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HomeCultureWrestling With Modernization – The Diplomat

Wrestling With Modernization – The Diplomat

One of the most iconic popular images of Mongolia is that of nomadic herders, riding horses and living in gers (yurt tent-houses). The other is of powerfully built Mongolian wrestlers in traditional costume: a red or blue zodog (open-chested shirt), shuudag (heavy-duty briefs), wrestling boots, and a pointed Mongolian cap. As nomadism declines, the work of preserving Mongolia’s traditional culture is being done by the country’s wrestling coaches.

At first glimpse, Ulaanbaatar is not terribly different from the capital cities of other former Soviet satellites. There are coffeeshop chains, private hospitals, and a stock exchange, as well as tall office buildings that house banks and mining companies. With a population of roughly 3 million, Mongolia boasts around 80 universities, including about 10 international university programs in business, IT, and engineering. Less than an hour’s drive from the city limits, however, the…

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