Turkish Oil Wrestling

Matches for the 2023 wrestling are scheduled to be held in July. The wrestler Mr. Cengizhan Simsek, who holds the title of “bas pehlivan,” won the final match. The 661st edition of the matches will take place between July 1-3. Due to the threat of the corona virus, it has been canceled, but the matches for the 659th edition were scheduled between July 5-29 in 2020. The tournament takes place in Edirne at the end of July or the beginning of July and the end of June. It is the most important and famous tournament in the country, taking place throughout Turkey. The wrestlers wear tight leather shorts made of buffalo leather weighing approximately 29 pounds (13 kilograms), called “Kispet,” which are covered with olive oil. Wrestling Oil, or “gures yagli Wrestling,” literally means oiled wrestling and is one of the most popular sports in Turkey.

Singings and traditional musical instruments from Turkey, such as the ‘davul’ (percussion instrument) and ‘zurna’ (a specific kind of flute), accompany the local dances during the festivities. A highly favored culinary delight typically consists of roasted lamb. The festivities continue until the early hours of the morning, filled with music, jubilation, and a vibrant fair.

The tournament developed into a custom in Edirne province and they began organizing oil wrestling competitions over time. Numerous springs emerged on the site and the place was named Kirkpinar (Forty Springs) when soldiers visited the burial ground years later. Both individuals died, grew fatigued, and engaged in wrestling matches from morning until midnight during the annual Spring festival (May 6), held in Ahirköy. Süleyman Pasha offered the victor a leather pant (kispet) as a reward when they would continue their match. They commenced wrestling for amusement at the location they set up camp, and two of them wrestled for hours but neither succeeded in emerging as the winner. The Turkish Oil wrestling style solidified as a distinct sport during a military campaign initiated by Ottoman sultan Orhan Gazi to conquer Rumeli (Thrace) – the European side of Turkey’s Marmara region. Throughout the period when Islam was introduced to Asia Minor, spirituality and philosophy became integral to the physical attire of the pehlivan, and we can trace the fundamental rules from this era. The term “Pehlivan” for a wrestler was initially utilized during the period when the Parthian (238 BC – 224 AD) expelled the Greeks from Iran. Rostam, perpetually safeguarding his country from malevolent forces, is the legendary pehlivan (wrestler) of this epoch. The history of the oil wrestling tournaments can be traced back to the Persian Era, a period that commenced in 1065 BC according to Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh.

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The wrestler known as “The baspehlivan” is invited to various wrestling championships in Turkey, continuing his wrestling season for 8 months. The Edirne Municipal Government, which organizes these championships, does not give travel expenses to those who cannot receive a travel allowance, but instead pays cash to the top three wrestlers and distributes both cash and gold awards. Along with his cash and gold awards, the wrestler also receives a 14-carat Golden Belt and a 1.5-kilogram weight for three consecutive years. Banks, as well as individuals or companies, also give cash awards to the wrestlers. The winner at Kirkpinar Edirne gains around $100,000 in cash and gold awards, along with the title of “Turkey’s Champion.” The winner at Kirkpinar Edirne also gains around $100,000 with the title of “Turkey’s Champion.”

Successful wrestler in the regional championships may be allowed to wrestle in the “bas” category, if he is found to be superior to his competitors. However, in order to wrestle in the “alti bas” category, which is one step higher than the “bas” category, the wrestler must have reached the final and must be the head of the category. This weight arrangement is not a deciding factor in the competition. The categories, called “boy,” are divided into groups based on weight. Each wrestler’s mastery and technique are closely observed by the referees. Before coming to Kirkpinar, the championships attend other wrestling competitions where wrestlers continue to train and improve their skills. The wrestler’s apprentice, known as “cirak,” teaches him the art of wrestling with oil and the bravery required in the arena. After his master, the wrestler, retires from the wrestling arena, the apprentice continues his tradition and trains with his master. Any wrestler who comes from a traditional upbringing

The older wrestler can control the younger wrestler by using this technique called ‘paca kazik’ in the game and beating his opponent. He can hold him from the lower end of his pants and control him this way. It is not possible to put an arm or hand through, as he is tied to a kispet. Wrestlers try to put their hands through their opponents’ kispet as much as possible. Most wrestling games are made on the kispet in wrestling oil. Holding the wrestling suit is considered a foul in Olympic wrestling.

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Doping control was introduced during the Edirne Kirkpinar in 1999. At the final stage, the winner is called the “Golden point” and is the first pehlivan to score a point. If there is no winner after 7 minutes of score wrestling, the match continues until a winner is determined. In other categories, the wrestling time is limited to 30 minutes and the winners are those who can score points in this time frame. If there is still no winner, the pehlivans wrestle for 7 minutes with the score recorded. After 1975, wrestling in the baspehlivan category was limited to 40 minutes. The wrestling games would start at 9 am and continue until dusk. If the pehlivans were unable to defeat each other, they would continue wrestling on the following day. Sometimes, the pehlivans would wrestle for one day, and other times, they would wrestle for two days until one of them established superiority over the other. Prior to 1975, there was no time limit for wrestling in Kirkpinar.

The President, the “Ağa” (patron), and the mayor present the baspehlivan’s award. Typically, the President of Turkey arrives in Edirne on this occasion to witness the finals of Kirkpinar, where the ultimate wrestling matches take place on the concluding day.

Kirkpinar spectators, including Gul Abdullah and Demirel Suleyman, as well as Turgut Ozal, have all become “aga,” which means the “sultan” of all agas in the country. Over time, Selim Seyfettin has become the highest bidder with a bid of 4.022.000 Turkish Lira. He is able to cancel a wrestler and disqualify them if necessary, and even stop a match. In Edirne, he organizes festivities, hands out medals to the winners in their respective categories, and also hosts big dinners at the hotel, welcoming his guests. He is also a sponsor and becomes the highest bidder for the next year’s “Aga.” Bids are placed on a ram, and the municipality organizes an auction just before the finals.

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In 1899, Ahmet Kara, a renowned wrestler, achieved the title of world champion in Paris. Mahmut Yusuf Dobrucali, Yusuf Kucuk (Huseyin) Adali, Kurtdereli Yusuf Koca, the Great Yusuf, and Abdulaziz Sultan took a trip to Europe and America, where they wrestled and gained recognition. Alico, who participated in Kirkpinar for 27 years, became an unbeatable “Baspehlivan,” setting a remarkable record. Alico, along with Ibo Kara Samdancibasi and the Great Ibrahim Kavasoglu, were the prominent wrestlers under the leadership of Abdulaziz Sultan.

Why Do They Use the Oil?

In such competitions, the wrestlers lubricating each other is a representation of the significance of “balance”. The enhancement of the human character has been acknowledged to be detrimental without the spiritual connection in wrestling. Our soul and spiritual essence are the other half of the human equation, man is not simply composed of substance. The religious themes of the past are carried forward by Japanese Sumo Wrestling and Turkish Kirkpinar, just like five thousand years ago. For seven hundred years, wrestlers in the Ottoman Empire were raised in religious environments known as “tekke”. Wrestling has been associated with religious individuals known as “shamans” and “dai” in Central Asia. Five thousand years ago, the initial wrestling illustrations were discovered in Egypt in Beni Hasan temple which was constructed. The practitioners of the sport of wrestling have trained in religious settlements for numerous years.

According to the English thinker Russell Bertrand, the Roman Empire collapsed due to the spread of malaria caused by infected mosquitoes. During those times, it was impossible to live at sea level above 400 meters because the mosquitoes were not sufficiently protected from smoke during sunset, burning animal feces, and mosquito nets. The Anatolian people, who spent their days applying olive oil onto their oiled bodies, continued to wrestle with their oiled bodies in this new style of wrestling that had emerged. They had learned to mix a specific ingredient with olive oil for complete protection from mosquitoes. The Roman Empire was long gone, but the knowledge of mixing olive oil with a specific ingredient for complete protection from mosquitoes had been gained by humans.

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