Magic in Wrestling
A kind of response to Big's ?Lets get one thing clear?
Not only conditioning and training techniques can help a wrestler to improve his performance and to become a champ, but also countless kinds magics, rituals, taboos, fetishes and amulets which call on supernatural powers and spirits and which are used to promote good fortune, to protect the wrestler, to reduce tension, to give him extra strength or even to bewitch his opponent and to influence the outcome of the match.
A wrestler of Niger applies magic when preparing his cloth before a match.
When wrestling, a guy of Niger would wear not only the colorful thing (in the picture above or in his right hand in the picture below), but also several (up to 10) other belts (in his left hand in the picture) each having a particular function: one calling on the local spirits, another one protecting him from the spirits of the locality where his opponent comes from, another one against injuries etc. The magic things are kept in the small pockets which can be seen on the belts.
[In 2005, I visited an exhibition about traditional wrestling styles in the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. Various items, photos and videotapes in the sections presenting wrestling styles of Africa and of the Amazonian area pointed out the use of magic in wrestling: e.g. purifying and preparatory rituals as well as application of magic before or during wrestling contests of Diola and Wolof in Senegal. What was interesting: A written note to an item, a lion cloth of a wrestler from Niger, explained that before being sent to the museum, the cloth had been a subject of special rituals aimed to remove the magic powers from it.]
There are many examples (well most of them are not wrestling-specific) of how rituals, magic and taboo observance appear in wrestling also in our so-called technologically advanced societies. Before a competition, ordinary objects and act get ritualized: food/eating, hair cut and shaving (to shave or not, how and when?), shoes (the order in which they are put and the very act of tyeing the laces) etc... Good luck fetishes belong to the standard equipment.
Often these objects and activities remain out of public view. I picked some pictures of internationally successful wrestlers who wear a thread around one of their wrists during the matches.
Artur Taimazov with a red thread around his left wrist (2001 worlds)
I discussed this with Ossetian wrestlers and fans. They said: The red thread has a protective function. Many other wrestler wear it but it remains invisible for the audience because unlike Taimazov, they have it around their ankle (covered by the sock) or they put it (fasten it in some way) inside the singlet.
Iranian wrestlers wear green threads. I don't know the exactly function.
2002 world champ Mehdi Hajizadeh
2007 silver medalist Ebrahimi
In red singlet the 2002 & 2004 university world champ Saefi; in blue singlet the 2003 jr. world champ. Notice, both have the green thing around their left wrists.
Obviously, the training system as described/suggested by Big isn't enough to give wrestlers the sense of control and confidence.
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