Oil wrestling, or yağlı güreş as it is known locally, is one of the oldest sports in Turkey. Tournaments have been held since around 1350.
The tournament takes place in Kirkpinar, Edirne in June/July every year. Wrestlers from all over the country travel to Kirkpinar to take part in this historic event.
What is Oil Wrestling?
Oil wrestling is described as two people engaging in a physical and mental struggle without using tools or equipment under equal conditions. The wrestle takes place in a specified area, according to certain rules and for a specified time.
Wrestlers are dressed in cropped leather trousers using rope for a belt. They are then doused in olive oil before they take part. As well as the olive oil making the wrestling even more of a challenge, it is said that it acts as a good sunscreen and as a way to keep the flies away.
Many wrestling matches take place at the same time, with a separate umpire for each match. Even the most unenthusiastic spectator would be entertained.
One of the most important requirements for being a wrestler is to have positive character traits that complement the spirit of the sport of wrestling. Wrestlers are expected to conduct themselves with the understanding that they are being watched by everyone from their closest family to unknown spectators.
The overall winner walks away with a golden belt which is his for a year, as well as the title of Chief Wrestler.
If the competitor wins three consecutive tournaments they then become the permanent owner of the prestigious golden belt.
Taking The Sport Forward
Younger wrestlers are also encouraged to take part to ensure that this traditional sport continues to thrive.
As well as the wrestling there are stalls selling traditional Turkish delights such as Köfte plus hot and cold drinks.
The tournament was added to the list of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.
If you want a truly Turkish experience then a trip to an oil wrestling tournament is an absolute must.
When Is It?
The dates vary every year, but if you ask a local or go to the belediye you can find out but it is always at the end of summer from the end of July to the end of August, this year (2022) the tournament was held on the 27th of August.
Here are some photos from this years tournament
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