Prior to 1991 there were a number of regional Kurash variations in Central Asia. The common object of these different styles was to win by throwing the opponent onto their back. The differences were mostly in the way the wrestlers could grip their opponent. Styles could be generally subdivided into two categories; those allowing wrestlers to take a free hold of the jacket and/or belt and “backhold” variations which were restricted to holding the belt only.

Following independence in 1991, HE President Islam Karimov established the goal of presenting Kurash as an international sport as part of his initiative to promote Uzbek history, culture and traditions to the world. President Karimov invited Komil Yusupov, a famous Uzbek Kurash, Judo and Sambo athlete, to develop an international form of Kurash synthesized from all the regional styles which could be released onto the international stage. Yusupov set to work and by 1992 had produced standardised rules based around the freehold version of Kurash whilst cleverly retaining the backhold element within. The addition of uniforms, weight classes, tournament protocols and a robust scoring system ensured Kurash met the requirements of a modern international sport.

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