What you see at wrestling matches nowadays, is believed to have existed in a similar form for over 7,000 years. Genghis Khan recommended his warriors to practice the sport to keep them fit and always ready for a combat. Sometimes, notorious Mongolian leaders are known to have made use of wrestling matches to get rid of political enemies, who "accidentally" died during the competition.
Today the traditional Mongolian sport still enjoys a strong popularity and is considered one of three manly skills. Unlike wrestling in other corners of the world, here in Mongolia, it is not done in a rink, but rather in the open air, often on the grassland or even in the dirt or mud.
The match begins with a symbolic dance which traditionally represents an eagle or falcon flying off. The participants also wear traditional wrestling clothing. Whoever can make his opponent touch the ground with his back, knee, or elbow, wins the game.
Mongolian wrestling competitions are the main highlight of the Naadam Festival annually held between July 11th and 13th. Around 512 wrestlers, at big anniversaries even 1024, participate in this festival which is also a qualifying round for the two next levels—Aimag Naadam and Sum Naadam, which happen in close time proximity to each other in the early July.