The Sport of Boli Khela

Bangladesh is a country comprised of people who have intense love for all types of sports. This love can at times lead the Bangladesh people into a state of euphoria encouraging the sport lovers and sportsmen to try even harder in their local and national sports. There are over twenty-seven different sports in Bangladesh that are internationally recognized one of these is Boli Khela or Bali bol Khela.

Boli Khela is Bangladesh’s traditional form of wrestling that was introduced in the early 20th century by Abdul Jabbar Saodagar. His desire was to cultivate a sport that would prepare the youth to fight against British rule. Broad appeal for the sport began at the end of the First World War but subsided at the end of the Second World War.

Today Boli Khela is one of the oldest traditions especially in the Chittagong region. Many of the dignitaries in the country who have participated in, supported or organized Boli Khela have originated from that part of the country showing the love that the people have for this sport.

The sport and name Boli Khela has its origins in two very different words. “Boli” means a strong or powerful person and the word “Khela, which is associated with sport or games. Boli Khela can be played throughout the year but is most popular in the months of March and April which is known on the Bangla Calendar as “Chaitra”. A festival usually takes place on the 25th of April in the port city Chittagong at the Laldighi Maidan attracts thousands of supporters each year.

This century-old sport of Boli Khela has over fifty participants that take part in the game during the festival with half of the wrestlers advancing to the second round. In recent years the game has been dominated by two men, Didarul Alam and Marmar Sing who have concurrently won the championships together. As the conclusion of the championship games both men resume their normal activities while waiting for the next adrenalin pumping games the following year.

Each year, Boli Khela attracts new participates and fans because the sheer enjoyment of the sport is not only contagious for local enthusiasts but inspires visitors and travelers to Bangladesh an opportunity to get a glimpse of an exciting and unique event.