In its 2,400-year history, the tradition of camel wrestling in Turkey has seen many winners and losers. But owner Ismail Egilmez had reason this year to celebrate a totally new kind of triumph. His beloved camel had just won the first-ever beauty pageant of its kind.
Standing in the main square of Selcuk, a town on Turkey’s Aegean coast that hosts the annual national championship of camel wrestling, he was at once composed and jubilant as he faced a minor scrum of local and international press. “I love the camel exactly as much as I love my family - it’s as precious as my kids,” he said.
The object of his devotion, seven-year-old Chariot, had just been crowned winner of Turkey’s first-ever camel beauty contest, held in Selcuk the day before the wrestling tournament.
The pageant featured a procession of drooling, half-ton males decked out in bright decorations, bells and bobbles, strutting before a panel of judges.
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Alexander Christie-Miller is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul, where he writes for the Times.