Qazaq Kuresi Bolsters National Identity and Educates Next Generation

ASTANA Qazaq kuresi, a form of traditional Kazakh wrestling, has not only gained increasing popularity but also holds a place of cultural significance in Kazakhstan. With roots tracing back to antiquity, the sport has survived through the ages.

Qazaq Kuresi World Championships in Astana in 2022. Photo credit:

The basic rules of Kazakh wrestling are straightforward: the objective is to throw your opponent to the ground, making any part of their body—other than their feet—touch the ground. Points are awarded depending on the complexity of the throw.

In 2020, the Qazaq Kuresi Association initiated a campaign to promote wrestling nationwide, with support from the Ministry of Culture and Sports. The initiative has made significant strides, culminating in the association’s admission to United World Wrestling in 2022.

“The primary aim is to elevate this form of wrestling on a global scale as both a cultural and athletic activity, while also striving for its inclusion in future Asian and Olympic Games,” said Damir Bekbosynov, the association’s executive director, in an interview with The Astana Times.

Video credit: Qazaq Kuresi. 

Qazaq kuresi has quietly extended its influence in international sports, gaining recognition as a separate and unique discipline.

According to Bekbosynov, the sport has attracted 159,000 participants and is supported by 4,427 specialized clubs.

“Through concerted efforts to nurture this national treasure, we aim to further boost these numbers,” he added.

Ongoing initiatives are in place to enhance the sport’s popularity and development, reflecting core cultural values such as courage, bravery, patriotism, and humanism.

“Kazakh wrestling has a historical legacy and traditions that have been carefully preserved for centuries. It has organically evolved into a unique ‘brand’ that has received considerable national attention, triggering targeted efforts to promote it, including its incorporation into educational curricula,” Bekbosynov noted.

Damir Bekbosynov, executive director of the Qazaq Kuresi Association. Photo credit:

In 2021, a pilot project introduced Qazaq kuresi into Astana’s school system. The program was developed and implemented in partnership with the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools.

“Our association’s experts have conducted educational sessions for physical education teachers, familiarizing them with the techniques and rules of the sport, while also sharing their invaluable expertise,” he said.

Initial trials have been conducted in 28 schools in Astana, where the sport is offered as an elective subject.

“Going forward, we plan to expand this initiative to educational institutions across all regions of Kazakhstan. We are also in talks to finalize a memorandum of understanding with the Binom School network to broaden the reach of our targeted programs,” Bekbosynov said.

According to him, children who participate in Kazakh wrestling benefit from improved reaction times and better coordination. They also learn the essential skill of maintaining balance.

Photo credit:

Internationally, the sport has garnered recognition, continuously evolving to incorporate new, visually captivating techniques that align it with modern Olympic wrestling styles.

“The Asian Adult Wrestling Championship took place in Uzbekistan in May, with the participation of over 100 athletes from 11 nations. To showcase our national sport, Kazakhstan hosted an international tournament in Shymkent, which brought together 190 wrestlers from five countries. In addition, the Yrgyzbay Doskhanov Grand Prix took place in June in the Aksuat village in the Abai Region, which included wrestlers from 15 countries across three weight categories,” he said. 

The association also engages in various activities to strengthen international relations. These include a visit to India, where a Kazakh Wrestling Championship took place in the state of Chandigarh.

“About 200 athletes from Kazakhstan participated in the event. The trip served as an opportunity to discuss the future of Kazakh wrestling in India, and our foreign counterparts even proposed hosting the upcoming Asian Championship on Goa Island,” he said.

The association also concluded a memorandum of cooperation with Shirim, the Korean Wrestling Association, aiming to promote traditional wrestling styles, facilitate knowledge exchange, improve athlete and referee skills, and collaboratively raise the standards of these ancestral sports.

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