ILLUSTRATED BOOK ENTITLED 'ARMENIAN SPORT AND GYMNASTICS IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE' PRESENTED

ArmInfo
2009-10-13 11:33:00

ArmInfo. On October 13th of 2009, at 14:00, the Armenian Genocide
Museum-Institute will host the congratulatory event dedicated to the
presentation of the illustrated book of the AGMI director Mr. Hayk
Demoyan, entitled "Armenian Sport and Gymnastics in the Ottoman Empire"
(in Armenian, 220 pages). The history of sport and physical training
among Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire is represented in it
with photos.

The book refers to the activities of Armenian sport clubs established
in Armenian populated cities of the Ottoman Empire, to the organization
of Pan-Armenian Olympic Games, to the history of intensively developing
athletic movement in Western Armenia and Cilicia, as well as refers
to the sport unions of Armenian women, to sport competition and
nationalism, to the establishment of Armenian scout movement. A
separate chapter is dedicated to the Armenian sportsmen who fell
victims to the Armenian Genocide.

The history of the development of Armenian sport and gymnastics in
the Ottoman Empire takes its beginning from the end of 19th century,
when the first athletic clubs and societies were established. Under
the rule of the Sultan, being engaged in sports or athletics was
strictly forbidden and those who broke this law were punished.

After the coup d'etat of Young Turks in 1908, the first Armenian
athletic clubs and football teams were formed in Constantinople and
Smyrna. During this period the first professional Armenian sportsmen -
Shavarsh Chrisian, Mkrtich Mkrian, Grigor Hakobian and others played
significant role in propagating athletics among the Ottoman Armenians.

A unique phenomenon in the history of sport of the Ottoman Empire was
the participation of two Armenian sportsmen in the 5th International
Olympic Games in Stockholm. Armenian athlets Vahram Papazian and
Mkrtich Mkrian became the first sportsmen who represented the Ottoman
Empire in the International Olympic Games.

The publication of the first sport magazine in the Ottoman Empire
by Shavarsh Chrisian, called "Marmnamarz" ("Athletics") (1911-1914),
offered an additional incentive for extending the interest towards the
sport among the Ottoman Armenians. "Marmnamarz", the "body of national
physical training", became the major instrument for the development of
sport and athletic life among the Armenian population. This magazine
published information about various sport games and their results,
as well as published photos of Armenian and foreign athletes and
Armenian football teams.

On the eve of World War I there were about 40 Armenian athletic clubs
in Constantinople alone. Armenian football teams took part in team
and international tournaments of several leagues in the capital. The
most famous football teams were "Balta Liman", "Araks" and "Torq". The
most famous team of Smyrna was "Hay Vorsordats Club" ("The Armenian
Hunters' club"). Armenian sport clubs were established also in Smyrna,
Nikomedia, Karin, Marzvan, Samson, Adana, Van, Caesarea, Dortyol,
Trapizon, Konya etc.

In 1911-1914 the Pan-Armenian Olympic Games were organized with
the participation of tens of Armenian sport and athletic clubs and
societies.

During the Games records were held and the winners were awarded with
silver medals. In 1914 were also held the first "Cilician Olympic
Games".

Many Armenian sportsmen fell victims to the Armenian Genocide. Among
them was Shavarsh Chrisian, the editor of "Marmnamarz", and after it
the publication of the magazine was stopped.