Wrestling (known as bokh) in Mongolia is one of Mongolia’s most popular sports.
During the national Naadam* Festival, held in Ulaanbaatar, 512 wrestlers compete in a single elimination tournament of nine rounds but in rural areas there may be a smaller number of rounds.
*Naad means games and Naadam (Erviin Gurvan Naadam) highlights the three manly sports of wrestling, archery and horse racing. Naadam is a favoured public holiday, one of Mongolia’s top sporting events, a celebration of culture and tradition and pride, and a vibrant traditional Mongolian festival.
In all wrestling events there are no age, weight or height restrictions. The object of a match is to get an opponent to touch his back, knee or elbow to the ground by using a range of techniques (mekh– including throws, lifts and trips) based on the assessment of their opponents strengths and/or weaknesses. It is a game of strategy, weight andstrength.
All wrestlers wear a typical outfit as seen in this great photo taken by our guest Egon Filter of the Bayandalai Naadam in the southern Gobi. The shodog are the small, tight fitting shorts – designed to make the wrestler more mobile and to prevent the opponent from taking advantage of long pants to get a better grip. Gutal are the boots and the zodog is the wrestlers top.
The overall winner of the national Naadam event become a national hero. Its a sport that all members of the EL team absolutely love – including me!