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Camel Wrestling Turkey

Aegean Region, Istanbul

Camel wrestling is now mostly restricted to the Aegean Region, it’s usually during the winter in Turkey that you will spot the elaborately saddled camels being paraded through the villages with the owner shouting to all the passers by that his camel will smash another that dares to challenge his.

The camels they use for this kind of sport are all fully grown bulls fed with a special diet to increase their bulk, and when you see 2 very large, well fed bulky camel bulls attempted to wrestle, you have to admit it’s quite a unique sight!

The reality of this strange sport is it’s more of the Turkish peoples idea of comedy or fun.

This is nothing like bullfighting or cock fighting, and the camels don’t really wrestle, two bulls are led out into an arena, when a young cow is then paraded around to get them excited.

The two bulls will half-heartedly butt each other maybe leaning on the other until one of them gives in and runs away.

Occasionally two bulls will get down to it and actually try to wrestle one another, locking a leg inside the leg of the opposition and leaning on him to topple him over in a camel version of wrestling’s fall and pin.

The funny bit, at least in the eyes of the Turkish public, as the bull does a runner, it will often charge off towards the audience, who need to move out of the way and quick!

Watching hundreds of spectators trying to avoid a ton of camel galloping towards them can be quite hysterical and often the highlight of camel wrestling.

Miraculously there are very few accidents, this sport however is declining one as the cost of keeping, feeding and training the camel just to compete is not cheap, and only the wealthy can afford it.

Large bets made by owners and spectators, though how to tell just which camel won can be difficult to determine at times, especially is they both run away, and It happens!

However It's worth going once just to see what it’s all about, today there is a camel wrestling league in the Aegean region and you can watch shows around Mugla and in Selcuk, nearby Ephesus.

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