were among the furry, hump-backed contestants in this year’s annual sporting
showdown in Turkey: camel wrestling.Thousands of spectators gathered in the Aegean town of
Selcuk to watch the event, a tradition that dates back 2,400 years, according
While smaller festivals are held across the country during the winter
months — traditionally camel mating season — the one in Selcuk, just a few
miles from the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, is the largest and most
The 37th installment of the competition brought together about 120
camels and their proud owners, many of whom adorned their animals with the
red-and-white Turkish flag.The pouty-lipped competitors weigh in at an average of 600
kilograms (1,300 pounds) and are decorated with multicolored pompoms and ornate
With their humps hidden under embroidered saddles, the wrestlers
strut into the arena two at a time and duke it out, generally within short
distance of a female camel in heat.Each battle ends within minutes, often to thunderous
cheering from the crowds.
A victor is declared when one of the camels falls to
the ground or runs out of the field.
Most matches, however, end in a draw
because owners fear their prized animals could be harmed during the rough
sparring.The festival is also more than just wrestling.
before the competition, the bedecked camels are paraded through town in a
During the main event, musicians perform traditional folk songs
and families barbecue in the hills overlooking the arena, feasting on meat and
sausage washed down by raki, Turkey’s traditional anise alcoholic beverage.