Mongolian National Wrestling: A Sport That Embraces Tradition and Strength

Mongolian national wrestling, also known as “bökh,” is a traditional sport that has been practiced in Mongolia for centuries. It is considered the national sport of Mongolia and is deeply ingrained in the country’s culture and identity. Bökh is not just a physical activity, but a celebration of strength, skill, and cultural heritage.

History and Origin

The origins of bökh are unclear, but it is believed that the sport dates back to the time of the Mongol Empire, which existed in the 13th and 14th centuries. Bökh was originally used as a form of military training, but over time, it evolved into a popular form of entertainment and a way to resolve disputes.

Rules and Gameplay

Bökh is a form of folk wrestling, which means that it has no strict rules or regulations. The goal of the game is to force your opponent to touch the ground with any part of their body other than their feet or hands. There are no weight classes, and matches can last for several minutes or even hours.

In traditional bökh matches, the wrestlers wear a “zodog,” which is a tight-fitting jacket that extends to the thighs, and “shuudag,” which are shorts made of leather or canvas. The wrestlers also wear a special type of boots, called “gutal,” which have pointed toes that allow the wrestler to grip the ground.

Bökh matches typically begin with a ceremonial dance, called “eagle dance,” which is performed by the wrestlers to showcase their strength and agility. The wrestlers then approach each other and lock arms, trying to gain the upper hand by using various techniques such as trips, throws, and holds.

Traditions and Culture

Bökh is more than just a sport – it is a celebration of Mongolian culture and traditions. The sport is deeply rooted in the country’s nomadic history and reflects the values of strength, resilience, and community. Bökh tournaments are often accompanied by traditional music and dance performances, and spectators gather to cheer on their favorite wrestlers.

Bökh is also an important part of Mongolia’s national identity. The country’s most famous wrestler, Genghis Khan, is revered as a national hero and is credited with popularizing the sport during the Mongol Empire. Today, bökh is celebrated as a symbol of Mongolian pride and heritage.


Mongolian national wrestling, or bökh, is a unique and fascinating sport that celebrates the country’s rich cultural history. It is a physical activity that requires strength, skill, and endurance, but also embraces tradition and community. Bökh is more than just a sport – it is a symbol of Mongolian identity and a source of national pride.

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