Especially organized in the Aydin Province today, the camel wrestling is common in many provinces, counties and villages of the Aegean Region (Izmir, Manisa, Mugla, and Denizli), in Marmora Region ( Balikesir and Canakkale), in Mediterranean Region (Burdur, Isparta, Antalya), and in some other provinces. The camel wrestling festival arranged in Seljuk on the 3. Sunday of January of each year brings about teemingly many tourists to Seljuk and its neighborhood in the winter like the summer. The games and the wrestling are performed in the Ephesus Hippodrome.
Although the camel wrestling has special traditional rules, it differentiates sometimes among the regions. However, unlike the reminiscent sports, the camel wrestling doesn’t have a special area and the regular audience. The organizations for the camel wrestling are especially committed by the associations, having involved in educational, cultural, health, sportive, and social activities, in order to increase revenue. In some regions, the municipalities joined to the organizations to discipline the wrestling and to put it in an order.
The revenue gained from the wrestling organizations is used for the predetermined purposes after the expenses are subtracted. The book making and betting aren’t absolutely business at issue.
The camel wrestling is made between male “Tulu” camels, which are born from the mating of the female camel called “yoz”, having single hump, and male camel called “buhur”, having a double hump. These camels are only for the wrestling. Wrestling is a racial issue, that is to say, the wrestling camels’ ancestors are also wrestlers. Camels can join the wrestling only when they reach the age 7. Called as “Daylak” until being 7, the camel is accepted as a male at the age of maturity when he becomes 7. Due to being accepted as sacred, these camels, able of wrestling for 35 years, can’t be used as mounts and pack animals.
The wrestling camels are bred with special attention and prepared for the wrestling.
The wrestling is organized when the tulus begin to be on heat during the winter, namely December, January, February and March.
All wrestling camels have surely a name. These names can be given by their owners, or they can also be given by the audience with respect to their movements and games during the wrestling.
The name of the wrestling camel is written on an adorned cloth, which is put behind the saddle, called Havut. Underneath the name, Masallah is always written.
On the previous day just before the wrestling, the camels are adorned traditionally for the wrestling. The camels are made muster parade accompanied by drum and horn in the city. Besides, the camels are wandered on the avenues and streets. This event is worthwhile to look on. When you arrive at the city, you listen to the drum and horn playing the zeybek music, while you hear the sound of the bells and gongs attached to the camels for the parade. The adorned appearances of the camels are another beautiful scene, of which you can’t get enough. The city turns to a fair ground. There are too many people in front of the coffee house. The fanatics of the camel wrestling are there, and they have heated discussions about the camels, who will wrestle. The camel owners, dressed up an angled cap over their heads, a poshu around their necks, a jacket, baggy trousers, and accordion high boots; or the wrestling lovers, who wanted to imitate the owners for this day, draw attention immediately. In addition to these, there are other people, watching the videos of the previous games, about.
In the evening, a “Carpet Night”, at which the camel owners and the guests joined, is organized, and the friendships are strengthened. This meeting is like an acquaintance night. This special night involves eating, drinking, singing folksongs from the neighborhood, playing zeybek, entertaining the guests, and selling the carpets public auction. This night is absolutely arranged before the day of the camel wrestling.
The other people in the city prepared their foods a night before the wrestling and all people get excited.
The voice of the Cazgir, who announces the names of the camels, is heard on the microphone. Cazgir tells panegyrics for the camels, and colored the wrestling with his special style and his poems in rhyme. As well as the oil wrestling, Cazgir is the most colored and important person for the camel wrestling. He tries to tell the wrestling as a sport speaker.
For the camel wrestling, it was charged many people with the organization committee, board of arbiters (a main arbiter, a middle arbiter, and a desk arbiter), urganci (people, supplying ropes (urgan) during the games) in sufficient quantity, mouth binders for binding the mouths of the camels and controllers of the mouth bindings.
The camel wrestling consists of four categories; Foot, Middle, Head under, and Head. The win can be achieved by; 1- making the rival escape, 2- making the rival scream, 3- making the rival collapse.
At the first one, the camel, with the help of its grandeur, makes its rival escape. At the second one, the coerced camel screams, when it can’t endure to the other one’s power. And, at the third one, the camel makes its rival through a strategic game collapse and sits down over its rival. There is one more way of win due to giving in; the camel owner retires his camel for not being harmed. Therefore, the camel owner throws the urgan to the wrestling area, meaning that giving in, and the other camel is announced as the winner. The camels, which are unable to defeat each other, are announced as drawn.
Some of the names of the games which are made by the camels during the wrestling; the Bend, the Hook, the Fork, Throwing the Arm, the Hook of Musat, the Total Bend, the Half Bend, the Straight Hook, the Uniqueist, Raising the Arm.
In order to increase the excitement of the wrestling, it is paid attention to match the camels, which make different games to its rival during wrestling. Each camel wrestles with a tulu in the same class. It’s called the camel, wrestling from the right flank, as rightist; the one, wrestling from the left flank, as leftist; the one, which trips up and makes its rival fall, as hooker; the one, which takes the head of its rival under its chest and then sits down in this position, as bender; and the one, which pushes the other coming side by side and inspects the other’s feet with its head to make its rival collapse or escape, as uniqueist.
The winning camel, boasting by gathering its four feet in one point, greets proudly the audience. The camel takes the carpet as prize and leaves the field. The defeated camel seems to be ashamed and silent.
A camel wrestles only one time in a day. The duration of the wrestle is from 10 to 15 minutes. These rules are laid down to guarantee the continuity of the generations of the wrestling camels and protecting the camels from being harmed.
All these are executed in discipline and in traditional style. When the wrestling is over, being the camel owners and the camel handlers (Sarvan), of whom a-camels are winners, glad; being the camel wrestling lovers satisfied with good games, they all go back their home happily.