We went on the weekend before 'mens day' and found ourselves treated to military parades dancing marching bands and a myriad of other entertainment before the action started.
Over 200 wrestlers started and the 'first round' alone lasted over an hour with a seemingly constant stream of men entering the ring performing their pre fight rituals and locating their opponents.
There are no weight categories and this first round is drawn on the less than fair basis that the list from top ranked to lowest is simply folded in half so the top ranked faces the lowest ranked. These first bouts did not take long, you do wonder how you ever move up the rankings if as a newcomer you are constantly facing the best opponents but that's the way it is. By the time we got to the bouts nearer the middle of the fold things were getting more competitive and the 20 minute rule came into effect.
If the bout has run for 20 minutes then a referee comes over with a box with a dice showing only two colours, he shakes and the winner gets to choose the 'most advantages hold'. This hold definitely favours the bigger wrestlers and the 20 minute rule is being blamed for the growing size of Mongolian wrestlers and the fact that the more faster smaller wrestlers no longer get much of a look in as the bigger guys can wait it out and hope for the 'advantage hold'. Alternate rounds from this point on gave the top ranked wrestlers the opportunity to choose their opponents, respect had to be shown by the young up and coming wrestlers at all times or these experienced guys would ensure you never passed the second round if word got out that you were in any way disrespectful.
Anyway by the time we got to the semi finals some 4.5 hours later we were treated to some controversy as the crowd objected to the antics of one of the wrestlers and empty plastic drinks bottles rained down on the ring one hitting the object of their derision on the head and causing a small cut. All while the other semi final bout continued on in the background.
His brother - also a wrestler took to the stands looking for the person who threw it which ended in much comical pointing at anyone but the person next to you. In the end this particular wrestler was given a route to the final by the judges and a large section of the crowd left shouting their displeasure. He did lose the final though which was some justice. All in all 5 and a bit hours of entertainment - I enjoyed it, was lucky to have a wrestling enthusiast and colleague sitting next to me to explain the intricacies, but it was a long day and we were starving by the end of it and quickly headed for the nearest restaurant, and Indian we have not been to for a while. After the meal we managed to get a carry out menu in English, I think we may be using them more frequently in future. Excellent end to a long but interesting day.