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. Camel wrestling is a sport in which two male Tülu camels wrestle in response to a female camel in heat being led before them. 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.
Championship / How to Get There
Held by the Pamucak Beach near Ephesus / Selçuk. It is about 7 km away from Selcuk and you can catch a minibus or taxi to Wrestling Area.
Camel wrestling championships have drawn thousands of spectators annually. The festival usually highlights wrestling of 120 camels, but in 2001 only 96 were involved.
A beauty competition for Camels will be presented in Selcuk town centerone day before the Wrestling on Saturday afternoon Camel wrestling is on 3rd Sunday of January and it goes from 10.00 a.m to 17.00 p.m
Camel fighting originated among ancient Turkic tribes over 2,400 years ago. Camels also wrestle in the wild, so the practice occurred before it was first organized by nomads. During the 1850s an American military officer was inspired by the popularity of Camel Wrestling in Turkey and set out to establish a Camel Wrestling tournament in Texas. He was unsuccessful, however, due in part to the start of the American Civil War in 1861.
In the 1920s the Turkish National Aviation league has held Camel fights as fundraisers in order to purchase planes for the Government of Turkey. The government of Turkey began discouraging the practice in the 1920s, however, characterizing it as too backwards of a practice. In the 1980s the new government of Turkey began encouraging the competitions as part of Turkey’s historic culture.
Camel wrestling was also a popular event at the Lahore Horse and Cattle show, but it was excluded from the program during the visit of Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1961 as it was deemed “too fierce” for the Queen