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[ 16 Sep 2011 | 6 Comments ]
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Twenty four hours into my return trip to Mongolia and there is already plenty to report; including a new wrestling video, updates from the Guinness World Record tournament and some surprising news from the World Championships in Turkey. All that and a weather update from the coldest capital city in the world.
The Mongolian national team is in Turkey right now, leaving me without many of my closest in-country contacts. Tomorrow is the start of Mongolia’s record-breaking 4096 man wrestling tournament …

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[ 2 Aug 2011 | 2 Comments ]
Long Road Home

After 10+ weeks on the road I’m packing up the speedos and Jedi outfit to come home and start writing in-depth about my time on the steppe. The process will be painful at times as details aren’t easy to acquire in Mongolia. However, I’m confident that my network of friends in-country will help me separate truth from opinion. The goal has always been to get this thing in bookstores in time for the Olympic Games which means I don’t have …

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[ 26 Jul 2011 | 4 Comments ]

Last week’s Arkhangai Naadam figured to be my last competition of the trip. The main competition in Ulan Bator had ended, signaling – or so I thought – the end of Mongolia’s Naadam festivals. I’d also had friends headed into the country, the tentative game-plan being for us to motorcycle and initiate impromptu matches against people we met on our route. However, in a turn of luck I was able to find and schedule another Naadam in Moron, the capital …

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[ 21 Jul 2011 | One Comment ]

He’s a 21-year-old Mongolian Monster but my friends had traveled across the world to ride motorcycles on the steppe and watch me wrestle enormous Mongolian strangers – who was I to ruin their vacation?
Nasanbatar was our best friend forever (read: for the afternoon). He’d become the assistant to our guide Jargal (Ja-Ga) after we’d stopped the Fergen van and asked him for directions to a town some 130km north of Tsetserleg. Like most Mongolian interactions Nasanbatar immediately offered all types …

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[ 12 Jul 2011 | 7 Comments ]
Belly Bump

Mongolia’s annual Naadam festival celebrates the country’s three manly sports; archery, horse racing and wrestling. The largest and most important festival is held every year in the capital city of Ulan Bator with some 300k Mongolians making epic treks across the steppe to watch their favorite wrestlers compete for what is essentially immortality. However, not every Mongolian can make the trek, so many local communities hold smaller Naadams in the weeks surrounding the main event in order to relax, drink …

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[ 7 Jul 2011 | 10 Comments ]
Metcalf Push

American folkstyle wrestling is missing out on one of the most important aspects of traditional wrestling competitions – the victory dance.
I remember sitting in the University of Virginia Wrestling room in 1999 listening to then-captain, now-coach Steve Garland and a half-dozen other wrestlers fantasize about what they would do if they ever win the NCAA championship. Almost every celebration included some use of available props, in this case ankle bands. Guys floated the idea of using them as a grenade …

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[ 5 Jul 2011 | No Comment ]

“When you were born the nurse said you had the most beautiful ears, now I’ve seen buttons sewed on them – look at them, they’re gross.” – Mom
I like my ears, though they do present a couple of problems. For example, should they remain unattended to for several days, dirt and gunk can collect in the creases and folds causing a mildly foul stench. I also can’t wear normal earplugs on planes and have to buy the special in-ear units …

Featured, Last Man Standing, Mongolia »

[ 1 Jul 2011 | One Comment ]

Correction: China may have been easier to navigate than Mongolia. As I’ve already written, there is nothing easy about traveling through the world’s most sparsely populated country, but the past few days have been exceptionally littered with unforeseeable speed bumps deadfall traps.
Premier among the frustrations has been the visa office which is simply a holdover from Communist rule, probably developed by the Soviets as an experimental torture technique that they abandoned for harshness, but the Mongolians seem to enjoy. To …

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[ 28 Jun 2011 | One Comment ]

Mongolia is not a country where foreigners should expect to get things done in a hurry. I was suppose to have my motorcycle last night, but that was changed to this morning and then to “later this evening.” Setting up lodging is an equally cumbersome activity, wrought with promises that are rarely fulfilled. Then of course there is just the general communication breakdown that exists between speakers of a tonal language like Mongolian and a romance language like English. But …

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[ 25 Jun 2011 | One Comment ]
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He went a tournament best 4-1 in five matches at Saturday’s Mongolian World Team Trials, but Turtogtokh Luvsandorj still isn’t certain he’ll be representing his home country at September’s World Championships in Turkey. The Citadel junior who will wrestle 165 lbs. 174 lbs. in 2011, competed up at 84kg while only weighing in at 80kg. Turtogtokh has been my primary connection inside Mongolia.
Unlike the American World Team Trials the Mongolian tournament is not necessarily the final indicator of who will be …