Turkey's Camel Wrestling Championship

Collection with 19 media items created by Michael Biach

Turkey 17 Jan 2015 00:00

January 16-18, 2015

Selcuk, Turkey

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.

Camel Camels Wrestling Championship Beauty Pageant Turkey Turkish Selcuk Raki Celebreation Festival

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Camel festival 002
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

Camel Wrestling is an ancient traditional festival popular in the Aegean region of Western Turkey. Two male camels ‘fight’ against each other in favor of a female camel in heat nearby. They do so by leaning on each other to push the other one down. Camels do not get hurt doing during the fight, although sometimes the fight can get too enthusiastic. In this case, the camel owner may throw a rope into the field to forfeit if he is concerned for the safety of his animal. The camels also try to bite each other's feet. While in heat, camels produce foamy saliva in their mouths.

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Camel festival 003
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

Two bull camels wrestle in an arena near Pamucak beach. While in heat, male camels produce a foamy saliva in their mouths.

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Camel festival 004
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

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.

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Camel festival 005
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

While the Wrestling itself is a loud event and mainly dominated by screaming and Raki-drinking men, the beauty contest and march through the streets of Selcuk is a family highlight of the festival.

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Camel festival 006
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

While in heat, male camels produce foamy saliva.

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Camel festival 008
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

A camel can win a wrestling match in three ways: By making the other camel retreat, making it scream, or by making it fall. The owner of a camel may also throw a rope into the field to signal a forfeit if he is concerned for the safety of his animal (note: the man in the back with the rope is the owner of one of the camels). Nevertheless camels sometimes hurt each other as they try to bite each other's feet.

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Camel festival 009
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

The owner of a camel enters the arena near Pamucak beach in preparation for a wrestling match. Wrestling camels are very expensive. They are often imported from Iran or Saudi-Arabia and cost up to 10,000 US Dollars. So owners are not interested in getting their camels hurt during the wrestling.

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Camel festival 010
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

The wrestling festival is a huge event with up to 20,000 visitors. Entry price is 15 Lira (about 5 Euro). Everyone can bring BBQ, drink and food. Many groups are there hours before the festival starts to ensure they have the best view.

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Camel festival 011
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

Visitors applausing the winning camel. BBQ and Raki is highly consumed throughout the day during the festival.

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Camel festival 012
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

The Camel Wrestling Festival takes place in an ancient arena near Pamucak beach. Up to 20,000 visitors attend the competition to watch more than 80 Camel duels. The wrestling of two camels takes about 5 to 7 minutes. A camel can win a wrestling match in three ways: By making the other camel retreat, making it scream, or by making it 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. The festival starts at 10 am and ends before sunset.

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Camel festival 013
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

The camels fight it for the prize of a female camel.

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Camel festival 014
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

Two bull camels wrestle in an arena near Pamucak beach. While in heat, male camels produce a foamy saliva in their mouths.

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Camel festival 015
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

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.

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Camel festival 016
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

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. During the festival grilled camel sausages sold (as seen in the background).

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Camel festival 017
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

The evening before the Camel Wrestling Championship people gather to celebrate in the center of Selcuk. A Turkish man is playing the Zurna, a traditional music instrument, while others are dancing.

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Camel festival 018
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

Bottles of Raki, an anise flavored Turkish liquor, are prepared. Raki is widely consumed at the camel wrestling festival, but the Turkish authorities, under the leadership of Recip Teyyip Erdogan, are trying to discourage the consumption of alcohol at the festival.

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Camel festival 019
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

The evening before the Camel Wrestling Championship people gather to celebrate in the center of Selcuk. A Turkish man is playing the Zurna, a traditional music instrument, while others are dancing and having dinner.

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Camel festival 020
Turkey
By Michael Biach
27 Jan 2015

Participants of the annual Camel Wrestling Festival dance and sing in the streets of Selcuk the night prior to the event.