Panagis Coutalianos

The Man

As the strongest athlete of his time, Panagis Coutalianos (1847-1916) is deserving of far more fame than he ever received. Exploiting his profession as sailor, he traveled most of the world, seeking out would-be competitors for public tests of strength in every port. Impossible to defeat in the ring, he overcame dozens of famous strongmen. He shouldered weights that would defeat any modern weightlifter.
Coutalianos was more vulnerable outside the ring, however. Famous athletes shrank from his challenge, avoiding the risk of defeat while maligning or minimizing him in the local press. Panagis grew up in the second half of the 19th century as a Greek in the Ottoman Empire. Nationalism was the dominant ideology of that time, with new nations embracing warfare as the path to successful statehood. Weightlifters and wrestlers became "flag bearers" of their ethnic groups, symbolizing the power of their nation. An athlete who appeared on stage lifting huge weights or winning wrestling matches evoked national pride in his compatriots, and ideally awe in his country’s rivals.
Greece, Coutalianos’s chosen homeland, drew glory and greatness from the distant historical past, but it was a newborn country, small and poor, with a national diaspora then politically insignificant. Greece’s relative obscurity is a key reason Panagis Coutalianos's achievements never earned him the leading place his name deserves in the world sports bibliography. So this blog, by gradually marshalling the historical data that modern digital technology makes accessible, aspires to restore a famous Greek athlete to where he belongs, on the podium of world champion.

The autobiography of Coutalianos, as it was published by his sons in the USA and edited by the scholar G. Kastritsis.

Coutalianos

Introductory statements

Some intresting details “Ι wonder how, without knowing me, you described me so accurately.” Th. Valtinos, Three portraits, ed. Kastaniotis,

Introductory statements

Some intresting details “Ι wonder how, without knowing me, you described me so accurately.” Th. Valtinos, Three portraits, ed. Kastaniotis,

Introductory statements

Some intresting details “Ι wonder how, without knowing me, you described me so accurately.” Th. Valtinos, Three portraits, ed. Kastaniotis,

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The Turkish wrestlers that Coutalianos faced

When the Sultan’s money builds wrestlers’ careers “I never had a conversation with living obstacles that I encountered on my way, they are part of life too, that is how they make their living, only

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funny old newspaper sketch

Ironies and pranks

Underrated versions and reported defeats. “This life is where you make it. No matter what, you’ re going to mess

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Polish wrestler (painted by Kostas Michos), oil on canvas, 123x83cm/ 2022

Thesaurus (treasure) magazine

An autobiographical version “Hope is the tendency to forget the trap.” Nick Karouzos The old Greek magazine “Thesauros” (December 25,

1870. Panagis in Bordeaux

The wrestling school of Bernard Magnelle and the participation of the Greek athlete in the Franco-Prussian war. “If you look

funny old newspaper sketch

Ironies and pranks

Underrated versions and reported defeats. “This life is where you make it. No matter what, you’ re going to mess

1874-1883. USA – South America

A reputation without limits “He handed out newspapers to their parents, some less recent and some more newly released. There

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Τhe novel entitled “Coutalianos” by the author Edmond Laniel.