Ancient Roman Sports

The ancient Romans participated in several sports events including outdoor and indoor activities. The Romans also emulated the ancient Greeks by involving themselves in the Greek sports activities which transformed their physical strength and ability to endure.

The rich Romans possessed large fields and facilities popularly referred to as “gymnasia and palaestra” in their various residences. These sports activities usually took place in the villas of the wealthy Romans and were considered to be a significant symbol for the wealthy.

The people’s interest in sports increased during the era of Emperor Nero. During his era, the very first gymnasium for public use was established. As time rolled by, brutal sports and great amphitheaters became a significant trademark of the Romans.

Rome was under the reign of Emperor Nero from 37 AD – 68 AD, and during his tenure as a ruler, there was a drastic increase in the patronage of sports. As a result of this increase, several great amphitheaters were established for varieties of sports especially the brutal gladiator’s contest.


  • Chariot racing is one of the most famous sports among several Roman sports. They took place in Greece and can be said to be a source of inspiration from which the chariot racing evolved. It is known to be one of the major events of the ancient Olympic games. Chariot races can occur between 2 different teams in which each team was being supported financially by several groups. These games led to so many disputes between supporters of different teams and it even resulted in political conflicts. As time when on, officials were assigned to make sure these sports events occurred peacefully.
  • Gladiators contest were part of the most brutal and bloody Roman sports. Gladiators would dress up in armed combatants and would entertain the audience through murderous fights with other gladiators. In some occasions, these gladiators would fight against wild animals. Lots of them were slaves who grew through hardship and they are being segregated all through life and death. Romans loved the sight of bloodshed exhibited by these gladiators because they do display the martial philosophy of ancient Rome.
  • Pugilatus was the name given to boxing by the ancient Romans and it was also recognized to be one of the most popular sports. The rules and regulations of this sport were quite different from this present-day boxing because fighters were allowed to hit any part of their opponent’s body including their genitals. Like every other Roman sport, endurance and physical strength were often displayed by fighters. The game ends when a fighter retreats or surrender.
  • There were certain sports in ancient Rome that weren’t violent or brutal, they were quite peaceful and pleasant as they tend to entertain kids the most. The most common sports among the ancient Roman children was the Hoop rolling and it remained the same all through the years. This sport also emanated from the Greeks and it was widely referred to as the “Greek Hoop”. Mostly, the venue used for this sport in Rome was Campus Manus.
  • Another peaceful sport of the ancient Romans was the ball game, it was referred to as “Harpastum”. The Romans also described it to be a small ball game because the ball used in these sports was significantly small and it is as small as a softball. This game took its origin from an existing Greek sport known as Phaminda.
  • The ancient Romans had varieties of board games. They include, the instant dice also referred to as “Tesserae”, Roman checkers popularly known as Calculi, Knucklebones which they referred to as Tali or
  • Wrestling Contest also occurred among the ancient Romans and it was divided into 2 aspects which were contests between athletes as long as they stood on their feet and contests between athletes while on the floor. The wrestling comes to an end when an athlete decides to give up.
  • Haltereswere heavy objects made from metal or a series of heavy stones. They were used for exercises. Most athletes used them to keep fit and they do these with their hands the same way dumbbells are being used.


  • Question: What is the name of the Emperor whose under his era, there was a drastic increase in the patronage of sports?
    Answer: Emperor Nero.
  • Question: What name did the ancient Romans give to the ball games?
    Answer: Harpastum.
  • Question: Which of the sports entertained children the most?
    Answer: The Hoop rolling.
  • Question: Which of the Roman board games did they call Calculi?
    Answer: The Roman checkers.