Of all the traditional local sports in the Canary Islands, there can be no doubt that it is the Canary wrestling that is still the most popular through to this day. The oldest chronicles with respect to the islands made allusion to this sport practised by the islanders and passed down from one generation to the next. According to the Chronicles, these wrestling bouts were organised to solve conflicts with respect to land and other matters.
The tradition is as alive as it was centuries back. The same rites and rituals have been maintained although the matches are now organised for sporting reasons only and in areas specially designed for the same, types of arenas called “terreros”. On these arenas, the wrestlers try to tumble their opponent, using skill often more than sheer strength. The winner is the wrestler who manages to floor his opponent making them touch the arena with any part of their body.
Although this is a type of combat, respect for one’s adversary is the essence itself of the sport. Nobility, respect for the loser, team spirit and regard for the rules are all tacit elements of Canary wrestling. Each time a wrestler is tumbled, the winning opponent helps him up and hugs him respectfully before abandoning the arena.
Wrestlers can be big tough-looking guys and many of them are a fair size. However, to be a wrestler, you don’t only have to be strong but to be agile, to catch your opponent’s weak points and use them to good effect to knock him off balance. Wrestling matches are organised by rounds that bring together opponents from two teams who are eliminated as they fall in the various bouts. Wrestlers grasp each other by the clothes at the beginning of the bout and when the referee gives the go ahead, they set to, to try and tumble their rival to the ground.
The teams of Canary wrestling are organised by the Federation, set up in 1943, into regional and island competitions.