YEREVAN — On August 4, 2015, the presentation of the book “Armenian Sport and Gymnastics in the Ottoman Empire» by Armenian Genocide Museum Institute Director, Hayk Demoyan and the opening of a temporary exhibition of the same name will be held at AGMI.

This publication is the updated and revised version of the same volume published in 2009. The prehistory and development of the Armenian sport and gymnastic in the Ottoman Empire, as well as activities of sport clubs are presented in the book for the first time.

The temporary exhibition, including unique photos and materials, will open on August 4 and run through October 1.

Honorary guests of the event include the descendants of famous sportsmen and scout leaders Grigor Jololian, Shavarsh Krisian and Vahan Cheraz.

Historical Review: The history of the development of Armenian sport and gymnastics in the Ottoman Empire goes back to late 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 whoever broke the law was punished.

The first Armenian athletic clubs and football teams were formed in Constantinople and Smyrna in early 20th century. During this period the first professional Armenian sportsmen – Shavarsh Chrisian, Mkrtich Mkrian, and others played a 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 athletes 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, generating interest among the Ottoman Armenians to sport.

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, Samsun, Adana, Van, Kayseri, Dortyol, Trabzon, 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. In 1914 first Cilician Olympic Games were held.

Many Armenian sportsmen fell victims to the Armenian Genocide. Shavarsh Chrisian, the editor of “Marmnamarz” was among them, after which the publication of the magazine was stopped. During 1915-1920 many Armenian sportsmen were killed, and most of the sport clubs were closed.

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