Pakistani athletes will try their hand at Pehalvani/Zurkhaneh ,a traditional form of wrestling, in the Islamic Solidarity Games that are to start on Friday in Baku, Azerbaijan.
According to Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) official Zulfiqar Ali Butt, the sport of Zurkhaneh has existed in the northern areas of the country for more than a decade, although this is the first time local wrestlers will be participating at the Games.
He further explained that Zurkhaneh is played mostly in Iran and other Persian speaking regions. It is a very entertaining sport and our athletes have won medals at the Zurkhaneh Asian Championship in 2009 and 2014.
The travelling Zurkhaneh contingent is comprised of seven wrestlers, five of whom, per Butt, are from Peshawar, which signifies the popularity of the sport in the provincial capital.
Zurkhaneh competitions are further divided into two categories. There are demos, where the athletes have to showcase different techniques and then there are actual bouts. It is expected that Iran, Uzbekistan and other central Asian countries to be the main threat for Pakistani wrestlers at their debut Games.