Wrestling for Olympic Success

Politics, Documentaries

Wrestling for Olympic Success

A group of Afghan wrestlers is hoping to reach the London 2012 Olympics later this year. The type of wrestling they do is not typical; it’s called ‘Zorkhaneh’ where moves have to be made to the beat of a drum.

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Transcripts / Production notes / Scripts



It’s a type of wrestling known as ‘zorkhaneh’ which translates to ‘the house of strengths’ in the Afghan language of Dari.

It’s a traditional sport in Afghanistan and countries such as Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey.

Initially the sport was created for training warriors for battle a thousand years ago.

Now, however the players are taking on a very modern battle, to compete in the London 2012 Olympics.


“It's a dream of every sportsman to get a medal in the Olympic games and raise its country's flag”.


“Zorkhaneh is an ancient Afghan sport. In the past this sport was also known as ‘Zarbemil’. During the Habibullah Khan and Amanullah Khan’s government, our sportsmen paraded heavy equipment before entering the match. Everyone was very interested in watching them”.

Zorkhaneh is a place to gain strength, modesty, humbleness and avoid arrogance.
There are a couple of unusual objects involved in the sport, participants have to lift heavy wooden shields and raise a band made up of metal rings, above their heads
The game changes to keep pace with the beat of a drum.


“In Zarbemil, “Zorkhaneh” we had one flute, a drum and rings, which when played together had a great sound. When they were playing these instruments, the trainers were standing in the middle of circle and around them the participants were wearing only shorts, moving their feets and hands”.


This was one of the only sports allowed under the reign of the Taliban.

Since 2001, it’s attracted even more fans, not only in Kabul, but country-wide.


“Our wrestlers have participated in many national and international games and have returned home with very good results. They have participated in the Nepal games in which our team came third out of 33 countries. They came second out of 24 countries in south Korea games”.


“My first competition was in Kabul which was a friendly match between neighbouring countries. I have also attended Asian and international games and I have brought back many silver and gold medals from different countries”.


This group of wrestlers could end up representing Afghanistan at the London Olympics this year.

Yet like other sportsmen and women here, they’ll have to go through qualifying rounds first.


“Currently boxing, judo and wrestling are not qualified, but we hope that they will be. We’re preparing as best we can with the facilities we have and we hope that our teams can enter the London 2012 Olympics”.


“We are trained well enough to take part in the Olympic games but before the Olympic games we have one competition in Iraq and a second in Malaysia. Then we will hopefully compete in the Olympic games in London”.

This is Sayed Mansoor in Kabul, Afghanistan for the NATO Channel.


Language: English

Year of Production: 2012

Length: 03:41

Country: Afghanistan