Khridoli and leloburti are nonmaterial monuments of Georgia

Khridoli and leloburti are nonmaterial monuments of Georgia


Georgy Kalatozishvili, Tbilisi. Exclusively to Vestnik Kavkaza

Irakly Garibashvili’s government adopted the State program of development of sport for 2014-2020. Along with support of international kinds of sport, the document requires encouragement of national sporting traditions, including Georgian wrestling called khridoli and a local variant of rugby – leloburti. Moreover, the government decided to declare khridoli and leloburti “nonmaterial monuments” and intends to make the UNESCO recognize their status. At the moment the UNESCO recognizes the Georgian polyphonic song and the tradition of producing wine in big jars dug in the ground as a part of the world heritage.


The Ministry of Sport and Tourism is developing a special document headlined “On Measures for Development of National Kinds of Sport.”  It requires organization of regular championships, including khridoli championships of Georgia. “If the Japanese managed to gain the world recognition of judo, why don’t we try to do the same?” Mamuka Lebanidze, an employee of the ministry, told Vestnik Kavkaza. According to him, “even if khridoli championships demand extra investments, preservation of the national tradition deserves this.”


In fact khridoli is not simple wrestling, but a martial art which maintains in mountain regions of Georgia – Khevsureti and Tusheti. It is similar to sambo which unite various styles of combat.


In mountain villages there is a tradition of annual contests; winners are honored as local Olympic champions. By the way, there are athletes who won many prestigious championships, but went in for national wrestling in childhood.


The phenomenon of leloburti (lelo in short) is connected with the west Georgian province of Guria on the Black Sea coast. Annually residents of several villages make a heavy ball (17 kg), it is no bigger than a football ball, and organize a contest in which hundreds participate. The aim is to take the ball across a neighboring village and resist rivals. The annual contest gathers dozen thousand spectators, it is broadcasted by TV. Despite wounds, lelo always ends with a friendly dinner paid by winners.