ATHENS – Pankration, the world’s oldest martial art, dating back to 648 B.C. in Greece, was once a formidable hand-to-hand combat technique used in the Olympics, but now, the champions are Americans.
In the recent 9th Pankration World Championships held in the Greek capital, a team consisting of members from small towns in the upper Midwest of the United States won easily.
Pankration is a martial art that combines wrestling and boxing, and it is a devastating weapon up close against an opponent. It is one of the most brutal forms and dates back 2300 years before Karate.
The USA team, with seven members, was coached by Dave Sixel from Eagle River, Wisconsin, who heads the USA Federation of Pankration Athlima. The team won 30 gold medals in the event, making history.
Sixel, who once competed in the event, said he was proud of his team’s accomplishments. He noted that everyone won a medal in a martial art that was created by the Ancient Greeks.
“It was long, long days of competition, no injuries, and we’re very blessed to know that we had a great team, great staff members and referees, my parents that came along. Everybody, we just clicked. I’m so impressed with our team,” he said.
The medal count was 30 gold, 11 silver, and 9 bronze. Sixel said this achievement was historic, especially coming from a team consisting of people from small towns up north in the state that’s known for college hockey.