Astana, Aug 27 (IANS) About 80 wrestlers from 11 countries gathered here for the first Asian championship of "kuresi," or traditional Kazakh wrestling.
"Today in Asia's first kuresi competition, countries such as Sri Lanka, Japan and Iran are participating for the first time," Energy Minister and head of the international traditional Kazakh wrestling federation, Kanat Bozumbayev, told Efe news on Sunday.
The aim of the event is to popularise the sport, which has been included since 2016 on Unesco's Intangible Cultural Heritage List, not only in Kazakhstan itself but also in other countries.
"Our aim is to include kuresi on the list for the Los Angeles Olympic Games," said Bozumbayev, regarding the Olympics to be held in the southern California city in 2028.
He said that kuresi, where the wrestlers confront each other on foot with the aim of simply downing their opponents and pinning them on their backs, is a sport that "is based on the fans, on the patriots, on those who are concerned about our history".
That's why, in the words of well-known Kazakh wrestler Ulan Ryskulov, Kazakh wrestling is different from other similar disciplines since "the kuresi athletes don't deliver hard blows" against their adversaries and "the combat doesn't continue after one of the rivals falls".
Ersin Seytkazinov, who won the gold medal in the 82 kg class, applauded the celebration of the event.
"The Asian kuresi championship was very successful and very strong. Our main competitors have been athletes from Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan," Seytkazinov said.