Khutulun (circa 1260-1306)
Art by Tara (tumblr)
Khutulun was the great-great granddaughter of Genghis Khan. Her father, Kaidu, ruled a large swath of Central Asia and actively opposed his uncle, Kublai Khan.
Khutulun accompanied her father on military campaigns, which was not unusual in her culture. Mongolian women were known as skilled horseback riders and hunters. It was not unheard of for Mongolian women to participate in battle.
What made Khutulun unique was her wrestling ability. She competed in public wrestling competitions and is said to have won 10,000 horses from her opponents. According to Marco Polo, Khutulun refused to marry unless a man could first defeat her in wrestling. No prospective groom ever won her hand and Khutulun eventually chosen her own husband, possibly in attempt to quell rumors that she was sexually involved with her father.
Khutulun was her father’s favorite child and one of his most trusted advisers. Kaidu may have hoped to make Khutulun his successor. After Kaidu’s death in 1301, Khutulun formed an alliance with her brother Orus which allowed her to remain commander of the military until her own death in 1306.
More information: The Wrestling Princess (Lapham’s Quarterly)