Sport Traditions
are very
deep-rooted in the
Canary Islands
"Autochthonous Sports in Gran Canaria!"
Canarian Wrestling > Lucha Canaria
There are several old sport traditions in
the Canary Islands, the most popular of
which is "Lucha Canaria".  

Wrestlers start in the middle of a sand
circle, called "terrero". The object is to
make their opponent touch the sand with
any part of their body, except the feet. To
accomplish this, they use different
techniques called "mañas" to throw their
opponent off balance. Two falls are
required to win a bout. A match ends
when all the members of one team have
been defeated
Canarian wrestling comes from the
history of the Guanches, the earliest
known natives of the Canary Islands,
who probably brought it from North
Africa, although with limited contact
between the islands, each island then
developed different rules.

In 1420, shortly after the Spanish
conquest, Alvar García de Santa María
first recorded the wrestling techniques,
including the use of referees, or
“hombres de honor”. Only some of these
early rules and techniques have survived
to modern times. After the Conquest, the
sport became part of the islands’
folklore, only usually being fought at
celebrations or local festivals.

Lucha Canaria (Canarian wrestling)
The rules were first laid down in 1872,
making it one of the earliest defined
forms of wrestling. In the 1940s several
provincial federations were formed,
leading to formation of the “Federación
Española de Lucha” in 1984. As it needs
a sand circle, lucha is usually fought on
special pitches, and important matches,
particularly inter-island contests, are
covered by local Canarian TV. A seminal
event in the history of Canarian wrestling
was a remarkable challenge match held
on a beach at Las Palmas between a
team of wrestlers and Marcus Willerby's
touring party of international supperstar
beach cricketers, known the world over
as 'Willerby's Wanderers'. This match
was televised on Sky but was not played
to a finish because of sudden and
surprising inclement weather.

moves, or a series of moves, can be
divided in three groups

The wrestler may grasp any part of the
opponent's body to try to unbalance and
knock down the opponent.


The wrestler can block a move by his
opponent, and use his strength to
unbalance his opponent.

The wrestler can move his body to deflect
a move by his opponent, and use the
opponent's strength to un-balance him.

Illegal Moves"
Punching, hitting and strangling are not

  • Plough Lifting (Levantamiento del Arado)

  • Pole Fighting (Lucha del Garrote)

  • Pulling Loads with Cattle (Arrastre de

  • Stone Lifting and Pushing (Levantamiento
    y Pulseo de Piedra)

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