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Battle of the Beasts: Camel Wrastlin’ in Turkey

Camel wrestling is a Turkish tradition that dates back almost 2,500 years. In a lot of ways it's like a goofier and less deadly version of cockfighting. I visited a fight recently and was able to sneak into the arena to get these shots—and a lot of...

Camel wrestling is a Turkish tradition that dates back almost 2,500 years. The animals are typically imported from nearby countries and brought to Turkey's Aegean region, where most of the wrestling takes place. In a lot of ways it's like a goofier and less-deadly version of cockfighting. Two males are brought into the arena and, depending on who's running the match, one of two things will happen. If it's a traditional match, a female will be paraded around the ring and made to shake her ass while the males watch on, drooling buckets of foamy spit in sexual frustration until the female's owner takes her out of the ring, at which point the males fight each other under the misguided assumption that whoever wins will get laid. If the match adheres to the more contemporary—and some say civilized—way of preparing camels to fight, the owners will pull the camels together, putting them face-to-face until they start fighting. According to Wikipedia, organizers have also "attempted to entangle two camels together or starve the camels to make them more aggressive." The match is over when one of the camels falls down, runs away, or screams.

But the event is more than just a bunch of Turks sitting around watching camels try to bite each other's balls off. Like most sporting events, a sense of camaraderie fills the stadium. Thick smoke from the dozens of barbecue fires (some of which are cooking camel meat) wafts between the spectators and fighters, and a steady stream of raki, Turkey's national liquor, keeps the crowd lively.

I visited a fight recently and was able to sneak into the arena to get these shots—and a lot of camel spit in the face—before being almost trampled and then kicked out by the officials.

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Camels are kept in stables the day before the match.

Decorations and colorful frills are added before a parade in Selçuk that shows off the wrestlers.

Heavily decorated camels strut through the streets of Selçuk. The most beautiful camel wins a golden bell.

Excited or scared camels produce a comical amount of saliva. The camel handlers are either used to it or just pretend not to notice.

Thousands of spectators come to the arena to get drunk and watch two beasts wrestle each other.

The female dromedary used to arouse the wrestlers and motivate them to fight isn't shy. She's a natural cock tease.

Once the fight begins, the lady camel nonchalantly walks away from the commotion she started and probably fucks some asshole with a gigantic hump who doesn't treat her right.

During most of the matches, the opponents push against each other and try to bite their adversary's legs, feet, and, occasionally, balls.

Once a clear winner has emerged, or when the ten-minute time limit expires, handlers pull the wrestlers away from each other to avoid injuries to the animals.

Tülü camels are usually quite docile, but when they are in a horny rage it takes some serious diplomacy skills to get them to stop fighting.

Referees, marshals, and handlers persuade the winning camel to give up the fight and muzzle it to protect the loser.

A popular wrestling technique is to lock onto your opponent's neck and try to force it down with your bodyweight.

Losers and winners are guided out of the arena. As soon as they are away from the female camel they are BFFs again.

Unfortunately, losers and noncompetitive camels are sold to become a different kind of attraction.