Belt Wrestling is a form of wrestling that is one of the oldest historically recorded sports. It involves contestants aiming to knock each other over by grappling with a belt.
Gilgamesh engages in a form of belt wrestling with Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh written around 2000 BC about a king of Sumer who lived around 2800 to 2600 BC. One of the oldest recorded illustrations of wrestling is a bronze statuette, dated to around 2600 BC, found in 1938 at Khafaji, near Baghdad and now stored in the National Museum of Iraq. In the 11th Century the scholar and philosopher Avicenna, spoke of this type of wrestling. Every country has its own kind of struggle. Originally, wrestling was intended as a means of survival for ancient civilizations. Put literally, the struggle for existence was carried on in much the same manner as natural selection.
Rules and Variation of the Rules
Different parts of the world have different variations on certain rules in the sport. As the name suggests, the central component to the sport is a simple device, such as a belt, ordinary towel, or girdle. For example, within Central Asia, Kuresh wrestling is popular. It is distinguished by throwing an opponent by tearing him away from the floor or from the mat without using one’s legs. Such rules are usually specific to that particular region. As a result, the rules of the game can differ between continents or even countries.
Honorary President of the International Association of Traditional Types of Sports Reef Gainanov once stated, “This type of wrestling will always be interesting. Every nation has its own colouring. One nation should not impose its own rules upon other countries and should respect other cultures and their customs”.
However, today it is necessary to understand the differences between:
- the rules of national wrestling in every single country or region, of which there are surely thousands of variations;
- and a common, well-defined system of belt wrestling rules, which makes it possible for athletes from around the world to come together in a competition as equals.