History of Kurash

Kurash that is attracting millions of people round the world has its long rooted history. As researchers, historians say and according to archeological investigations Kurash originated at least 2500-3000 years ago. It can be proved by rare finds, pictures drawn on rocks in several regions of Uzbekistan including Zarafshon, Surkhon and Fergana.

There are six finds - corporeal evidences that can prove the history of Kurash on scientific basis. The picture drawn on the wall in Panjikent (lsl photo) goes back to Sugd state time i.e. medieval period. One of such evidences is the cylinder shape ware made of clay found in ancient Baktria (west of Uzbekistan) region. On this ware there are two wrestlers depicted and one of them is sweeping his opponent. There are several more evidences from bronze period that prove the history of Kurash goes back to 3500 years.


The second find is from bronze period, which are two horseshoes (2nd photo). Both horseshoes depict Kurash techniques. According to professor M.P. Graznov's words, they were made in accordance with sak-skiff tribe's spiritual view and are related to initial stages of nomad life.

Other evidences found in Chelak area near Samarkand prove the long history of Kurash. Among all the ware with geometric engraves the handle of the silver cup shows two athletes performing techniques like in Kurash. This find is from middle ages. (4,h photo).

According to ethnographic researches, ancient tales, stories and narratives also contained episodes about Kurash. Paying attention to their meaning we understand that they pertain to matriarchy period which means the history of Kurash is as long as 5000 years.

There were 3 kinds of Kurash custom in Uzbek people's life. The first one was as a physical exercise and connected with wedding ceremonies. The bout between the groom and the bride was arranged by the reigning women of that time. This happened because of the right of choosing and testing the groom given during the matriarchy kingdom. (5th and 6lh photos).

According to M.O. Kosven's "Outline of ancient culture history" book, published in 1980s, during matriarchy period weddings were arranged by the initiative of brides. Traditions changed as time passed and contradictions towards patriarchy also took place at that time. Later girls would agree to get married if the groom wins her in one-to-one battle. Besides, in petrography (pictures on rocks) women are bigger and stronger than men. This could support the believ that strong and great athletes are born by physically strong women. History also proves that in the past there were women who would govern states. Great scholar and historian Abulghoziy Bohodirkhan (in 1643-1663 ruler of Kharezm region) gives interesting information in his "Shajaraiy tarokima" about seven female rulers. There several memorial stones and statues brought up in favor of female rulers.

The third example of epic Kurash is the choice made by the bride out of candidates to be a groom. In this case the bride does not fight but keep the right to put a condition and make a choice. Such kind of episodes can be found in world epos as "Alpomish", "Odissey" and "Ramayana".

According to ethnographic researches Kurash was widely developed in the area of Uzbekistan in IX-X A.D. and it became a tradition to organize competitions during public holidays and feasts. As S.P. Tolstov writes during public holidays, especially Nauroz holiday a big attention was paid to organizing Kurash competitions.

At such holidays first three days Kurash performances were organized by old-aged people of the land with streets full of people. Prisoners were released, guilty people forgiven because of these events. One of important things is that Kurash performances were a good example of physical education for young children.

In uzbek folklore like "Alpomish", "Gurugli", "Avazkhon", "Rustam", "Tulganoy", "Kuntugmish" Kurash athletes were mentioned and strong, courageous, smart ones praised. In ancient Chinese manuscript "Tan-shu" constant Kurash events organized in Fergana valley region were also mentioned. An arab geographer and traveler who lived in X century also says about often held Kurash contests in Marv, Samarkand, Bukhara and Balkh regions.

The great healer Avisenna (980 - 1037) wrote with emphasis in his book "Canons of Avisenna" that Kurash is very important for the spiritual and physical condition of a person. According to his words person doing physical exercises on constant basis would not need medical assistance.

In oriental literature like "Shokhnoma", "Kobusnoma", "Zafarnoma", "Boburnoma" and "Abdullanoma" brilliant features of Kurash athletes, their spiritual world are well described. Alisher Navoi also enjoyed Kurash and supported people who promoted it worldwide. This is the reason of many stories, episodes about athletes to appear in his works. In the special biography dedicated to athletes "Holoti Pakhlavon Mohammad" it tells about the unbeatable athlete of his time Pahlovon Mohammad, his perfect knowledge in the religious and secular sciences, including astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, philosophy, literature, art, law and other sciences as well as emphasizes his poetic ability. Poets of that time would take advice from Pahlavon Mohammad who practiced Kurash constantly, and show their new works to evaluate them. He was also a great healer. Famous healers like Mavlono Kutbiy, Mavlono Alomulk and Mavlono Abdusalom would discuss with him and used Pahlavon Mohammad's methods of curing in their activities.

Amir Temur who created a powerful and great state was not only the statesman, ruler and commander, but also mastered the knowledge of kurash in perfection. This was the reason of the great attention to be paid to the development of physical readiness, love for the motherland among youth. Sharofiddin Ali Yazdiy in his "Zafarnoma" and Alisher Navoi in "Nasoyil ul-muhabbat" presented interesting and useful information about hundreds of athletes like Babohoki (originally from Shibirgon area, north of Afghanistan), Uchkora bohodir and Abbos Usmon jaloy (originally from Karakul area of Bikhara region). Hazrati Pahlavon Babohoki was also acknowledged as a saint, Uchkora bahodir had a big land (presently the famous rasin from Hatirchi prefecture is called «Uchkora rasin» and planted in the area), Abbos Usmon jaloyir was very brave in the battle against Tukhtamish army (1939). He was murdered at his 25 years of age by enemies. As people of that time wrote Pahlavon Bobohoki lived 122 years and Uchkora bohodir 110 years. The long lifes of these people show that to be an athlete and healthy manner of life are connected with long life.

From history we can see that before the start of a battle between two armies the commanders would come out to wrestle against each other and the commander that wins the match would be the winner preventing the blood-shed and country from which he came would be considered as the winner of the war.

Great scholars of XV century Husayn Voiz Koshifiy and Zayniddin Vosifiylar also emphasized in their books the scientific, spiritual, enlightment features of Kurash. For example, Koshifiy writes in his «Futuvvatnomai sultoniy» story-book: «One should know that Kurash is something interesting for people, acceptable by kings and sultans. People who train Kurash always live with idealogy of justice and purity.

If someone asks the meaning of Kurash the answer is the things happening in mankind"s inner world, because people change their behaviour. The truth of this word is that in the inner world of mankind there is always a battle between good and evil, in other words every good attribute tries to eliminate its opposite one. Kurash means this feature in the person"s inner world...»

In historical books of other centuries there is also a lot of information about Kurash athletes. For example, in the north of Bukhara region one of the historical gates is still called «Uglon».I-Iistorian Hafiz Tanish Bukhariy writes in his book «Abdullanoma» that at the war to occupy the Badahshon area the army could not beat the rivals because of the ark gate and the athlete whose name was Uglon came and shaking the gate threw it on the ground and the area was occupied (1586). After he died the new gate built in the historical capital was named after the athlete Uglon and it is still called with this name.

There is also more information about the great saints of our people who also happened to train Kurash. For example, the burial-vault of Sheikh Hudaydod Azizkhon in Gazira village of Samarkand region is now considered a sacred place. Who is Sheikh Hudaydod Azikhon? As B. Valikhodjaev and B. Urinboev wrote in «Hudaydodi Valiy», the great saint Sheikh Hudaydod Azizkhon"s father had been originally from Kharezm region and initially moved to Bukhara region and living there for sometime moves out to Karmana town, and then from there moves to a village in the east. At this very village in old Ortik sheikh"s house a child had been born and they named him Hudoyberdi. In 1480 in Bukhara he happened to meet with the representative of Yassaviy"s follower Sheikh Jamoliddin and became his student. Sheikh Jamoliddin warmly welcomed Hudoyberdi and gave him a penname «Hudaydod». After studying at madrasah of Samarkand, Gijduvon and Bukhara he returned to Karmana town in 1484, he perfectly learned the Yassaviy phylosophy. In the beginning of 1490 he headed to the capital -Bukhara being informed that ruler of Karnab area suppressed people. He participated in matches during the Nauruz feats and when he beat all his opponents the Governor of Bukhara Temuriyzoda Mukhammad Bokiy Mirzo asked him what he would have liked for the prize, he said to fire the ruler of Karnab area from his position. After the ruler was released from his position the people of villages relieved from pressure. In the beginning of 1500s Sheikh Hudaydod Azizkhon moved to Samarkand and passed away there in 1532. The biography of the sheikh and athlete written when he was alive is now available for the present generation and kept in funds of Uzbekistan, some of the uzbek traditional and pleasant poems from that script have been published in republican and regional publications.

There is information that a famous follower of Nakshbandiy phylosophy Sayyid Amir Kulol (lived 1301-1372) also practiced kurash. His grave is located in Sukhor area of Kogon region and is considered as a sacred place.

Uzbekistan is very rich with valuable sourses about athletes, lived in B.C. and A.D. centuries illustrated in ancient manuscripts,are waiting for the researchers to observe them. One of them, «Risolai goshtingiri» («Article of kurash athletes*) is also amondg these books, in this book feith and behaviour of athletes are thoroughly written.

Historical Kurash athletes of Uzbekistan can be divided into three groups:

1) Sipohi (strong) pahlavon - athletes that practiced Kurash and fought in war (ex. Pahlavon Bobohoki);

2) Gushtingir (athlete) pahlavon - athletes that practiced Kurash, involved with science and education, pertain to sufism phylosophy (ex. Pahlavon Makhmud and Pahlavon Mukhammad);

3) Ustod pahlavon - athletes that did not participate in Kurash matches, wars, but prepared kurash students (Usullikota, Chukurdamota).

Kurash that had been formed for centuries and played an important role in perfection of humans, for 130 years of dominance of soviet union was under pressure and got weakened. The totalitarian regime allies tried to cut down the traditions like Kurash that inspired people waking the feelings of pride and glory in dormant souls of people. This was the reason Kurash could not reach the international area during the reign of soviet regime..

Even though loyal to Kurash athletes organized kurash in small circles that gave to people spiritual pleasure. Only after the independence of Uzbekistan a new spirit was given to Kurash and holidays, feasts were joint by Kurash.

Kurash that passed difficult tests with courage, and has been accepted as a symbol of truly brave people, good will and goal, today turned into an activity of people, important issue of the count and government. Several years have passed since it gained the love of world community and became an international sport in the world arena.

Starting from 1991, the year Uzbekistan became independent state, the first President of Uzbekistan His Excellency Islam Karimov, the initiator and inspirer of all historical changes in Uzbekistan, the man who made crucial contribution to Independence of Uzbekistan, formulated the goal to promote Kurash worldwide as a new international sport. President Karimov while meeting Komil Yusupov in 1992 gave his ideas on the ways to make the sport of Kurash an international one and through this sport introduce Uzbekistan, its history, traditions and philosophy to the world.

After that meeting using the support of the Uzbek President, the group of activists of Kurash led by Mr. Yusupov started the international propaganda and promotion of Kurash. They held several big tournaments in different parts of Uzbekistan using the new rules – the success was overwhelming. Sometimes the large stadiums could not accommodate all spectators. The group made presentations at various prestigious sport forums in South Korea, Canada, Japan, India, USA, Monaco and Russia. And the goal was soon reached.

In September 1998 the capital of Uzbekistan – Tashkent held the fist ever international Kurash tournament. Players from almost 30 countries of Asia, Europe and Pan America participated. Usually the Kurash event in Uzbekistan are held at the football stadiums. This tournament, which was for the Prize of the Uzbek President, was not an exception.

During this tournament Tashkent hosted another historical event. On September 6th 1998 representatives of 28 states of Asia, Europe and Pan America established the International Kurash Association – the official international sport organ representing Kurash in the world. Since that day September 6th is the official birthday of the new international sport – Kurash. Delegates of the first inaugural Congress ratified the Statutes of the new organization and the international rules of Kurash, elected the managing body of the IKA- the Directing committee. Islam Karimov, the president of Uzbekistan and one of the key person in the international promotion of Kurash was elected as the Honorary President for life, Komil Yusupov, the author of the Kurash rules, became the President of the IKA.