Duel (Gladiators)

Hunter faces a contender on Duel in the original UK series
Year Introduced 1989
Country of Origin  United States
Used In  United States
 United Kingdom
 South Africa
 Arab League
Alternate Names Joust  United States (Original Name)
Last Used present
Number of Contenders 1
Number of Gladiators 1
Weapons Pugil Sticks
Time Limit 30 seconds

Duel (or The Joust in America) is an event played in several incarnations of the television series Gladiators. In this event, a contender and Gladiator engage in battle on raised podiums using pugil sticks. The object is to knock your opponent off.



One Gladiator faces one contender, and on the whistle blow, engage in a 30 second battle. Neither participant is allowed to touch their opponent's platform or deliberately touch their opponent's pugil stick using their hands.

All offensive moves must be made with the pugil sticks; no hand-to-hand combat or kicking is allowed. Both participants must mount an offense, and are not allowed to undertake 30 seconds of pure defensive work.

If a participant is forced to their knees, they must return to a standing position or risk disqualification. A loss of a participant's pugil stick or helmet results in an automatic disqualification.

10 points are awarded for a contender win, 5 for a draw.

International differences

In America, this event is known as 'The Joust', the original name for the event concept. The UK and Australia both opted for the name 'Duel', later bringing in an event called 'Joust'. In Sweden the event was known as Duellen.

Each country has their own differently styled pugil sticks.

Event History


Years active: 1989-1996, 2008-

In the first half of the first series, the event was played on a wooden bridge. Participants met in the middle and engaged in combat. The object was to knock the opponent off or push them back across a line marked on the bridge. In the men's event, a loss incurred by being pushed past the line resulted in a trap door being opened. The concept lated formed the basis for the event Suspension Bridge. In this format, pushing an opponent with the Pugil Stick was legal.

30 points were awarded for competing in the event, 5 points were awarded for every 5 seconds the contender stayed on the bridge (up to a total of 75) with 100 being awarded for a contender win.

The original set up for The Joust

From the second half of the first season, the event was changed into its recognized format of two podiums, but participants were not disqualified for losing their helmets until later.

For the 2008 revival, the podiums were placed above water and joined together by a support bar just below the base of the platform. Furthermore the rules have been changed in that if a Gladiator places two knees on their podium they may be instantly disqualified. Should a contender be dropped to two knees, they must get up but will not be instantly disqualified.


Years active: 1992-1999, 2008-

Over the first few series of the initial run, the podiums were brought closer together to aid the female participants who often did not have the reach required. During series two (1993), Duel appeared less frequently due to the inclusion of two new combat events, Suspension Bridge and Joust. However, by series three (1994), Duel went back to being one of the most frequently appearing events.

A contender loss in this event was marked by the music 'Another one bites the dust' by Queen.

Duel was one of the few events to be played across all eight series, appearing in the very first and last shows, having the distinction of being the last ever event to be played in the initial UK run.

Like America, the 2008 revival saw the event held above water. The music used for a contender loss was changed to 'Hit me baby one more time' by Britney Spears for women and 'Tubthumping' by Chumbawamba for the men.


Hosts Tom Williams and Zoe Naylor introduce Duel in the 2008 Australian series. Note the variation on the pugil sticks

Years active: 1995-1996, 2008-

The 1995 series of Australian Gladiators saw a relaxed approach to many of the rules, with participants not being disqualified for stepping onto their opponents platform or touching their opponents pugil stick. These moves were disallowed from series 2 (1995(ii)) onwards.

Duel returned for the first series of the revival, with the podiums being brought closer together.


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