Here’s a fun (if inaccurate) video! Go ahead and enjoy – when you’re done shaking your tailfeathers, I’ll dispel two common misconceptions:
1) Gladiators did not generally fight to the death. Lethal combat happened, of course, but fighters were expensive to acquire and train, so they were not completely disposable. Successful ones were the NFL and NBA stars of their day. Noble women paid for sexual dalliances with their favorites. Gladiators could earn wealth, fame, and even their freedom. Some men and yes, women, even volunteered to be gladiators due to crippling debt.
2) Thumbs up was death – it was actually a thumb across the throat. Thumbs down meant “put down your sword.”
Fun fact: In addition to posca (vinegar & water, or with added honey if you’ve got the cash), these athletes apparently drank plant ash to help them recover from workouts.