Residents of Trier, Germany's oldest city, have become accustomed to the sounds of battle cries and metal on metal as more and more citizens join the city's gladiator school in its 2000-year-old Roman arena.
The sport is real. Beginning fighters use wooden weapons, while the more experienced wield battle axes, swords, spears and casting nets. "We are sometimes laughed at," said actor Jan Kruger, whose nickname is Animus. "Bruises and bloody noses are part of the deal. But we fight honourably, just like the real gladiators did."