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Melvin Potter, better known to the world as The Gladiator, was a costume designer who held a grudge against costumed superheroes and dreamed of one day defeating them. He constructed a new costume which featured deadly wrist blades, razor boots, body armor and a helmet and then went under the guise as "Gladiator" when Foggy Nelson went to Potter to make a Daredevil costume to convince Karen Page, the girl of his dreams, that he was actually the crimson hero. However, when he faced Potter in combat, he was knocked out in a single blow, but after the real Daredevil arrived, the Gladiator was soundly defeated.
After his defeat at the hands of Daredevil, he joined forces with the mysterious Masked Marauder. He also once joined Electro's Emissaries of Evil to battle Daredevil together as a Team. After several failed attempts to bring about Daredevil's demise, and after the Marauder's death, Melvin Potter then occasionally harassed Daredevil. It wasn't until a woman named Betsy helped him and convinced Melvin to give up his criminal career that he then served as a bodyguard to a blind lawyer named Matt Murdock, who was ironically Daredevil.
He was coerced into betraying Daredevil when he killed two inmates and a guard and found an old Gladiator suit in his hideout in the sewers.
For reasons only understood by his own demented mind, the madman who called himself the Gladiator took an entire museum hostage, ranting about the unjust imprisonment of Nurhachi, presumably referring to the 16th century founder of the Manchu Dynasty (a.k.a. Geren Gurun Be Ujire Genggiyen or "Brilliant Emperor Who Benefits All Nations").
By the time Spider-Man arrived, the Gladiator had already killed at least one security officer. Declaring "the Emperor" had given the attack signal, Gladitor shot blades from his gauntlet at Spider-Man, destroying several priceless artifacts when the hero dodged. He avoided Gladiator's next blow just as easily, and the madman's gauntleted fist shattered a concrete pillar instead. Spider-Man landed on Gladiator's shoulders and pounded away at him, but was dislodged when blades sprang from Gladiator's pauldrons. As the hero leapt away, Gladiator grabbed his leg and threw his opponent through some display cases. Tangled in some ropes, Spider-Man was unable to dodge the next set of blades Gladiator fired. As Gladiator moved in for the killing blow, the injured Spider-Man webbed his eyes and repeatedly bashed a metal stand over his head, knocking Gladiator out.