May 22, 2018

Asian Muscle #1: Central Asia

Who hasn't dreamed of Central Asia?  The fabled Silk Road, with the Samarkand, Tashkent, and Bokhara?  Alexander the Great.  Transoxonia.  The Golden Hoarde.  The Empire of the Steppes.  Tamurlane.  The Realm of Prester John.

You can major in Central Asian Studies at Indiana University, and learn many of the Central Asian languages.  I was tempted to, but worried about job possibilities.  Except for the Pushto and Persian spoken in Afghanistan, they're all Turkic, and very closely related, almost but not quite mutually intelligible.

Kazakh: Mende ülken şujıq bar
Kyrgyz: Men çoŋ kolbasa bar
Uzbek: Menda katta sosis bor
Tajik: Man jak hasiʙ ʙuzurg hastam

Today most Central Asian states are former Soviet Republics plagued by nationalist fervor, terrorist cells, human rights violations, and some of the most ferocious homophobia anywhere.

Searching for Central Asian beefcake, I looked for swimmers, wrestlers, and bodybuilders in English, Russian, and the local language.

Azerbaijan is actually on the other side of the Caspian Sea, bordering Armenia and the Caucaus.

In 2016, Azerbaijani student Sadiq Hasanov, a student in Beijing, won the eighth annual student fitness model competition.

Turkmenistan, in southern Central Asia bordering  Iran and Afghanistan, offers this massive bodybuilder.

Uzbekistan, extending from the Karakum Desert through the Hindu Kush Mountains contains the main routes of the Silk Road.  It's very dry, and getting drier: the Aral Sea is almost completely gone.

Which doesn't affect the muscularity of the  Uzbek Tigers boxing team.

Bodybuilder Tajik Habibov does not live in Tajikistan, but in Volokolamsk, Russia, near Moscow.

Kyrgyzstan  has been variously under the control of the Turks, the Mongols, the Chinese, the Uzbeks, and the Soviets.

Kazakhstan, mostly a vast, grassy wasteland ("the steppes"), doesn't have a lot of archaeological and historical sites to recommend it, but it does have bodybuilders.

And wrestlers.


  1. Kurdish is Indo-Iranian. Just putting that out there.

    The most macho region of the world. Bodybuilding's huge in central Asia.

    1. Kurdish isn't a Central Asian language. It's more Middle Eastern, spoken in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.


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