; a contract to throw a wrestling match. A wrestler, Nicantinous and his father, Aurelius Aquila entered into a contract to throw a match with Demetrius at the 138th Great Antinoeia, a regional sporting event, for 3,807 drachmas (about £100 in today’s money); both he and his father were named in the contract. In fact, it said that Nicantinous had to “fall three times and yield and as a result will receive . . . 3,807 drachmas”. However they would only get paid if the judges of the wrestling match found Nicantinous’s opponent to be the winner, Nicantinous had to do a good job and could not be seen to have thrown the match. The other parties to the contract obviously placed money on Demetrius (had they had betting exchanges they could have placed a lay bet on Nicantinous to lose!) and possibly made a killing.
It has only taken 1750 years for this match fixing to come to light. Now, with legal betting and modern technology unusual betting patterns can be seen before the event takes place and the authorities notified. Wake up America!