Two gladiators climbed up to the second tier of the 2,000-year-old landmark early Thursday to protest a ban against the costumed panhandlers in and around the Coliseum. The gladiators, decked out in leather tunics and armor, typically ask tourists for money and pose for pictures.
While police were carrying away the two gladiators, costumed supporters intervened and tried to free them at which point, witnesses say, a struggle ensued.
The stunt follows a sit-in staged by costumed gladiators last month after Rome city council initiated a task force to keep them from asking for money around the landmark. They are still permitted to work elsewhere in the city, at other attractions such as the Trevi Fountain or the Renaissance Piazza Navona.
ANSA reported police are stationed at the Coliseum entrance to prevent further disturbances after another gladiator threatened to set himself on fire.