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Discover the heartbeat of Turkmenistan beyond its famous carpets and the Karakum Desert!

Turkmenistan has a diverse range of sports that enthrall its people.

Soccer may be the most widely recognized, but there are many more to explore.

Uncover the 11 most popular sports in Turkmenistan in our list.

Most Popular Sports in Turkmenistan:

  1. Soccer
  2. Athletics
  3. Wrestling
  4. Weightlifting
  5. Martial Arts
  6. Boxing
  7. Basketball
  8. Gymnastics
  9. Table Tennis
  10. Volleyball
  11. Chess

#1 Soccer

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkmenistan: Early 1900s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Turkmenistan: Berdy Shamuradov (Turkmen)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Turkmenistan: 250,000

Soccer is highly popular in Turkmenistan, capturing the hearts of many with its blend of athleticism and teamwork. The Turkmenistan Higher League serves as the country’s top-tier soccer competition, drawing fans from all over the nation.

Local hero Berdy Shamuradov, a well-known striker, has put Turkmen soccer on the map with his goal-scoring prowess. Turkmenistan’s national team, The Green Men, establishes the country’s presence in regional competitions such as the Asian Football Confederation’s tournaments.

Soccer’s cultural impact is evident in Turkmenistan, holding steadfast as a beloved pastime.

#2 Athletics

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkmenistan: 1920s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Athlete from Turkmenistan: Annagul Amanmuradova (Turkmen)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Athletics Enthusiasts in Turkmenistan: 150,000

Athletics has long been an integral part of Turkmenistan’s sporting culture, with the country producing several accomplished athletes in various disciplines. Annagul Amanmuradova, a decorated female shot putter, stands out as one of the nation’s most lauded athletes.

National and regional competitions serve as an opportunity for Turkmen athletes to showcase their talent and dedication while fostering local interest.

With its roots in ancient times, athletics remains a key component of Turkmenistan’s sporting identity, inspiring new generations to pursue greatness.

#3 Wrestling

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkmenistan: 13th Century
  • 🌟 Most Famous Wrestler from Turkmenistan: Yazmyrat SowueliΓ½ew (Turkmen)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Wrestlers in Turkmenistan: 50,000

Wrestling, especially traditional Belt Wrestling, has been an essential part of Turkmen culture for centuries. Dating back to ancient times, it holds a significant place in the nation’s historical and cultural heritage.

Yazmyrat SowueliΓ½ew, a national wrestling champion, is a well-known figure in Turkmenistan, exemplifying raw power and skill. Traditional wrestling matches during national holidays or local celebrations play a central role in preserving this age-old sport.

Turkmen wrestlers also excel in the international arena, bringing honor to their country and maintaining the prominence of wrestling in Turkmen society.

#4 Weightlifting

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkmenistan: 1950s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Weightlifter from Turkmenistan: Oleg Chen (Turkmen)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Weightlifters in Turkmenistan: 20,000

Weightlifting has rapidly gained popularity in Turkmenistan, emerging as a sport that demands both sheer strength and technique. Turkmen weightlifters have found success in national and international competitions, contributing to the country’s growing reputation in the sport.

Oleg Chen, born and raised in Turkmenistan, has won multiple European Championships, further solidifying the nation’s presence in the weightlifting scene.

Alongside the cultural appreciation for physical power, weightlifting continues to attract new followers, making it an essential part of Turkmenistan’s sporting landscape.

#5 Martial Arts

Mixed Martial Arts
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkmenistan: Ancient Times
  • 🌟 Most Famous Martial Artist from Turkmenistan: Dayanch Gulgadow (Turkmen)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Martial Artists in Turkmenistan: 30,000

Martial arts have been an integral part of Turkmenistan’s culture and sports for centuries. With deep historical ties to warrior traditions, various disciplines have developed throughout the years, including Taekwondo and Karate.

Dayanch Gulgadow, an accomplished Taekwondo athlete, has brought international recognition to Turkmen martial arts while inspiring the younger generation.

Local martial art clubs and dojos host competitions, cultivating the passion and technique needed for future champions. With a keen cultural appreciation for self-discipline, strategy, and athleticism, martial arts continue to thrive in Turkmenistan.

#6 Basketball

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkmenistan: 1950s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Turkmenistan: Viktor Filippov (Turkmen)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Turkmenistan: 40,000

Basketball has witnessed a growing following in Turkmenistan, paving the way for local leagues and an increasing fan base. The Turkmenistan Basketball League showcases the best local talent and is the country’s top basketball competition.

Viktor Filippov, a Turkmen basketball player known for his shooting skills, stands as a role model for many young athletes. While local games garner attention, Turkmen fans also enjoy watching foreign leagues, especially the NBA.

As basketball’s popularity continues to rise in Turkmenistan, it further solidifies its place in the nation’s vast sports landscape.

#7 Gymnastics

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkmenistan: 1950s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Gymnast from Turkmenistan: Merjen Salayew (Turkmen)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Gymnasts in Turkmenistan: 20,000

Gymnastics is well-regarded in Turkmenistan for its combination of strength, elegance, and precision. The sport has witnessed significant growth over the years, with more young athletes pursuing gymnastics as a serious discipline.

Merjen Salayew, a prominent Turkmen gymnast, has distinguished himself in international competitions, inspiring future generations. Various regional and national gymnastic championships showcase the talent and skills of Turkmen athletes.

As gymnastics remains firmly rooted in the nation’s sporting culture, it paves the way for continual growth, prestige, and international recognition.

#8 Table Tennis

Table Tennis
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkmenistan: 1940s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Turkmenistan: Palvan Sariyev (Turkmen)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Turkmenistan: 15,000

Table tennis, often referred to as ping pong, is a widely enjoyed sport in Turkmenistan, offering a perfect blend of skill, speed, and strategy. Local clubs and competitions foster the sport’s popularity and attract enthusiasts of all ages.

Palvan Sariyev, a renowned Turkmen table tennis player, has represented the nation in global events and serves as an inspiration to many. The sport’s versatility, allowing both casual and competitive play, has cemented its place in Turkmenistan’s sporting culture.

With growing interest and talented players, table tennis continues to flourish in the nation.

#9 Volleyball

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkmenistan: 1960s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from Turkmenistan: Guvanch Achilov (Turkmen)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Turkmenistan: 75,000

Volleyball has steadily gained popularity in Turkmenistan, offering a fast-paced and dynamic team sport for players and fans. Competitions and leagues across the country showcase the growing talent and passion for the sport.

Guvanch Achilov, a skilled Turkmen volleyball player, has represented his nation in international tournaments and inspired the next generation of athletes. As local matches draw large crowds, Turkmen fans also enjoy watching international volleyball competitions like the FIVB tournaments.

With its vibrant energy and strong teamwork dynamics, volleyball continues to spike its way into Turkmenistan’s sports scene.

#10 Boxing

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkmenistan: Early 1900s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Boxer from Turkmenistan: Serdar Hudayberdiyev (Turkmen)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Boxing Enthusiasts in Turkmenistan: 50,000

Boxing is a popular sport in Turkmenistan, emphasizing strength, discipline, and strategy. The country has produced several noteworthy boxers who have participated and succeeded in national and international competitions.

Serdar Hudayberdiyev, an accomplished Turkmen boxer, has achieved recognition for his skills and victories in the ring. Boxing matches in Turkmenistan draw crowds and inspire young athletes to pursue the sport.

With deep-rooted admiration for physical prowess, boxing will continue to captivate fans and challenge athletes in the years to come.

#11 Chess

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkmenistan: Early 20th Century
  • 🌟 Most Famous Chess Player from Turkmenistan: MΓ€hri GeldiΓ½ewa (Turkmen)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Chess Enthusiasts in Turkmenistan: 10,000

Chess holds a special place in Turkmenistan as a popular and respected intellectual pursuit. The game has a strong presence in the nation, with numerous clubs and tournaments where competitive and casual players can test their skills.

MΓ€hri GeldiΓ½ewa, a renowned Turkmen chess player, has represented her country at international competitions, raising the profile of Turkmen chess. The Turkmen Chess Federation supports and promotes the game, encouraging young players to develop their skills.

With its emphasis on strategy and critical thinking, chess continues to enrich Turkmenistan’s diverse sports culture.


What is the most popular sport in Turkmenistan?

Soccer is the most popular sport in Turkmenistan, with a strong connection to the country’s culture and attracting a large following, including numerous players and devoted fans.

What is the national sport of Turkmenistan?

The national sport of Turkmenistan is Wrestling, specifically traditional Belt Wrestling, which has deep historical ties to ancient warrior traditions, reflecting the country’s cultural legacy.

What are the most watched sports in Turkmenistan?

The most watched sports in Turkmenistan include soccer, athletics, wrestling, weightlifting, martial arts, basketball, gymnastics, table tennis, volleyball, boxing, and chess, each gaining notable attention and appreciation among the population.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning β€˜real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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