Mongolian Wrestling (Bökh) – ALTOS

When people are asked about wrestling they either think of Olympic style wrestling, the grapple sport wrestling, or the sports entertainment wrestling filled with larger than life personas and scripted finishes. The latter is known as the ‘fake wrestling’ due to its predetermined outcome and scripted aspects of the whole contest. However if you asked a person from Mongolia, a country that shits out more culture and history than you do after a night out that ended with a spicy curry, they would only think of Mongolian Wrestling. 


Mongolian Wrestling, known officially as Bökh, is a traditional sport in Mongolia that is also the countries national sport. It is said that when any boy in the country is born their family wishes them to become a wrestler, which is shown with Bökh serving as one of the three manly sports that are based around the traditional three manly skills in Mongolian culture. The two other skills are horsemanship and archery,with horse racing and well obviously archery being the manlysports for the other two skills. Wrestling is considered to be the most important one of the 3. Genghis Kahn considered wrestling as an important way to keep his army in shape and ready for combat, and you wouldn’t have fucked with that guy, so aye wrestling became known as the most important one!


The sport itself dates back to 7000 BC in Mongolia with cave paintings in the Bayankhongor Providence depicting two naked men grappling whilst being surrounded by a crowd, which is rather kinky. C’mon, who doesn’t love a little bit of man on man action  am I right straight ladies and fellow queers? With the sport being around in prehistoric days in Mongolia and been enriched in Mongol society, the game has developed many customs and traditions that each Bökh wrestler upkeeps to this day. 


In every contest each combatant wears the same outfit, a cute wee shoulder jacket thing that shows off your sexy stomach, some snazzy briefs and leather boots. Overall it’s a bit of a camp look that wouldn’t look out of place at a Mardi Gras parade, but you wouldn’t be telling them that as you would be kicked fuck out of by the tough as fuck dude in the cute campy outfit. The jacket and briefs are either a red or blue colour but don’t represent any specific side of the ring, like in boxing. One style of Mongolian Wrestling called Khorchin (South Mongolian Wrestling) is a form of jacket wrestling where combatants wear a jacket made from cow leather, and long trousers with chaps over and boots. 


One of the rituals each wrestler must do prior to each fight is a sort of ritualistic dance that imitates some animals. Every area in Mongolia has different styles of this dance and different animals imitated. In Inner Mongolia the dance is typically mimicking lions or tigers prancing, and in the Khülünbüir region the dance imitates deer bounding. The most common dance though, is one that imitates a phoenix or falcon taking off. The most unique part of this ritual is that once a match is over the two participants do the respected dance again as they depart, an incredible sight to behold especially after two guys have been grappling viscously. 


Mongolia is home to many styles of Bökh which all have their own tweaks on the rules however all share some common rules. The way a person wins a match is by getting their opponent to touch the ground with their body. What depicts a person touching the ground can differ amongst styles but it’s typically their upper body, a knee or an elbow that signifies them being down and to have lost. A common and also sort of strange rule that is shared amongst all types is that there’s no weight class system or time limit  it is expected that a match should not go on for an extensive time though. The most baffling rule is that there is no age limit so in some competitions, wee 8 year old Jimmy who still eats dirt and thinks that girls have a penis’ as well, is matched up against big 32 year old Nunchan who is a big hefty fucking grown man. Not even a joke or a lie. In the main competition, the National Naadam, this isn’t hugely uncommon, so aye if you’re a wee 8 year old and you’re entering the Naadam eat all your broccoli, or Nunchan will eat you like you’re a shitey wee steak. 


All jokes aside, Mongolian Wrestling is a rather interesting sport to look into with all its customs, traditions and history. Or if you are just a bit of a perv, love cute wee skimpy outfits on your men and a little bit of man on man action then girl this will be your shit. 


Swankie – 23, Scotland. Loveable Loser 


Disclaimer I don’t aim to upset anyone with my take on this traditional sport. It is a fascinating sport and Mongolia is a country that I’ve been intrigued by since watching The Long Way Round tv show where Evan McGregor and Charlie Boorman went through Mongolia. Also Charlie Boorman got his arse kicked in Bökh which was entertaining as fuck

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