With the whispers of his prowess begun, the gladiator (let us call this one Atretes- after Francine River's reformed gladiator from Sure as the Dawn) would convince the Lanista to promote the games by putting his name in the advertisements. A slave would go around the city painting the ad on walls, "Come watch the games..... Watch Atretes battle three men...".
Once people came to watch him, all Atretes had to do was win. With his fame already in the people's minds, he only had to confirm it. But how would he do this? There were many different types of gladiators, to vary the fights, all determined by the weapons they used. A few were: the Retiarii who fought with tridents and nets, the Murmilliones who fought with a gladius, and the Laquerii who used lassos. Here is a link to a good list.
|Retiarii vs. Secutores|
Why would Atretes put up with being treated like this? Well it could be for fame itself. Many gladiators liked the attention and the women (or men- Romans were well known for some of their citizens' homosexuality). To many a gladiator, it was better being a slave in the arena then a slave in the fields or some such thing. For others it was their one means of freedom.
A gladiator with the support of the mob might survive one or two lost matches just because no one was ready to part with them. If they did, they might make it to the elimination games (the title of which escapes me). In these games, all the best fighters from all the Lanistas in the city and around would fight in elimination rounds. These literally were fights to the death as Atretes can only move on by killing all his opponents. If he is the last one standing, he gains his freedom, able to live his live the way he chooses.
Sadly, with the years he spent fighting and killing in the arena, Atretes will probably not know what to do in society. He will have to buy a wife as no respectable woman would except his proposal. Trained to kill, he will have few skills outside of which in order to gain employment. Likely, he will become a Lanista, a mercenary, or a bodyguard. If he is lucky, his fame might last outside the arena for a few years and he can hire himself out to parties, earning enough money to perhaps buy an inn to host gladiators himself.
P.S. And those of you wondering how Atretes really turns out.. Read the book, it is awesome. I promise, it has a happy ending. Unlike my post.