Kazakh traditional sports are still practiced in Kazakhstan during national celebrations. And even if they have no practical effect nowadays, Kazakh sports are integral parts of national culture. Endless Eurasian steppes and challenging local climate had a tremendous influence on the building of Kazakh national culture. The nomadic lifestyle required Kazakh men and women to be physically tough horse riders and skilful hunters. This fact is reflected in the nature of Kazakh national sports and games the majority of which are equestrian competitions.
The name of the sport comes from Kazakh words and means "a grey wolf." Kokpar is considered to be a kind of polo. This is a very popular masculine sport where two teams (from five to ten persons in each) of horse riders grapple over a decapitated goat, which they try to deposit in the opponent’s goal. The distance between two goalposts is 300-400 metres. It lasts 15 minutes. In case of a draw, horsemen have the second round. If there is no result again, a competition between two players is organised.
2. Kyz kuu
Unlike Kokpar, this national game is regarded as a piece of fun than serious competition. In Kazakh language kyz kuu literally means "catch the girl". Two horse riders (a man and a woman) participate in it. To start the competition, a female rider stands at a certain distance behind a horseman. She starts riding at full speed and, as soon as she reaches him, male rider moves. Both race towards the finishing line. If the man wins he has the right to kiss the girl. Otherwise, she may beat him with a whip.
This is one of the most popular and widespread Kazakh equestrian sport. Baiga is a horse racing over short and long distances (up to 100 kilometres). It is believed that the national sport originated with the need of Kazakh nomads to promote endurance in horses. Traditionally, the participants are Kazakh boys between 7 and 14 years of age. However, sometimes professional jockeys can compete with each other as well.
Audaryspak is a traditional horseback wrestling. The rules of this national sport are quite simple. Two wrestlers compete with each other and the winner is the rider who wrestles his opponent to the ground first. Only adult men, who are physically strong and skilful riders, have the right participate in this competition. In the past, a wrestler could represent his clan or village.
5. Kumis alu
In Kazakh language kumis alu means "pick up the coin." During the competition, a horse rider bends to pick up a coin or handkerchief from the ground. The competitor who gathered more coins in his round is the winner. The traditional games listed above are still practised in Kazakhstan during national celebrations. And even if they have no practical effect nowadays, Kazakh sports are integral parts of our culture.
By Moldir Nurazkhan
Sports draws us for many reasons. It keeps us healthy and fit, teaches responsibility, gives us competition, excitement, creates communities… The list is endless! Kazakhstan is no exception for a sports community, so in this blog I’d like to share with my foreign friends about Kazakhs sports culture.
I think every Kazakh citizen would agree that the most popular sport in our country is soccer (we call it football though). I assume, the other reason, besides it’s fun, is that soccer requires lesser equipment than any other sports.
Anyways, Kazakhstan has 14 inner soccer teams which compete for the UEFA Champions League. It is held every year between the spring-fall season. Nowadays, the winning team is Karaganda’s FC Shakhter Karagandy.
Besides, Kazakhstan has national soccer team, which represents our country on international level. In 2002, Kazakhstan was adopted in the UEFA as an European country participant (West Kazakhstan (Atyrau, Aktobe and part of Mangistau regions) belong to Europe geographically). At the moment, Kazakhstan is participating in the qualifying tournament for UEFA Champions League 2014. Our country is in the same group with Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Austria and Faroe Islands. For more information and updates, refer to the official website of Kazakhstan National Soccer team at www.ffk.kz.
Boxing is the second most popular sport in Kazakhstan. Our Boxing Federation was formed in 1959 and has achieved a lot since then. Here are the achievements from the Olympic Games:
2000 – At the Sydney Olympics, Kazakhstan won 2 gold and 2 silver
2004 – At the Athens Olympics, Bakhtiar Artaev became an Olympic champion in welterweight and the second in the history of Kazakhstan’s boxing after Vasily Jirov to be awarded the most prestigious trophy in boxing; the Val Barker Cup.
2008- At the Olympics in Beijing, Bakhit Sarsekbayev became the Olympic champion in welterweight, and Erkebulan Shynaliev won a bronze medal in light heavyweight.
2012 – At the XXX Summer Olympic Games in London Serik Sapiev won the welterweight gold medal and became the third Kazakh boxer awarded “Val Barker Cup”. Adilbek Niyazymbetov won a silver award in light heavyweight, and Ivan Dychko bronze in super heavyweight. Held on for the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, in women’s boxing tournament Marina Volnova won the bronze medal in middleweight.
Nowadays, the boxing team “Astana Arlans” is on top in the World Series of Boxing. They won the III World Series of 2013 Boxing season.
Of course, I must mention Gennadiy Golovkin: one of Kazakhstan’s favorites, who is popular all over the world. Gennadiy is a 31 year-old WBA and IBO middleweight champion since 2011. In this year’s championship, he won all 27 fights in the professional ring, 24 of them ending by KO. On October 2nd, a long-expected fight between Gennadiy and US boxer Curtis Stevens will happen at the famous Madison Square Garden in New York City. Boxing fans probably heard about how Curtis “buried” Gennadiy on his Instagram.
As Stevens later apologized, he said it was nothing personal just PR and hyping the fight. Anyway, I bet everyone is super excited about upcoming fight 😉
The third favorite sport in Kazakhstan is hockey. Team “Torpedo” from Ust-Kamenogorsk (East Kazakhstan) is the best hockey team in the country. Evgeny Paladyev from “Torpedo” is a three-time world champion, who played seven years for the Moscow “Spartak” team. The Kazakhstan national hockey team (composed of “Torpedo” players), shared 5-8 places with Team USA, Sweden and Belarus at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano. In 2002 Kazakhstan’s Maxim Kuznetsov of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup. Current goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes Anton Khudobin is from Kazakhstan.
The fourth most liked sport is cycling. The main “engine” of popularity for cycling in Kazakhstan are the victories of the outstanding Kazakh rider Alexander Vinokourov in prestigious Pro Tour races and, of course, his gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. Also, Alexey Lutsenko’s recent victory in the World Cup 2012 inspires Kazakh people to be involved in cycling.
In 2006, Pro Team Astana was created by A.Vinokurov and D.Akhmetov, the former prime minister of Kazakhstan. The captain of Pro Team Astana is Vincenzo Nibali ( nicknamed “Shark”). He’s an Italian professional road bicycle racer who won the 2013 Giro d’Italia. At the moment, Pro Astana Team, lead by Vincenzo, is participating in La Vuelta De Espana 2013, which started on August 24th and suppose to finish on September 15th. Astana team has won the team race so far, which was the first stage of the competition. Nibali is considered a highly expected candidate for a win, and the whole country is excited to know about the final results of the race!
Note: pictures retrieved from vesti.kz