Trip Start Mar 13, 2007
92Trip End Aug 10, 2007
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Then I started having some second thoughts and worrying about what I got myself into. "I haven't wrestled since I was a kid", I thought. What if he tosses me over his shoulder and I actually get hurt? Is Mongolian wresting one of those adventure sports that's excluded from my travel medical insurance coverage?
Our match begins after dinner at our campsite in one of the world's most remote spots in a broad grassy valley between sand dunes in the distance in one direction and low forested mountains on the other side
There don't seem to be a lot of rules in Mongolian wrestling other than no punching, biting, kicking, or pinching and there are also no weight classes in the sport. One wins the match when any part of one's opponent's body other than his feet or hands touches the ground.
The match begins and we approach each other as everyone else forms a loose circle around us. Vanya quickly grabs onto me and I him, both of us trying to push each other down, grab each others leg to knock over, or trip backwards. This continues for what seems like an eternity but probably lasted only 5 to 6 minutes, I unable to knock Vanya down because I don't know the techniques and Vanya's superior experience unable to overcome my size advantage
Vanya calls a timeout, at which point I'm feeling more exhausted than I have for many years, as if I've been deadlifting heavy weight for the last six minutes. Before I know it, the refs call an end to the time out and we're at it again but not for long. Less than a minute after the timeout Vanya manages to trip me and I fall over. Tamir instructs us in a short traditional ceremony of victor over vanquished, but my head was spinning and I can't recall it.
Vanya later consoled me by telling me he's never lost a wrestling match to a foreigner on any of his tours and that I lasted longer than most. We continue roughhousing away for the next two weeks and Vanya teaches me a few wrestling techniques. Now I can't wait to get home to test what I've learned on my friends!