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A brief review of our sources

Reflections and extensions

  

Whoever wakes up in the morning will go far.

Romanian proverb

In order to write the biography of the athlete Panagis Coutalianos, the content of hundreds of articles from newspapers that circulated while the athlete was alive was combined, as well as from various other sources, such as books and testimonies that spoke about him after he had already passed away. The study of the following sources was instrumental in documenting the material and verifying many facts:

a) Aristophanes Newspaper (1884): This is an extensive autobiographical interview given by the athlete recounting the most important events of his life, from the time he was born until the days he returned to Greece in 1884. In this important document, reference is made to what the athlete experienced touring various cities in Europe and Latin America.

b) Sports Echo newspaper (1951): The journalist Timos Moraitis claims that he had discovered the text of the lost biography of Coutalianos. It is reported that the book was circulated in the US among the members of the Greek community in very limited copies. It is also said that the text was written at the dictation of the athlete himself, while he was hospitalized in the hospital in Constantinople and that its writing was completed shortly before he died.

c) Marmarina Nea newspaper (1955): The publisher and editor-in-chief N.S. Lampadaridis continues to publish the extensive text of the “Biography of Coutalianos”, most of which is identical to the one published in Athletic Echo.

d) Patris newspaper (1933): The journalist G. Boukouvalas locates the Greek Coutalianos (son of Panagi) in a poor neighborhood of Piraeus and interviews him. It is an interesting text, through which the most important events of the life of Panagi, as seen by his son, are recounted. It can be quite an interesting testimony, but we detect within it some contradictions and some unconfirmed exaggerations that weaken the reliability of the information. Despite this, it is interesting that Ellin emphasizes the narration of what happened to his father from 1889 onwards. At that time, according to some sources, he must have been a small child (probably four years old), at which point his memory had begun to record various events from his life with his father. This interview is important because it narrates with many details what Panagis encountered while touring various cities of the Russian, Ottoman Empire and Greece

Postcard with a photo of Coutalianos. (Alexandros Soutsos Museum – collection)
Back view of the photo “Purchased by Chris A. Kantsileris in Patras on July 17, 1886 . I saw Panagi up close. A true Hercules of the 18th century”

A big problem that arises when reading these texts is the cross-reference of the names of the athletes that Panagis allegedly faced in various phases of his career. The research becomes quite difficult, given that at that time Greek journalists falsified foreign names to render them in Greek. But even Panagis himself, who was completely illiterate, could not pronounce correctly the names of the foreign athletes he met from time to time and probably did not pay much attention to it. If we did not even verify enough of these names, then it would be very difficult for us not to label all these stories as figments of the imagination of their tellers.

However, no matter how much we tried to penetrate the depth of this story, there were points that remained unclear, such as whether it is true what some sources say that Coutalianos had traveled to Madagascar and the Indies or what the name of his only daughter was. Nevertheless, when one attempts to write a biography of a person who has been dead for over a hundred years, the omission of some details is justified. Judging the credibility of the aforementioned four major biographical sources, one could conclude that they are biased in favor of the athlete

Judging the reliability of the above sources one could conclude that they are biased in favor of the athlete. Nothing of what is written in these texts could convince us, if we did not previously manage to verify enough information with elements caught from newspaper articles, both Greek and foreign, which were published at the time when Panagis Coutalianos lived and traveled as an athlete. Without the existence of these sources, the interviews published in the newspapers Aristophanes (Panagis’s) and Patris (of the Greek’s son) would look like simple autologies and empty words, while the biographical essays published by Athletic Echo and Marmaris News would someone said that they are not very different from Halima’s and Andersen’s fairy tales.

So by following journalistic traces we managed to outline the profile of an athlete who, while he had lived such a glorious and adventurous life, nevertheless remained completely unknown to this day. Because the content of this book may spark discussions and further research, especially among historians of wrestling and weightlifting, we created the PCHAB.GR blog to be a dialogue forum and information bank, the content of which can be expanded continuously. with input from our readers.

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Kostas Michos

Kostas Michos

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