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Traditional Turkish Sports

Wrestling: Wrestling the most renowned traditional Turkish sport is done since the 13th century B.C. The sport which is done by wrestlers called “Pehlivan” has originated in order to prove their strength to the society and has now become an important cornerstone of the Anatolian culture. Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival, the most well-known of the wrestling contests, brings together wrestlers and followers of this ancestral sport.

Weightlifting:  Weightlifting was developed during the Ottoman period by young athletes who aspired to become head wrestlers and therefore needed to strengthen their arms. Today, it is one of the major sports in Turkey.  Weightlifting athletes like Naim Süleymanoğlu and Halil Mutlu have proved Turkey’s success in weight lifting in the international arena and paved the way for other young and successful weightlifters of today.

Javelin Throw: Javelin throw, which owes its origins to the period of the migration of Turks from Central Asia to Anatolia, was a fighting game based on throwing a spear successfully at the opponent while riding on horse.  Javelin throw was considered the most important game at festivities and ceremonies during the Ottoman period and was also popular in Europe and the Arabian countries.

Archery: The bow and arrow used as an important war weapon in Central Asia once upon a time is now used as sports equipment. During the Ottoman period, Okmeydani district in Istanbul was specifically assigned for the development of Turkish archery.

Horse Riding:  The horse and horse riding are among the most important values for Turks.  Horse riding is a very significant sport for Turks as their ancestors had tamed horses and performed their first migration from Central Asia to Anatolia on horse.  Nowadays, Gazi Race is among the most significant and prominent horse races conducted in Turkey.


Hunting: Turkey, which is rich in both nature and diversity of species, is a quite suitable location for hunting. A quite popular sport in Turkey, hunting is allowed only during certain periods of the year and is limited to certain species.

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