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The National Sport of Uzbekistan is Kurash.

Kurash is an exhilarating traditional wrestling form that symbolizes the strength, resilience, and agility of Uzbekistan’s people.

To learn more about sports culture in Uzbekistan, read our article about the most popular sports in Uzbekistan.


#1 History of Kurash

  • Initially: The origins of Kurash can be traced back to ancient times, with historical evidence suggesting that this wrestling form was practiced in Uzbekistan’s region over 2,000 years ago.
  • Islamic Golden Age (8th-14th Centuries): Kurash gained prominence during the Islamic Golden Age, embraced by neighboring empires, and soon became an integral part of Uzbek culture and tradition.
  • 19th Century: The Central Asian wrestling style witnessed resurgence, with local communities organizing events and tournaments to preserve and promote their national sport.
  • 20th Century: The establishment of the Soviet Union led to the promotion of more modern sports, impacting the prevalence of Kurash. However, efforts continued to preserve and popularize the ancient sport.
  • 1991: Following Uzbekistan’s independence, the government recognized and established Kurash as the national sport, prioritizing its development and international exposure.
  • 1998: The International Kurash Association (IKA) was founded, leading to the standardization of rules and promoting the sport on a global platform.

#2 Culture and Traditions

Kurash plays a vital role in Uzbekistan’s cultural identity, symbolizing the nation’s spirit of courage, honor, and perseverance. The sport has been passed down through generations, weaving an ancient bond that transcends time.

Festivals and events associated with Kurash often revolve around national holidays, significant celebrations, or local customs. These gatherings foster a sense of community and social bonding, while also upholding the sport’s esteemed historical and cultural significance.

Traditional Uzbek attire is an essential component of Kurash, with participants wearing long, loose garments reflecting their regional heritage. Music and dance often accompany these events, adding vibrancy and further showcasing the nation’s rich traditions.

#3 How it Works: Rules, Gameplay and Equipment

πŸ“• Rules & Gameplay

  • Objective: Wrestlers attempt to throw their opponent onto their back with clear control and force, using only non-arm-locked “grip” techniques.
  • Match Duration: A match consists of one 3-minute round, with no rest period and extensions in the case of a tie.
  • Scoring: Throws are awarded points based on their execution, with the highest scoring throw (Halal) securing the victory, while lesser scores include Yambosh and Chala.
  • Violation: Wrestlers must avoid prohibited techniques, such as using force to maintain grip or striking the opponent, which may result in warnings, penalties, or disqualification.

βš™οΈ Equipment & Gear

  • Uniform: Wrestlers wear traditional Uzbek attire, including a loose tunic (Khalat) and a belt (Kamarband) to secure their clothing during competition.
  • Mat: A circular or square mat, measuring at least 8 meters in diameter, provides the competition surface required for movement and safety.
  • Referee: A central referee oversees the match, enforcing rules and determining points, supported by a panel of judges for official scoring.

#4 Modern Development of Kurash

As Uzbekistan’s national sport, Kurash has witnessed substantial modern development, with the establishment of regional and national institutions, and the promotion of the sport via training programs, events, and international competitions.

Technological advancements, such as video-analysis and improved training methodologies, have contributed to enhancing the skill level and athletic performance of modern Kurash wrestlers. The International Kurash Association’s efforts to standardize rules and promote the sport on a global stage have further solidified the sport’s influence and future growth.

In recent decades, Kurash has continued to expand its presence on the global stage, with numerous countries joining the IKA and participating in international competitions. This development signifies an emerging appreciation for traditional wrestling styles and a promising trajectory for Kurash’s international stature.

#5 Kurash and the Olympics

Although Kurash has not yet featured as an official Olympic discipline, the sport has gained significant momentum on the global stage over recent years, with a successful inclusion in the 2018 Asian Games. Future prospects for Kurash’s inclusion in the Summer Olympics remain hopeful, as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) continues to expand and diversify events in the Games.

A potential Olympic debut would undoubtedly have a profound impact on Kurash’s global recognition, attracting more athletes, support, and investment from around the world. The Olympic platform would facilitate greater exposure and appreciation for this traditional Uzbek wrestling style and contribute to its international development.

#6 Famous Athletes and Achievements

  1. Elmurat Tasmuradov: Uzbekistan’s three-time World Kurash Champion and Asian Games gold-medalist, Tasmuradov is a trailblazer for the country, showcasing Kurash’s depth and skill on the international stage.
  2. Rustam Eshmontov: Eshmontov is a celebrated Uzbek Kurash wrestler, having claimed multiple gold medals in World Championships, Asian Championships, and a memorable victory in the 2018 Asian Games.
  3. Gulnor Sulaymanova: A dominant force in women’s Kurash, Sulaymanova has earned multiple World Championship titles and Asian Championship medals, representing Uzbekistan’s prowess in the sport and inspiring future generations of athletes.
  4. Diyorbek Urozboev: As an Asian Champion and World Championship medalist, Urozboev represents Uzbekistan’s new generation of Kurash stars, demonstrating the nation’s continued commitment to nurturing talent in the sport.

#7 Where to watch Kurash

  • Uzbekistan Sport: This national sports channel provides television coverage and streaming options for various live Kurash events, including national championships and international competitions featuring Uzbek athletes.
  • International Kurash Association (IKA): The IKA’s official website, social media channels, and YouTube provide updates, news, and occasional live streaming of major Kurash events worldwide.
  • Live in Uzbekistan: Catch the excitement of Kurash firsthand at venues such as the Uzbekistan National Sports Complex in Tashkent or regional championships held in various cities across the country.

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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