Turkey 17 Jan 2015 00:00
January 16-18, 2015
In January each year there is the annual Camel Wrestling Championship held in Selcuk in Turkey. The event puts together two bull (male) camels with a female camel on heat nearby. The camels fight it out for the female, leaning on each other to push the other one down. It is most common in the Aegean region of Turkey, but is also found in the Marmara and Mediterranean regions of that country. There are an estimated 1200 camel wrestlers (or Tulu) in Turkey, bred specially for the competitions.
A camel can win a wrestling match in three ways: By making the other camel retreat, scream, or fall. The owner of a camel may also throw a rope into the field to declare a forfeit if he is concerned for the safety of his animal.
Camels wrestle with others in their same weight class. Camels have different tricks, and contest organizers match camels with different skills. Some camels wrestle from the right and some from the left; some trip the other with foot tricks ("çengelci"), and some trap their opponent's head under their chest and then try to sit ("bağcı"); some push their rivals to make them retreat ("tekçi").
A camel wrestling event involves considerable pomp and ceremony. The camels are decorated, and participate in a march through town followed by musicians on the day before the event. The actual wrestling can be somewhat underwhelming to someone not familiar with the intricacies, although onlookers must often flee from an oncoming camel that is retreating in defeat from his opponent.
In the heat of the tournament, camels spew foamy saliva in their excitement. Additionally, camels are retromingent animals, and so spectators would be advised to beware not only of flying saliva but of flying urine as well.
Popularity of the sport is declining, as the relative costs of caring for such an animal rises, as well as concern for the animals' welfare.