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The Oldest Story About a Ref Screw Up in History

We as fans always complain about the state of refereeing and judging in our beloved sport, but 1,800 years ago if a ref screwed a fighter it meant death. Yahoo News reports on an ancient Roman gladiator named Diodorus who died in a battle due to ref’s error. A professor in Canada has deciphered the writing on Diodorus’ tombstone.

The epitaph and art on the tombstone suggest the gladiator, named Diodorus, lost the battle (and his life) due to a referee’s error, according to Michael Carter, a professor at Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada. Carter studies gladiator contests and other spectacles in the eastern part of the Roman Empire.

“Demetrius signals surrender, Diodorus doesn’t kill him; he backs off expecting that he’s going to win the fight,” Carter said.

The battle appears to be over. However the summa rudis — perhaps interpreting Demetrius’ fall as accidental, or perhaps with some ulterior motive — thought otherwise, Carter said.

“What the summa rudis has obviously done is stepped in, stopped the fight, allowed Demetrius to get back up again, take back his shield, take back his sword, and then resume the fight.”

This time Diodorus was in trouble, and either he died in the arena or Demetrius inflicted a wound that led to his death shortly thereafter.”

We can’t speculate on if the ref is somehow related to Steve Mazzagatti or if Douglas Crosby was overseeing the fight, but it’s funny if we do.

(props Bloody Elbow)