Camel Wrestling- Bizarre Sports in Turkey!
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Camel Wrestling- Bizarre Sports in Turkey!

Camel Wrestling- Bizarre Sports in Turkey!

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Understanding Camel Behavior

Camels are considered as sharks of the deserts. They can perfectly adapt to their environment: their thick foot pads can resist the roasting sand of the Sahara. Their blood cells can endure impious dryness, and their scat is so painstakingly drained of valuable water that can be utilized to stimulate them during fires.

Camel wrestlers in Turkey are considered as body builders of their species, and they are carefully fed so as to be enormous, and become more grandiose as they marched through Turkish villages during winter. They are often decorated with majestic finery, or armored. Camels appear to take it all in stride and always seem to be smiling, probably because humanity amuses them.

Camel wrestling in Turkey is one of the most popular sports which also known to other neighboring countries. We may question why camel is used in this type of sports. Well, camel is natural wrestlers. Their humiliating technique is close to the method used by human wrestlers.

There are techniques how winning camel succeeds in every fight they come across:

• Catching their neck over their opponent's back.
• Then they haul up their weight off their front feet to move their weight to their opponent.
• Extend over and take hold of the other front leg of their opponent using their fighting teeth.
• Bite the legs of their opponent and drag that leg under and across. It helps them to tumble their opponent.
• Break down the windpipe of the down camel.

Playing sports with an aggressive camel take a lot of courage and knowledge. One must be aware of the camel’s neck-hooking technique to avoid getting thrown to the ground. Camels, not like horses, they can also kick all directions and sideways. Camels are well-formed martial artists and this is the reason why they are used in sports that reflect the richness of Turkish traditions.

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History of Camel Wrestling

Camel Wrestling is mostly common in the Aegean region of Turkey. It is also held in the Marmara and Mediterranean regions of the said country. In Turkey, there are over 1200 camel wrestlers bred specifically for the competitions. Camel wrestling rules may vary from different regions. In this kind of sports, it does not require a special field or spectators because most of the time camel wrestling competition was held for the purpose of fundraising for Education, Health, Culture, Sports or Social welfare organizations.

Male camels born to female camels with a single hump or those with double humps are allowed in this kind of competition. Wrestler camels are also known as Tulu camel. Pari-mutuel arrangements or betting were allowed in this competition. The proceeds from the camel wrestling tournament are used for certain purposes after the costs are deducted. The camel wrestling is mostly held during the winter months because during these months the tülüs are in fervor. Every wrestling camel has its unique name. Camel names were enthused by how it behaves during wrestling matches or it was named after a popular character from TV shows like American detective Colombo and Sahintepesi. The name of the competing camel is written on a piece of cloth known as a peş and hung behind the saddle called havut. And beneath its name, the word Maşallah is also written which means “may God protect him.”

Camel wrestling event includes significant ceremony. Camel wrestlers are decorated in a manner set down by the tradition. They are walked through the streets with music played on drums and zurna on the day before the actual tournament. This event is very spectacular that everyone should see at least once. Camel owners were 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 Night was held attended by camel owners and wrestling lovers. This night is a kind of celebration to meet new friends and old acquaintances that will help them strengthen the bonds of their friendship wherein they enjoy the food, drinks and sing their native songs, dance and sell rugs at an auction.

During the day of the actual tournament, the wrestling field was filled of spectators and street sellers offering a variety of food, drinks and souvenirs with matching band playing drums and zurna. Some people were inspired to dance the traditional dance zeybek. The cazgir announces the names of the camels set to compete that marked the start of the contest proper. He acts as a sports announcer just like in a soccer match. The cazgir also reads distinct qualities of each camel that adds color to the contest. He is also the most important and colorful person in this event. Camels walk a lap around the field before the start of the wrestling match. In this match, there are three ways to determine which camel wins; if the camel makes it rival escape from the field, if the camel draw his rival with different tricks and games that his rival cannot stand and cries or if the camel makes his rival fall with tricks and sits on it.

If the camel owner is more concern to his camel to prevent of being hurt than the victory, he can throw a rope on the ground which means that he accept defeat which is also called as pes (means give up). The wrestling match lasts for only 10-15 minutes and wrestler camel can compete once a day. The victorious camel brings its four feet and greets the audience very proud and received the rug as his reward and leaves the field while the loser camel shows stillness and humiliation. Camel wrestling events are held with both discipline and strong nod to tradition. The events were concluded with joy and proud as to the owners of the winning camel and wrestling fans who are all delighted of having a momentous day.




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