Pontius Pilate had great interest in gladiators, having himself received training in hand-to-hand combat. And so, he was an avid follower of the Olympic Games.
Out of each annual Olympics held in Rome, a victor emerged, a gladiator slave whose challenge it was to win each day’s mortal combat, and somehow manage to survive the 10-day ordeal. On the final day, he was proclaimed the winner, or "Ecce Homo" (the Latin and Italian words for "Here is the Man"). Once the Emperor had placed a garland of olive branches on his head and pronounced him the new "Ecce Homo", he was a free man, and engaged as an officer in the Emperor’s royal guard.
At the trial of Jesus, Pilate twice pronounced him "Not Guilty" but the Jews loudly protested and threatened rebellion. Pilate, on probation from Tiberius Caesar for having allowed rebellion on two prior assignments, knew he could not afford to allow a third.
Under his threat, he descended the 12 steps of Roman Law to a landing halfway down, where he could look more closely at the prisoner before pronouncing judgment. Seeing the broken, bleeding body of Jesus and the garland of thorns circling his head, he was obviously reminded of all the Roman gladiators of the past who had triumphed and been crowned victors.
As Pilate looked at Jesus, once again there were wrung from his lips the words, "Ecce Homo"—"Behold the Man!" In this ironic and totally spontaneous way, Jesus at last received the acknowledgment he deserved.
Penrod, Everett. 2002. Pilate: Victor or Victim? Kearney, NE: Morris Publishing.