The camel wrestling organized traditionally in our country was firstly made in Hıdırbeyi village, İncirliova, Aydın. However, A.Munis Armağan, in his book Batı Anadolu Tarihinde İlginç Olaylar (Interesting Events in Western Anatolia History). Under the section titled “End of the Camels” states that camel wrestling organisations were held during reign of Mahmut II in Tire and neighbourhood.
Although starting date of camel wrestling is not known, it is predicted that the wrestling organizations have been made since caravan and nomading period. Based on the information obtained from camel owners and wrestling fans, nomads and caravan owners had a competition and they had camel wrestling.
Camel wrestling has been seen more in Aydın as well as Aegean region(İzmir, Manisa, Muğla, Denizli) also many cities, districts, towns and villages, also in Marmara region (Balıkesir and Çanakkale), Mediterranean Region (Burdur, Isparta and Antalya) and some other provinces.
Although there are traditional rules of camel wrestling, they differ from region to region. However, camel wrestling does not have a unique field and spectators. The organizations for camel wrestling are usually held by associations dealing with activities in education, culture, health, sports and social fields for making profits. In some regions municipalities take part in organizations in order to discipline the wrestling and provide a certain order.
The incomes from wrestling organization are used, after deduction of expenses, for specified purposes. Betting and other kind of organizations are made for camel wrestlings Camel wrestling is made between male camels delivered upon mating of female camel with single hump called “yoz” and male camels with double humps called “buhur”. The camels are for wrestling. They are born for wrestling that is their descendants were also wrestler camels.
Wrestler camels are grown up with special care and prepared for wrestling.
The wrestling is organized during winter months when Tülüs are angry, namely in December, January, February and March.
Wrestling camel has a name. The names are given by their owners as well as by spectators because of the actions the camels make during wrestling. It is also seen that the names are chosen from the names of heroes of TV serials. It will be better if some names are given. Some of the names are Kolombo, Dozer, Şahintepesi, Gezer, Sarızeybek, Yörükali, Almanyalı, Ceylan, Flek, Ali Tülü, Talancı, Karka kartalı, Suat, Zümrüt, Menderes, Fırat, Takmakol, Şoför, Civan, Karamurat, Yarımdünya and so on.
The names of the camels are transcribed on the cloth put on back of the pack-saddle. This cloth is called Peş. “Maşallah” is written under the name.
One day before the wrestling, the camels taking part in the wrestling are designed in a traditional way. In addition, they are showed up in the streets. This is a worth seeing event. You hear drum and zurna playing zeybek and the bells of the camels. The dressed up camels indicate a different beauty. One is delighted of watching them. The city is too crowded like a festival. There is a huge crowd in front of cafe houses. The fans of camel wrestling are all there. Discussions about the wrestling go on. You are attracted by the camel owners in their traditional clothes and also some fans dressing in the same way, in caps, poşu, jacket and traditional trousers and boots. It is also possible to see some watching video clips of former wrestling.
In the evening a friendship party called Halı Gecesi is held in order to provide friendship between camel owners and wrestling lovers. People eat, drink and sing songs of the region, play zeybek and also some auctions are held to sell carpets. This evening party is held one day before wrestling.
The people prepare their meals one night prior to organisation date. Everybody is very excited.
People start to come wrestling field early in the morning. While some try to find a good seat at field, the others arrange the place where they can stay with their families. Grills and meals are prepared. At about 9.00-10.00 the wrestling field is full of wrestling lovers. In addition street hawkers take their places out of the field. Several kinds of foods, drinks, gifts are already placed on the counters. And drum and zurna are played. Some people start to play zeybek.
Then it is announced from the speakers that the wrestling has started, and the names of the camels announced to come into field for wrestling. The movement out of the field now shifts to the field. Camel owners take the camels into the field. After the camels make a tour in the field the wrestling starts. Camel wrestling generally starts at 9.00-10.00.
The person announcing the names of the wrestling camels (called “Cazgır”) praises the camels and contributes entertainment to the wrestling through his unique praising, and poems.
Cazgır is the most important and colorful figure of the camel wrestling as it is in oil wrestling. He tries to narrate the camel wrestling like sports reporters.
In camel wrestling the followings are charged with duties: organization committees, referee committee (Head referee, mid referee and desk referee), urgancı (rope keeper) in sufficient number, mouth tiers (to tie mouth of the camels) and controller of tying mouth.
Camel wrestling is made in four categories, namely Ayak, Orta, Başaltı and Baş. The winners are determined by: 1. Making the rival escape, 2. cry 3. fall.
In the first one, the camel makes its rival escape from the field with its huge body. In the second, the camel ties its rival with several tricks and games, and the rival cannot stand this force and cries. In the third one, the winner makes its rival fall with tricks and attacks and sits on losing rival. There is also beating called “pes” (accepting defeat) in which the owner of the camel accepts the defeating in order to prevent his camel encounter damage, for this defeating the owner throws the rope into the field which means acceptance of defeating. The camels not beating each others are equal without any winners.
Some of the names given to tricks made by camels during wrestling are: Bağ, Çengel, Çatal, Makas, kol Atması, Muşat Çengel, Tam Bağ, Yarım Bağ, Düz Çengel, Tekçi, Kol Kaldırma.
In order to increase the excitement, great care is paid for matching the camels having different tricks. Each camel wrestles with a tülü in its class. The camels wrestling from right are matched with the ones wrestling from the right, and left ones with left ones, the ones hooking with the ones hooking etc. The winner camel bring its four feet together and salutes the spectator with boasting. As a reward it gets its carpet and leaves the field. Defeated camel shows silence and embarrassment.
Each camel wrestles only once a day. The duration of the wrestling is about 10 to 15 minutes. The rules are set out in order to prevent reduction in number of wrestling camels and damage of them.
All of them are carried out within a disciplinary manner and traditionally. When wrestling is ended, the owners and the winner camels return home with proud and happiness while spectators are delighted of having an exciting day.
The camel wrestling usually held in winter months in Aegean region has become winter festivals of Aegean region.