Tehran, 25 January 2006 (CHN) -- The first session of Asian and world Alish championships, a sport somewhat like judo or wrestling, started yesterday, 24th of January, in Tehran with participation of 110 athletes from more than 30 countries.
It is the first time that Alish championships are held internationally. From now on, Alish championships will be held every year in a different country with Iran being the first host of these championships. Alish World Federation was established Four years ago by the membership of 54 countries, and this year 23 Asian countries, one African country and 7 European countries have sent their athletes to Iran compete in this championship.
These games will run until 25th of January in 5 weight categories in the Wresting Hall located in Azadi Stadium of Tehran. Athletes will reside in the Olympic Hotel of Tehran during the championship.
Visiting cultural and historical sites of Tehran such as the bazaar and the Golestan Palace by the team of athletes is one of the cultural programs set by Public Sports Federation of Iran during these games to introduce Tehran's attractions to domestic and foreign athletes.
"Since we are short in time, participant teams might not be able to see many of the cultural and historical sites of Tehran, but we have provided the facilities for those interested in visiting these sites between their tight schedules," said Rahim Jahangiri, an expert from the Public Sports Federation.
By holding these championships, Iran is trying to introduce its local and traditional sports to the world to attract more European tourists to this country.
Alish is a sport like wrestling and judo in which athletes wear a special dress with a wide belt like that worn by judo players. This sport has a 300-year-old history in Iran and it is the most popular one in the provinces of Mazandaran, Gilan, Khuzestan, and Semnan. According to Jahangiri the popularity of this sport in these provinces is in such a way that more than 5,000 individuals would come to watch the games whenever a local competition is being held in Sharoud or Gonbad cities.
According to Jahangiri, this sport is very popular in Central Asian countries. Most of the wrestling champions in Eastern Asia have a Persian identity but their names have been changed.
A similar sport to Alish is popular in Japan. This sport is called Sumo and is a Japanese style of wrestling. It is considered by the Japanese as their national sport, and is one of the factors that attract a lot of European tourists to this country every year. This sport was originated in the ancient times as a performance to entertain the Shino Gods. Some religious rituals are still practiced in Japan today.
In Japan, six Sumo tournaments are held every year and each one lasts 15 days. Most elite wrestlers are highly trained athletes and are between 20 to 35 years of age. Besides working out, what the wrestlers do to bring their bodies to shape and make themselves ready for these competitions is that they eat large amount of food and go to bed right after in order to gain mass. These wrestlers live in special Sumo houses where the rules are very strict, especially for lower ranked athletes.
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