Though a niche spectator sport, camel wrestling attracts a passionate fan base, particularly in this area.
The tradition stretches back thousands of years among Turkic tribes, but is now pretty much confined to the Aegean area, and specifically to families of camel owners, who are proud to train the descendants of famous winners of bygone years.
Over the roar of the supporters, the boom of the commentator's megaphone and the tinkle of camel bells, everyone is listening out for the scream of defeat which will surely come from one of the struggling combatants any moment now. Puffs of spittle-foam fall from their lips over the crouching umpires, who are warily checking for illegal knee-biting within the melee. The owner of the victor literally dances with delight, beaming happily into the lens of a national television camera hovering nearby. The Aegean coast of Turkey is probably best-known for the ancient sites of Ephesus, Troy and the seaside resort of Bodrum; but this also happens to be the tour route of the annual Turkish camel wrestling competition, which snakes down the coast every winter, attracting legions of camel fanciers but few western tourists.
Suddenly, one of the lurching beasts gets a knee on the other's neck and it's all over. I attended a day of wrestling midway through the tour, in Selçuk, close to Ephesus, arriving the day before the wrestling for the obligatory pre-game camel beauty pageant.
In fact, the reputation for barbarism is unfair – the wrestling is much less violent these days.
He is worth 200,000TL (around £70,000), so that seems fair enough.
Now, the contestants are merely bored virgin males who would probably pick a fight with each other anyway.
Biting is forbidden, and the fight is broken up if the camels succumb to temptation – most are well-trained.
The fees paid to the camel owners for entering their animals in a wrestling bout, which lasts up to five minutes, range from around £3,500 to just £120.
The sport has always had a difficult relationship with the national government, which has considered it rather backward and embarrassing for Turkey's image ever since the formation of the Republic in the 1920s.