Oil Wrestling: Things to Know About Turkey’s National Sport

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Oil wrestling is a centuries-old custom in Turkey. This strange practice is so revered in Turkey that a historic annual festival honors it as the country’s national sport.

Attending an oil wrestling match in Turkey is a great way to learn about Turkish culture while also having a lot of fun. It is one of the best reasons to travel to Turkey.

Travelers planning to attend the Krkpnar oil wrestling event during their vacation can read this article for intriguing facts about Turkey’s national sport and helpful recommendations.

Prior to going to Turkey, foreign nationals are urged to check visa requirements and apply for the appropriate travel authorization which is Turkey eVisa in most cases.

History of Turkey’s Oil Wrestling

There is a long history of oil wrestling (Yal güreş in Turkish). Oil wrestling has been practiced for millennia and has roots dating back to the Persian Empire.

When Sultan Orhan Gazi ruled the Ottoman Empire in the mid-14th century, he made it a popular sport. Two soldiers are claimed to have died in a wrestling competition at Edirne, which has since become the site of the annual Kirkpinar tournament.

The sport of oil wrestling has remained mostly intact since its early days, with the same basic rules and tactics in place. Here you can check a lot more things to do in Turkey on your first visit.

Oil Wrestling’s Cultural Importance

Oil wrestling is not only a significant national sport in Turkey, but it also has cultural significance there.

UNESCO recognized the Kirkpinar tournament as a representative of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage in 2010 and added it to its list of representatives.

Male strength and physical power are prized in Turkish society, and oil wrestling serves as a showcase for that strength. Possibly one of the reasons for the sport’s long-term popularity is due to this fact.

The Rules of Turkish Oil Wrestling

Oil wrestlers in Turkey must wear kipsets, which are hefty leather pants. Olive oil is then smeared on each contender to make them more slippery.

Each wrestler’s goal is to put their opponent in a position where their navel is facing up into the sky. A 45-minute bout was introduced in recent years because fights may last for days in the past. Because of this, winning on points is now conceivable.

Turkey’s Oil Wrestling Festival in Kirkpiar

Tukey Oil Wrestling

This year’s Krkpnar festival is the best opportunity to observe Turkish wrestling in action. The festival takes place in Erdine, one of Turkey’s most attractive cities, in late June each year.

Competitors can be men of any age; spectators include male wrestlers of all ages and nationalities.

Rituals surround the tournament as a whole. The Kirkpinar Aga, the festival’s patron, launches the event with traditional drum and shawm music at a ceremony.

Before the bout, each wrestler, known as a pehlivan in Turkish, is introduced to the crowd and covered in oil.

At the conclusion of the competition, cash prizes are presented to the top two finishers.

Where is Turkey’s Kırkpınar Oil Festival Held

In Western Turkey, near the borders of Greece and Bulgaria, the Krkpinar festival is held. Edirne can be reached in slightly over three hours by automobile from Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport.

Tourists from all around the world, including Europe, Asia, and even the USA can visit Turkey to enjoy this traditional sports event. For more details, US citizens can check this guide on Turkey visa US citizens.

Edirne has a plethora of hotels and tourist attractions, including mosques, synagogues, and museums, all of which are worth visiting while you’re there.

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