Gladiators were professional fighters in ancient Rome who fought against each other, wild animals, and condemned criminals, sometimes to the death, for the entertainment of spectators. These fights took place in arenas in many cities from the Roman Republic period through the Roman Empire.
Different gladiators specialized in different weapons, and it was usual to pair off combatants with widely different, but more or less equivalent, equipment. As a rule Gladiators only fought others from within the same school or troupe but sometimes specific Gladiators could be requested to fight one from another troupe.
Almost all gladiators wore a balteus (or belt) to keep their subligaculum (loincloth) snug to their body or hold a dagger. Many (like our example) had metal plates riveted to the leather not just for visual appeal, but also for added protection to the wearer's abdomen.