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.
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.
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.
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.