Kurash is one of the most ancient folk styles of wrestling known to humankind. According to research, the game emerged on the territory of modern Uzbekistan at least 3500 years ago.
In Uzbek, “Kurash" means "achieving a goal in an honest way." Back in the day this fighting technique was used during wars to protect the population. Men displayed their mastery of Kurash during weddings, holidays, local and national celebrations. It is mentioned in numerous ancient literary and historical sources.
In Central Asia the technique, tradition, rules, and philosophy of Kurash wrestling were orally passed down from generation to generation, from fathers to children. The first attempt to put together and summarize this knowledge was made in 1990.
Prior to this Kurash was not considered to be an independent sport, subject to certain rules and requirements. Many local athletes, trained in Kurash wrestling style as children, later fell in love with sports and began to try themselves in various disciplines eventually becoming champions and world prize winners.
Komil Yusupov, the founder of modern Kurash took this path, too. The Uzbek athlete was an international master of sport in sambo and judo and a member of the former USSR Olympic judo team.
In 1980 after his mother’s passing and some health problems emerged, Yusupov had to withdraw from the Moscow Olympics where he was a clear favourite.
The inability to pursue a professional sports career only motivated Komil Yusupov to focus his attention on transforming national Kurash wrestling into an international sports discipline aspiring to become part of the Olympic Games program.
Yusupov started to work on a set of rules for Kurash wrestling. For this purpose, he analysed the rules of various sport disciplines that were part of the Olympic games program. Yusupov’s rules unified the thousand-year-old tradition of Kurash with today’s sports requirements.
He introduced the concept of weight category, Kurash moves, proposed terminology based on 14 Uzbek words, and established duration of the fight. He designed the uniform for athletes and judges and other attributes without which modern sports would be difficult to imagine.
In 1992, with the personal support of the president of Uzbekistan, the first international Kurash competition for the prize of the President of Uzbekistan took place. It was dedicated to the memory of the great medieval commander Amir Temur. Up to date, over 300 international competitions have already taken place in various parts of the world as well as uninterrupted continental Kurash championships in Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania and Pan-America.
Thanks to Komil Yusupov’s initiative, an International Congress took place on the 6th of September in 1998 in the capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent, featuring teams from 28 countries. The Congress made a unanimous decision and supported Yusupov’s personal initiative to create a new international organisation that was named International Kurash Organisation. In addition, the Congress approved of the set of international rules for Kurash. As a result, this day is remembered by all Kurash fans as the transformation day for the folk game into a new kind of international sport.
Since 1998 Kurash Confederations have been officially opened on 5 continents (in Africa, America, Europe, Asia and Oceania), as well as 136 national Kurash federations have been established.
In 2003 Kurash was recognised as an Asian sport and officially included in all continental games that took place on the Asian continent. This allowed Kurash competitions to be included in the program of the Summer Asian Games, the Asian Indoor Games, the Asian Beach Games, and the Asian Martial Arts Games.
Today, there’s work in progress on including Kurash in the competition program of the European Games and the Islamic Solidarity Games. The main goal is to include Kurash in the program of the summer Olympics.