In this episode of Road to Ashgabat 2017, we discover a Turkmen form of belt wrestling called goresh.
It’s a popular sport across the country, as well as a traditional source of entertainment at weddings and birthdays. The prize for the winner is typically a horse or a camel.
The rules are simple: wrestlers earn points by forcing an opponent to touch the mat with any part of the body except the feet.
“In ancient times, it was unacceptable for Turkmen to kneel at the feet of a rival. That’s where the rules of goresh come from,” says wrestler Pirguly Gurbandurdyev.
It may look rough, but it’s not a sport strictly for men.
Nasiba Surkiyeva devoted 20 years of her life to judo before she turned to goresh.
Today she’s a respected wrestler and she coaches a women’s team.
“There’s historical evidence that in ancient times, there were female goresh wrestlers. And from 2013, women started to compete in international tournaments,” she says.
The next of these tournaments will be held at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in the capital Ashgabat in September.