The Daily Mail recently came out with a piece on match-fixing during ancient wresting competitions. Although not specifically mentioned in the text, the sport in question was rather obviously Pále (πάλη), an event was similar to the modern wrestling sport--with three successful throws necessary to win a match. It was the most popular organized sport in Ancient Hellas and was the first competition to be added to the Olympic Games that was not a footrace. It was added in 700 BC. An athlete needed to throw his opponent on the ground, landing on a hip, shoulder, or back for a fair fall. Biting and genital holds were illegal.

The Daily Mail bases their findings on a the work of historians who have 'deciphered a contract dating from 267AD, between the father and trainers of two teen wrestlers competing in ancient Egypt. It says that Demetrius, the wrestler, must fall three times to concede victory in return for 3,800 drachmas, while other clauses reinforce the contract. The papyrus was discovered in Oxyrhynchus, in Egypt a century ago and has only just been translated by an expert at Kings College London.'

More from the article: Oxyrhynchus lies south-west of Cairo and is considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt; it has yielded a huge collection of papyrus texts from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods of Egyptian history and among them are fragments of plays and the Gospel of Thomas. The city was built around a system of canals and inhabitants dumped their rubbish at nearby sand hills, including lots of written material as Oxyrhynchus was governed bureaucratically by the Greeks and the Romans. Archaeologists have discovered tax returns, census material, receipts, letters about religion, politics, military action and diaries, giving them a thorough picture of everyday life.

In 1896, two young excavators - Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt - from the University of Oxford began to excavate the site and combed through the rubbish. While they were concerned with finding works of high literature, they realised the importance of the discarded everyday material. Some 500,000 papyrus fragments are now kept at the university's Sackler Library; among them the account of match fixing.

The text does not reference ancient Hellas specifically, but it wouldn't be a stretch to consider these practices prevalent in ancient Hellas as well.

The match-fixing in question happened between the father of a wrestler called Nicantinous and the trainers of Demetrius who were set to wrestle in the final of the 138th 'Great Antinoeia', which was a series of games held during a religious festival in Egypt. According tot he contract, Demetrius would be rewarded with 'three thousand eight hundred drachmas of silver of old coinage' if he fell three times and yielded. He would still get his money if the judges realized what was going on and refused to give Nicantinous his victory. In case Demetrius backed out of the deal, his trainers would have to pay a larger sum of money to Nicantinous.

Winners of these types of competitions were often put up for life and honoured as heroes, so it paid to fix matches in this way. The sum of money, Dominic Rathbone, a professor at King's College London who translated the papyrus, says, would have been enough to buy a donkey at best. Why a written contract was drawn up is unclear.