Camel Wrestling in Turkey
- 10 months ago
Camel Wrestling is a traditional sport very popular along the west coast of Turkey, where male camels from local villages are pit against each other in a dusty stadium.
The days leading to the grand fight is an exciting one for the Turkish people. The camels are draped with decorative rugs, carved saddles, and bells and walked through the streets, accompanied by music and dance. Camel owners are dressed in checkered caps, customary scarves around their neck, jackets, special pants and boots in an accordion-like shaped. On the night before the tournament, a Hali Gecesi or Rug Nigh is held attended by camel owners and wrestling lovers where they meet new friends and old acquaintances enjoy the food, drinks and generally make merry.
The biggest problem in camel wrestling is to convince the camels to fight with one another. Camels aren't built for battle; they can be nastily temperamental and prone to using their teeth, but they can hardly be called aggressive. As a result, camel wrestling is more akin to comedy than to blood-sport. For this reason, wrestling is held during the breeding season, when the male camels are eager to win the admiration of the females. To encourage the camels to wrestle, an alluring female is often paraded in front of the contestants and led away.
The male camels froth at the nose and mouth, and if the crowd is lucky, they might actually start to fight. The object for a wrestling camel, usually, is to dominate his rival by sitting on him. Sometimes a camel will flee from the arena and then the other is declared a winner. Matches last no longer than 10 minutes each, and usually judges award points to the animals for style, instead of waiting for serious injuries.
Camel fighting originated among ancient Turkic tribes over 2,400 years ago, probably started as a form of competition between nomad caravans in the Middle East. At one point of time the government of Turkey began discouraging the practice characterizing it as too backwards of a practice.
Although still popular in the Aegean region of Turkey, the practice of camel wrestling is a declining one as the cost of keeping, feeding and training a camel solely for competition doesn't come cheaply.