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Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival: 21 - 27 of June, 2010

Edirne, Turkey

Have you ever heard of a unique sporting event held in Turkey? Yagli gures means literally oiled wrestling. The wrestlers wear tight short leather trousers called "Kispet", made of water buffalo leather weighing approximately 13 kilograms, and they cover themselves with olive oil. Matches take place throughout the country but the most famous and most important tournament takes place in Edirne. This year, the 649th edition will be held between the 21st and 27th of June. Historical "Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling" is the oldest wrestling festival in the world!

This championship has deep cultural roots and traditions. The history of the oil-wrestling tournaments as we know today links back to the Persian Mythical Era, which, according to Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, started 1065 BC. The legendary pehlivan of this era is called Rostam, a hero constantly saving his country from the evil forces. Nowadays, this Oil Wresting event hosts persevering contests for a week, with the active participation of media, folk-dance groups, millions of spectators, artists and statesmen both from Turkey and all over the world, and with a varying array of activities every year.

The rules of the competition are similar to those of regular wrestling championships. The wrestlers attend other wrestling championships before coming to Kirkpinar. The referees closely know the technique and mastery of each wrestler. The categories are divided into groups called "boy." In this arrangement, weight is not a deciding factor. A wrestler weighing 120kg might not be allowed to wrestle in the "bas" (head) category. This wrestling is like nothing else in the world!

Why oil? There is a version to explain all that. The oil at that time was used in cooking and for protection from mosquitoes. Humans learned to mix a specific ingredient "kafur" with olive oil for full protection from mosquitoes. The people of the regions infected mosquitoes that spread Malaria who spent day by day applying olive oil on to their bodies, continued to wrestle with their bodies oiled, and a new style of wrestling surfaced from this condition. The enthusiasm, brought to life by oil-wrestling contests, as well as the various entertaining performances make this event a unique Turkish experience.

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