Today’s Olympics, including summer and winter, feature approximately 400 events. They include synchronized swimming, curling, ping pong, sailing, handball, rowing, rugby, shooting, tennis, fencing, hockey, luge, water polo, cycling, basketball, diving, golf, handball, archery, kayak slalom, Nordic combined skiing, volleyball, ice figure shaking, speed skating, trampoline, badminton and endless gymnastics. With medals for a second and third place and the mixing of team events, there are thousands of Olympics medal winners per four years. The 2012 London Olympics merited 52 athletes for boxing – 13 gold, 13 silver, and 26 bronze medals.
There had been boxing contests in the 1500’s BCE, and likely older than that, but 800’s BCE was approximately the period of the first official Olympics. For 100+ years there was only one Olympics champion per four years. Track and field, specifically running, was the only event. In 776 BCE, the first recorded Olympics champion was the Grecian runner, Coroebus of Elis. By 720 BCE there were three runner events. The Olympics of 708 BCE added the ultimate track and field event, the pentathlon, along with wrestling. The Olympics of 688 BCE added a 2nd non-track and field event, boxing.
The origin of the Olympics has an almost comical scholarly approach by historians. The official Grecian Olympics site: “It was created by the mythical figure of Herakles, son of Zeus.” The Olympics could have been created by a person, or a group of persons, but it is impossible for it to be created by a myth. This sort of non-sense treats the Olympics athletes before the birth of Jesus as cartoon characters. The legend of BCE Olympics boxing champions could lead to magical fantasy. There are stories about the statues of dead boxing champions killing mortals. There are stories of boxing champions whose parents were rivers. There are stories of Olympics boxing champions hundreds of years AFTER the death of Onomastos turning into wolves. Demarchus, son of Dinytas, the 400 BCE Olympics boxing champion, from modern Arcadia, Greece, lived in legend amongst those who insisted he turned into a wolf as a sacrifice to Zeus Lykaios for nine years before returning as a human form. For purpose of sanity, I must insist that future 4-time Olympics boxing champion, Onomastos, was produced by the combination of a zygote, via human sperm, and neither parent was a river or wolf.
When Onomastos won the first Olympics boxing championship in 688 BCE there must have been bedlam from the male spectators. Running and jumping and throwing a disc had its own sort of sports excitement. Wrestling added the science of physical dominance. But the addition of boxing to the Olympics as a sport of respectability proved the Champion as reputation within a frightening, exciting, world of athletic violence. The same day Onomastos became a boxing Olympian Champion, as spectators wildly applauded, he was presented a palm branch as symbolism and reward for his victory. Red ribbons were wrapped around his head and hands. There was no doubt boxing would survive as an Olympics event, but perhaps could be civilized with an official assortment of rules. “Sportsmanship” is the key because otherwise boxing would never be allowed for the Olympics. People of 2013 somehow fantasize an ancient world of savage animals posed as humans that expired with modern society. Perhaps the opposite is true – and the world is so dishonest in 2013 – that a civility of the psyche has been lost in evolution for the survival of the human species versus animals – with humans as a digressively compassionate animal intent upon inhumane dominance. More athletes failed drug tests at the Vancouver 2010 winter and London 2012 summer Olympics than won championships during the 740, 736, 732, 728, 724, 720, 716, 712, 708, 704, 700, 696, 692 and 688 BCE Olympics combined.
The first Olympics boxing champion was from the modern Izmir, Turkey region. Pausanius: “At the twenty-third Festival they restored the prizes for boxing, and the winner was Onomastos of Smyrna, which was already a part of Ionia.” Philostratus: “Onomastos conquered as best boxer and thus linked the name of Smyrna with a glorious deed. For at one stroke Smyrna surpassed all cities of Ionia and Lydia, all on the Hellespont and in Phrygia, and all nations which inhabit Asia, and won first the Olympian crown of victory.” These cities are modern Turkey land covering Anatolia and elsewhere.
The 688 BCE Olympics victory for Onomastos might have similarity to American John L. Sullivan’s bare-knuckle victory over Irish heavyweight champion, Paddy Ryan in 1882. Boxing changed forever, with only two deviations, as Sullivan promptly announced he was a gloved boxer and that future championships would follow another (Marquess of Queensbury) set of rules. Bare-knuckle English champion, Jack Broughton (a proponent of gloves) altered boxing rules following the death of his opponent in 1743. Onomastos was obligated to win the 688 BCE boxing Olympics under primitive conditions. With the massive fame and respect that a Jack Broughton or John L. Sullivan earned as “heavyweight champion” it appears Onomastos utilized much the same.
In 684 BCE, Onomastos successfully defended his Olympics boxing championship. It would be one of the most important Olympics for boxing throughout the past 2700 years. Philostratus: “(Onomastos) wrote rules for boxing, which the Eleans observed on account of the expert knowledge of the boxer; and the Arcadians were not offended that they were bound by contest rules which had their origin in effeminate Ionia.” Elia and Arcadia remain part of modern Greece. It would be stunning in 684 BCE or 2013 for modern Greece to concede a Turk as an expert at sports or anything. The neighbor regions change names, but the attitudes remain intact. Onomastos must have impressed many with inherit moral fairness to break through prejudices and stereo-typecasts.
Besides modern Turkey, the nation most likely to produce an Onomastos opponent would have been – in probability order – the modern Greece, Italy or Egypt. There is no factual identifiable bout involving Onomastos, but there are bouts recorded thousands of years ago which allow creative freedom. A 684 BCE Onomastos boxing bout might have been similar, via 3rd century BCE poet, Theocritus: “The cunning of (Onomastos) outwent the mighty man, and those beams did fall full in (the challenger)’s face. So goes master (Onomastos) in high dudgeon forward with many outs and leveling of fists. But (the challenger) was ready and caught him a blow on the point of the chin; (the results) did encourage him on and make him (aggressive) with his fighting, so that he went head down and full tilt.” The crowd was cheering passionately equal for both sides. Onomastos would have already been the most famous and respected pugilist in history so thus would have many admirers. But the underdog giving the Champion, with an invincible reputation, a fight and not displaying fear would have greatly excited spectators. It is possible that Onomastos, at the peak of his boxing skills, easily overwhelmed intimidated opponents who surrendered easily. But as Onomastos defended the honor of Smyrna (Izmir) other boxers would have been defending their region – and possibly pride and confidence encouraged a better boxing bout. Theocritus: “But (Onomastos) was quicker and stood up to him first on this side and then on that, and touched him left and right and left again; and for all his puissance (the challenger) withstood this onset, inasmuch as he stood drunken with his drubbing and spit out the crimson blood.” The crowd would be wildly cheering the moment Onomastos had an opponent battered and near defeat. The champion in the Theocritus boxing bout prepared to finish off his opponent with aggressive feints.
The pugilists of 684 BCE – under the leadership of Onomastos – displayed the same behavior as 2013: talking to one another inside the arena, strategy with feints and defense, aggressiveness and patience along with a second to assist. It is unclear when umpires were introduced to Olympics boxing because at some point fouls led to fines and/or disqualification. But for the most part, boxing 2700 years ago was remarkably similar to today. Theocritus: “(The spectators were cheering) by reason to the grievous bruises (the challenger) had both by cheek and jowl; for the eyes were all too (protruding) with the puffing of their sockets. Next (Onomastos) maze his man awhile with sundry feints and divers passes all about, and then, as soon as he had him all abroad, let drive at him to the bone, and laid him flat long among the flowers.”
A 684 BCE boxing knockdown would possess more civility than a gloved knockdown of the 1870’s – 1920’s. A bare-knuckle knockdown of the 1720’s – 1880’s allowed a thirty seconds timed break. Gloved knockdowns until the mid-reign of heavyweight Champion, Jack Dempsey, allowed a pugilist to hover over an opponent and punch immediately upon a knee rising from the ground – with only ten seconds for a downed boxer. Boxing before the birth of Onomastos and after allowed an opponent an untimed opportunity to stand. Bouts were fights-to-the finish: “(The challenger), as who should achieve one great thing, come from his ward, and with his left hand grasp (Onomastos)’s left, and going in with the other, drive the flat of his hand from his right flank. And had the blow come home, he had wrought harm to the (Champion of Smyrna/Izmir). But lo! (Onomastos) slips his head aside and the same moment struck out forth-right from the shoulder and smote him under the left temple; and from that gaping temple the red blood came spurting. Then (Onomastos)’s left hand did beat him in the mouth, so that the rows of teeth in it cracked again; aye, and an ever livelier patter of the fists did maul the face of (the challenger) till his visage was all one mash. Then down went (the challenger) in a heap and lay like to swoon upon the ground; and up with both his hands for to cry the battle off.”
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The rise of Turkey as 21st century economic power began with the father of the nation, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The decision to allow gender equality – reward farmers and encourage production of food – emphasize education along with improved literacy – altering the alphabet from Arabic to Latin for better relations with economic trading partners were the backbone of reform. Decisions such as allowing Turkish women to dress as they choose seemed radical compared to other Muslim nations. Ataturk acknowledged his loyalty was to Turkey the nation, with religion secondary. As decades passed, other Muslim nations continued with Arabic while expressing loyalty to their nation secondary, with expected results. The economy and lack of unemployment strengthened and distanced Turkey from its Muslim and formerly Russia (U.S.S.R.) dominated Christian neighbors. Long-term economic patience met with a fragile democracy at times after Ataturk’s death in 1938, until a headstrong former mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, became Prime Minister in August 2001. The rise of Turkey’s economy in contrast to the collapse of others, including the United States of America, is not coincidental. When nations concentrate on their economy it grows – but growth and better living breeds moral discontent – so one group of liberals cannot think of enough ways to flush money down the toilet – while another group of conservatives insist their morality was the cause of economic gain which leads to a crumbled democracy and stalled economy. Prime Minister Erdogan may have a dual legacy as the man who paved the way for Turkey’s international prominence when he concentrated on the economy, while also as the man who damaged a strong economy when he decided his morality should be imposed as to what Turks eat, read, view, attire, pray with autocratic rule.
Prime Minister, Erdogan, has always had an ambivalent, bordering on misogynist relationship with women. Erdogan has expressed his goal to eliminate Ataturk’s progress and influence, to return the nation for his idealization of the Ottoman Empire male superiority. Erdogan has expressed that women should never be allowed to serve in government; should have their faces covered in public; education abolished for women who should be forced to be housewives. Erdogan: “(Turkish women) should have at least three kids in order to prevent our young generation to be reduced.” In 2009, Erdogan banned YouTube for months because he viewed it as a bad influence on Turkish youth. In 2013, Erdogan limited alcohol sales and hoped to re-introduce his Islamic poems into Turkish textbooks as fact. Liberty was not being demolished in Turkey with one act – but a series of acts – with discontentment growing amongst all classes throughout the nation.
On May 31st, 2013, Erdogan shocked the world by pepper-spraying sixty peaceful, 20ish female and male students at Taksim Square protesting his anti-environmental plans to destroy Gezi Park trees to install a shopping mall that would include an Ottoman Empire tribute with military-styled barracks. Within hours, hundreds of Istanbul university students had gathered to protest government tyranny at Taksim Square. Ceren Sultan Altay is a medical student at Yeditepe University who is also president of European Medical Students Association (6/01/2013): “I’m at Taksim (Square) and the only thing I can say – THIS IS REVOLUTION!! Police threw pepper gas just in front of me. I was almost dying. We are going to move until morning…. Today it’s harsher than any times. We are still here and resist…. I cried all night. Police KILL people!!”
During Arab Spring in Cairo, President Mubarak closed down all social media. So I visited my Egyptian friends on Facebook and shared their videos, via Phoenix, Arizona of police violence on my USA page. Once again, my part is minor, but I am assisting with the Turkish ‘underground’. When Erdogan banned YouTube, my Turkish friends learned – and taught me – all sorts of creative video sharing ideas. For Taksim Square the Turkish police began to monitor Facebook and Twitter, but they knew little of social media. It was cat-and-mouse as anonymous Turkish friends sent me information through diverse social media which then I shared: “If you can reach protesters tell them Divan Hotel is letting people stay for free. Tell them to stay out of Tunnel because police are hiding there to arrest people.” There is something happening, but you don’t know what it is – do you, Mr. Erdogan?
Marwa El-Shabrawy was pepper sprayed while participating in Arab Spring protests in Cairo. She currently is a managing partner at a medical laboratory: “I know the reason for all the demonstrations across the country is the violent dealing with citizens which is not accepted at all. I don’t know why Erdogan insists on this project (destruction of Gezi Park trees) and refuses to listen to his people. He is stupid. I don’t like what he is doing with Kurds. He has always dealt with them violently. He is a hero for achieving progress in Turkey but it is not an excuse to do what he wants whenever he wants. I hate violence, so he must choose between strong economy or progress…. I think studying is very boring and pepper spray is more fun. To be inside one of the demonstrations is an amazing feeling. I miss it so much…. So what do you think we should do with Mubarak and Morsi?? (President Mubarak was overthrown during Arab Spring while President Morsi was overthrown shortly after this message on July 3rd). I guess we should hang them for what they did to us. We are suffering from ignorance, illiteracy, poverty and lack of awareness…. I hope Ceren and all your Turkish friends will be okay but I don’t think the demonstration is about the square that Erdogan wants to convert into a new project but it is about liberty and democracy. Police officers have dealt violently with citizens. I wish them all the best and to be safe.”
Ceren Sultan Altay: “I have the side effects of tear gas; diarrhea, vomiting and fatigue. I was so tired today…. Arab Spring made everything worse because they wanted the government to fall and America put in new one instead. And yet, we don’t want government to fall and America use this opportunity. We just want to frighten Erdogan. We want him to give our freedom. He cannot do anything when he wants. We have not said anything until now. Now, we exactly express what we want even though he still resist against understanding this…. Taksim is ours and they cannot ruin it.”
Prime minister, Erdogan (6/9/2013): “We won’t do what a handful of looters have done. They burn and destroy…. They destroy the shops of civilians. They destroy the cars of civilians. They are low enough to insult the prime minister of this nation…. The first lesson through democracy means in the ballot box…. We cannot leave the streets for anarchists and terrorists to roam.” Erdogan has called protesters several names translated to English: “looters” “bums” “fringe element of society” but it’s the word “capulcu”, translated into English as “marauders” that has become the rallying call for those disenfranchised with the increased bullying by an autocratic tyrant.
Ceren Sultan Altay (Facebook public message to her mother): “Police kill young people in Ankara, Izmir, Dersim and Antakya. The orders were just in the way of throwing pepper gasses and applying pressured water, but they killed people by their own guns. How can a human being do this to another human being? Are they insane? In addition, when they catch one of us, they beat him to the death. They say, ‘Are you going to save the country son of a bitch?’ You taught me to protect and save the purity of our nation. Don’t – I’m going to save it when the government tries to fuck it, Mother?”
Ceren’s original post was in Turkish, and although Ataturk converted Turkey to a Latin alphabet, it is not easy to translate perfectly to English. On June 5th, 2013, Erdogan’s police arrested 25 protesters from the Izmir (Smyrna) region of Onomastos for using the social media, Twitter. Erdogan: “There is now a menace which is called Twitter. The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.” Of course, Erdogan has his own Twitter account and often tweets, so maybe it is true.
Selver Hursitoglu’s Papa is an example that Erdogan has become too intrusive. Her Papa is from Bulgaria and moved to Bursa, Turkey for better life. Her Papa’s loyalty and patriotism is solely for Turkey. His daughters, Embyie and Selver, were born in Bulgaria but taught by their Mama and Papa to be 100% patriotic Turkish and nothing else. The Hursitoglu family observes all Muslim and Turkish holidays and traditions. Papa is the major breadwinner while Mama (who also works) and Grandmama run their house-hold. Papa and Mama work so their daughters can be provided an education. Embyie graduated from Canakkale Mart University (the location for Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey”) on June 19th while Selver’s graduation is one year away. For Father’s Day on June 16th, Papa had to work the entire day. When he returned home on his day, after hugs and kisses from wife and daughters, Embyie cooked and prepared Norway mackerel fish, uskumru, that is popular in Turkey. Selver baked Italian dessert cake, tiramisu. Papa likes to eat quietly without smiling while women supply the household’s joy and humor. When dinner is concluded Papa enjoys television with two glasses of raki. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk enjoyed raki and this humanized him with the Turkish people. Raki’s tradition in Turkey dates from the Ottoman Empire to the founding of this modern nation. Some raki is produced by Izmir figs that Onomastos enjoyed 2700+ years ago. Prime Minister, Erdogan, has decided no Muslim should drink alcohol so when a Turkish man (or woman) returns home from eight hours work could have yoghurt as an alternative. Selver’s Papa works six days a week – eight hours a day – forty-five hours with three hours overtime pay. Who is Erdogan to decide Selver’s Papa is a good or bad Muslim? Who is Erdogan to condescendingly suggest a Turkish man eat yoghurt after eight hours work? Who is Erdogan to insist Embyie and Selver should not attend college and instead have exactly three children as if they are human reproduction machines? Mama and Grandmama would kill Selver (not really – they would be disappointed) if she protested because they do not want her injured and believe any protest against Turkey’s Prime Minister is disrespectful and unpatriotic, but Selver admires the Taksim Square government resistance so wonders should she be doing more.
Selver Hursitoglu (from BULGARIA but would fight you heart-and-soul if you say she is not 100% patriotic Turkish devoted to Atautk and Muslim women’s rights): “As we all know, the movement of people in Turkey has been started at Taksim (Square) and spread throughout the nation. The person in Turkey could not learn these things from local media and instead we learned by viewing foreign media on the internet. This is definitely tragicomic situation. Our own people used bad, but right words. Actually our (uncourageous or untruthful) media taught us the meaning of irresponsibility…. Turkey has democracy principles and it has to stay alive. When the government restrict – just like this – the government encounters the will of people. But we are in the era of globalization. Life is so fluid, mobile and active. We can learn anything we want so easy and fast. I believe this moment did not started just for change in Taksim. A lot of events bring us here today. Maybe as other nations (Arab Spring) tried to do recently to remove symbols. In my opinion, Taksim is place of resistance. The nation who rules with democracy and same time ignores wishes of people – close ears for don’t hear what they want and when someone going to say ‘but’ if you eat the tear gas – I’m sorry but nobody cannot open his mouth about democracy…. The voice of people can be silenced by pressure and oppression? Well, it is testing now on Turkey. Sure, some provocateurs tried to use this situation and this can never be tolerated. Never! But I believe that, too, everything is not as it seems. In the world power system, surely, there is secret rules processing. The nations playing chess. We always liked to comment without true information or liked to believe (Turkish or BBC) lie news. I believe if the (Erdogan) government had apologized with goodwill after the first time (May 31st), this would not come to these days. But finally, I strongly believe this has been launched by conspiracy-minded people. Because Turkey always have problems, just like terrorism, PKK (Parti Karkerani Kurdistan), Syria and EU (European Union) …. And the people who don’t want to leave Turkey without have problems. They say there is no problems, especially about PKK and now this is started, because this all comes from they don’t want to see Turkey as central power in the Middle-East.
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The Sicilian poet, Publius Vergilius Maro, wrote a poem more than 2000 years ago that describes a boxing bout involving immigrant Turks (Truvans) hundreds of years before his birth: “The son of Anchises brought of gloves of like weight with equal weight bound the hands of both. Straightway each took his stand, poised on his toes, and, undaunted, lifts his arms high in the air. Raising their heads high and drawing them back for blows, they spar, hand with hand, and provoke the fray, the one nimbler of foot and confident of his youth, the other mighty in massive limbs. Yet his slow knees totter and tremble while a painful gasping shakes his huge frame. Many hard blows they launch at each other to no avail, but many they rain on hollow flank, while their chests ring loudly hands flash about ears and brows, and cheeks rattle under the hard strokes.” Vergil offers a hint of an effective Onomastos knockout victory upon an opponent 2700 years ago: “His feeble knees trembling – head sways from side to side – while he spat from his mouth clotted gore and teeth mingled with the blood.”
During 680 BCE, Onomastos became the first official 3-time Olympics champion in any sport. The 680 BCE Olympics added chariot racing as an event. This is significant because the Olympics now contained the identical sporting events as Homer’s, Iliad. Onomastos brought tremendous fame to the former Smyrna region itself. It is unknown exactly the years Homer lived, but the proximity of Smyrna was near Ionia. Both Onomastos and Homer are from the modern Izmir, Anatolia, Turkey.
It is difficult to conceive of Homer writing about Truvan boxing events of hundreds of years earlier without assistance from modern boxing of his time. Pausanius: “When Iphitus (of modern Ilia, Greece) renewed the (Olympian) games, men had by this time forgotten the ancient tradition, the memory of which revived bit by bit, and as it revived they made additions to the games.” I would think it would be difficult to describe and write about boxing without having witnessed a contemporary bout. Though blind, Homer could have been a boxing admirer, and if he lived in the era of Onomastos would have likely viewed him as a hero. The boxers that Homer described are viewed and treated with respect. Homer described hand wraps and waist bands as attire which would have been consistent with Onomastos. Homer: “First he put a waistband around him and then he gave him some well-cut thongs of ox-hide.” Vergil: “Who dares to join battle with gloves of rawhide.” Philostratus: “Formerly, one was equipped for boxing in the following manner: the four fingers were wrapped with a strap and projected so far that by closing them one could double up the fist. They were held firmly together by a thong which one wore bound round the lower arm as support.”
According to Homer and Theocritus, boxers engaged in “trash talk” thousands of years ago. For someone such as Onomastos such behavior would have been to gain a psychological advantage. The reputation and size of Onomastos might have frightened or concerned an opponent before a boxing bout began. It is natural to boxing – and not necessarily bad sportsmanship – for an intimidation advantage as reward for his championship reign.
Homer described offensive boxing: “The two men being now girt went into the middle of the ring, and immediately fell to; heavily indeed did they punish one another and lay about them with their brawny fists. One could hear the horrid crashing of their jaws, and they sweated from every pore of their skin.” Homer described boxers as having trainers or seconds and it is likely Onomastos shared the same. Homer described offensive boxing punches, which included knockdowns, with bouts concluding upon a boxer knocked unconscious or conceding. Boxing bouts possessed a civility between the contestants, according to Homer, while integrity would have been important to Onomastos.
Homer described a boxing knockout: “(The champion landed a punch) on the jaw…. (The challenger) could not keep his legs; they gave way under him in a moment and he sprang up with a bound, as a fish leaps into the air near some shore that is all bestrewn with sea-wrack, when Boreas furs the top of the waves, and then falls back into deep water.”
It is impossible in 2013 to adequately describe the physical appearance of Onomastos other than general qualities for a champion of the time. Philostratus: “The boxer should have long hands, and a strong forearm and upper arm, powerful shoulders and a long neck. As for the wrists, the thick are heavier for striking; the less thick, mobile and adroit in thrusting. Well-built hips should also support him, for the forward thrust of the hands throws the body off balance, if it does not rest on firm hips.”
In 676 BCE, Onomastos successfully defended his boxing dominance with a 4th Olympics victory. Vergil communicated the words of an aging boxing champion: “No cowardice has banished love of honor or thought of renown. But my blood is chilled and dulled by sluggish age and my strength of body is numb and lifeless.” The poem implies an older Onomastos-type Champion who comprehends the hubris and braggart quality of his younger self which dominated boxing in the 680’s BCE era.
Vergil described the boxing defense of an older, experienced pugilist by preserving energy: “Solidly stands (Onomastos), motionless, an unmoved stance, shunning blows with body and watchful eyes alone.” But Vergil would suggest the 3-time Olympics champion did not possess his previous advantage as the experienced large fighter steps forward with a hard punch to top of head that the younger pugilist easily evades. The physics momentum of the awkward punch exposes the experienced boxer off balance until he falls to ground. Hopefully, such embarrassment never happened upon Onomastos, but then again it is the human element of boxing failure that defines a true champion. One insurmountable truth of boxing in 676 BCE or 2013 is that pugilists rarely conclude their career undefeated. Boxers, especially the greatest champions, usually have one bad day, or the wrong styled opponent, or just one fight too many and not knowing when to quit. Onomastos probably lost a boxing bout sometime in his career, but no defeat is recorded, though the courage of any athlete is never in the humiliation of falling, but rising again after the fall. Perhaps the fear of defeat inspired a champion such as Onomastos – to once more feel the conceit as hubris underdog – to be reminded of the thrill of competition – youthful, boisterous against the world. It would be a less daunting scenario to only defend one’s honor than an entire region. Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey) depended upon Onomastos for their identity, as proof the people of the land were not “effeminate” (a horrible metaphor for weak) and would never surrender. The older pugilist in Vergil’s tale arose to feet – and perhaps his mother or sister or women of the region were partially responsible for why he stood once again.
In Vergil’s boxing tale – as an addition to Homer’s tales of Truva (Canakkale, Turkey) – the experienced boxer displayed a final burst of pride. The better boxers before the birth of Jesus would compete in as many as seven Olympics with none winning more than three times. Undoubtedly, there was heartbreak for the talented boxer who competed repeatedly throughout his life but never won. Other competing games in alternative years allowed boxers an opportunity for prize money and glory elsewhere. It is not unreasonable to assume the most difficult Olympics victory for Onomastos was the last, but it is impossible to know. If he was the young conquering hero of the 688 BCE Olympics then the aging process for the final glory was a different athlete and era. The fame, money and glory that Onomastos brought to boxing would have encouraged an ambitious group of young, aggressive pugilists. But for fun – and without an actual bout to work – allow Vergil’s aging champion service as an Onomastos twin: “(Onomastos) returns keener to the fray, and arouses violence with wrath. Shame, too, and conscious valor kindle his strength. In fury, he drives (his opponent) headlong over the entire arena, redoubling his blows, now with the right hand, and now with the left.” With the reputation of Onomastos – which would have been greater than Jack Broughton, Jem Belcher, Tom Hyer, John L. Sullivan, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis or Vitali Klitschko at their peak – a second might take pity on his wounded, youthful fighter: “thick as the hail when storm clouds rattle on the roof, so thick are the blows from either hand as (Onomastos) batters (his opponent),” and stopped the fight.
Champions were often immortalized – or at least an attempt – with a statue inscribed by a poet. An Onomastos statue inscription might have read, via Pausanius: “My fatherland is Smyrna (Izmir) and my name is Onomastos; I am the son of (so-and-so), and I won four Olympic victories for boxing.” Two of the seven wonders of the Ancient World were in modern Turkey and now lay in ruins, which would likewise be the fate for any such Onomastos tribute 2600+ years ago.
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Ahmed Yehia participated in the Arab Spring overthrow of President Mubarak. He lives and furthers his education in Istanbul, but was visiting family in Cairo when Taksim Square protests began: “Sure, one-hundred percent I am supporting the protesters. The Turkish police is very stupid, violent and wild. So I am supporting the protesters as are most Egyptians. But they do not need a revolution in Turkey like Egypt and Tunisia. Maybe they need political reform only.”
On June 10th and 11th, 2013, Prime Minister, Erdogan, utilized force to conclude a Gezi Park protest as thousands of Turkish patriots were pepper-sprayed while blasted with water cannons out of Taksim Square. By the 12th the protesters returned again as the world witnessed a psychological clash of wills. Americans began linking the protesters as “Turkey’s Woodstock Generation” with the singing/chanting of peace and love while sitting on the ground and performing guitar. Gezi Park had become a commune with tents and shared meals and drink. Protesters such as Ceren Sultan Altay with other medical friends tended to the eyes and lungs of those attacked. Vendors, in free enterprise spirit, sold protesters and curious tourism food, drinks and gas masks.
On June 12th, thousands of Turkish lawyers wearing black walked out of courthouses in solidarity to support the protests. The lawyers wanted to prove the protesters were not criminals, but everyday citizens. In Ankara, police handcuffed and threw to the ground scores of lawyers. Allegedly, several were beaten at police headquarters. Head of Ankara Lawyer Association, Sema Aksoy: “Lawyers cannot be illegally detained and dragged along the ground.”
Prime Minister, Erdogan (6/13/2013): “Our patience is at an end. I am making my warning for the last time. I say to the mothers and fathers please take your children in hand and bring them out … Gezi Park does not belong to occupying forces but to the people…. It is as if the whole of Turkey is on fire, as if the whole of Turkey is collapsing.”
Ceren Sultan Altay: “Erdogan is still making mistakes instead of listening to us or apologizing. He uses Islam to gather his people and treat them like they are soldiers of Islam. WTF?? Are we atheists? Are we religion enemies?? We are fascism and oppression enemies. Just this! Erdogan should apologize! His people are hiding behind the police’s back and beat us. We live in the same nation and Erdogan divided us into two. People voted for him and others not voted for him.”
On June 15th, Prime Minister, Erdogan attacked peaceful Turkish citizens again as police pepper-sprayed and water blasted the protesters from Taksim Square. Istanbul began to resemble a war-torn city with buildings destroyed and streets ablaze in fire. Ceren Sultan Altay: “Dear Chris, the clashes have been going on till morning. Now, it seems it’s relieved. Last night has been the worst of these fifteen days. It was like mass murder. Hopefully, none have been killed but many injured. There cannot be any excuse to explain this situation. Excessive force, excessive tear gasses, excessive pressured water. It is oppression…. Erdogan still says he will release his supporters on us! What does it mean? We will kill each other? This what he wants? We will resist until he quits insisting destroy Gezi Park.”
Prime Minister, Erdogan (6/16/2013): “They say, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, you are too harsh,’ and some call me ‘dictator’…. I did my duty as Prime Minister. Otherwise, there would be no purpose for my being in office.” Turkish unions voted for a one-day strike to support the rights of protesters. Pockets of the union protesters were water-cannoned and pepper-sprayed while others were left alone. These were older, middle-aged working-class protesters banging drums and holding hands while promising a return to work the following day. Supporters of Erdogan – immoral traitors of Ataturk – chanted that the police should begin breaking bones of the protesters until they submit.
On June 17th, Erdogan threatened to send in the Turkish army to do whatever they must to destroy the environmental protests. That night protesters, including Ceren Sultan Altay, returned to Taksim Square. The Turkish television media had mostly ignored the story or lied to the people. Ceren sent a message at two in the morning: “Yesterday and two days ago we were in worst police attack. It was terrible. We were in Gezi (Park) and they started to attack and then we had to go back and they burned our tents. After that police were everywhere and we could not get organized and gathered. There were also some people who support Erdogan threatening with knives. Yet, tonight something strange and interesting happened. There is a man who is standing and looking at Ataturk’s photo on building for five hours. This is the new way of resistance. Oh God! Police has just arrested him. We are watching him live.” I send Ceren’s updates to other Turkish friends – at their request – so they know the truth. It is ‘underground’ communication for those not at Taksim Square. Ceren: “During our resistance on the streets 4 people were killed, 11 people lost their lives, 6 people get in coma, nearly 7,000 people were injured. They also arrested lawyers and doctors voluntary to help injured. I don’t know where we are going to. I inhaled lots of pepper gasses, but this is the only way to take our nation from fascist hands. They will intervene and we will resist. They will intervene and we will resist with humor. The (silent) standing man set his bag down and stood for four hours, joined by new standers as the hours passed, and then a few thousand more-people scattered across (Taksim) square standing still and not moving a muscle. Police approached the man and checked his bag and searched his pockets. Then they leave him alone since he is not actively protesting. The power of passive activism is immense!” The protesters turn their back to police to silently stare at a wall portrait of Ataturk, who is surrounded by Turkey flags. While Ceren returns to protesting at Taksim Square, I send her Vachel Lindsay’s poem, The Broncho That Would Not Be Broken.
Ceren Sultan Altay (6/21/2013): “The protests are not over. They don’t allow us to get to the Gezi Park. There are lots of policemen there, but people have been gathering at different parks. There have been meetings every night and people have been sharing their ideas about the future of Turkey. Yesterday night, a group of (punks) attacked a park in Yenikoy. The group composed of people younger than 18. We found their Twitter accounts and their earlier posts about this attack. Then we published their names and posts as screen shots. Then they realized it and took step back. They are very young and cowards.”
On June 22nd, Erdogan announced the Taksim Square protests were not by Turkish citizens, but foreign infiltrators. Erdogan insisted these spies from unnamed nations are also the ones who led Brazilian protests days earlier. Erdogan: “The same game is being played over Brazil. The symbols is the same – the posters is the same – Twitter, Facebook is the same – the international media is the same. They are being led from the same center. They are doing their best to achieve in Brazil what they could not achieve in Turkey. It is the same trap, the same aim, the same game.” The same day, Ceren and other Turkish protesters gathered in Taksim Square laying down carnations for those killed and wounded. After two hours of chants, Turkish police – without tear gas – water cannoned Ceren and her friends out of the square. Police blasted patriots down the street like salmon swimming upstream. Erdogan (June 23rd): “Yesterday, they wanted to occupy (Taksim Square) again. The police were patient up to a certain point. When they did not leave police forced them out.”
Something no friend ever must do, but I requested Ceren, whom I love as my sister and family to explain being pepper-sprayed by Turkish police for this story.