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Turkish Oil Wrestling | The Amazing National Sport of Turkey

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turkish oil wrestler pouring water over himself

Turkish oil wrestling (also known as grease wrestling) is the national sport of Turkey. An annual event known as Kirkpinar holds the Guinness World record for the longest-running sports competition, having occurred since 1362. Over 2,000 wrestlers a year participate in this event. Kirkpinar was even recognized by UNESCO as a heritage event in 2010.

Competitors wear hand-stitched leather trousers called kisbets.

turkish oil wrestler lacing his kismet (uniform)
wrestler lacing up his kisbet

Wrestlers are covered in oil before the match as this makes it more difficult to gain a grip on your opponent. Turkish oil wrestling always uses olive oil and the quality of the oil is considered important.

turkish oil wrestlers

As competitors are announced they do a sort of dance as they enter the field.

turkish oil wrestler entering the field for competition
turkish oil wrestlers entering the field
turkish oil wrestler entering the field

Wrestlers assume positions and as a referee blows a whistle the match begins.

turkish oil wrestlers
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestlers

In ancient times matches had no set duration and could go for up to two days. Sets would begin in the morning and continue until dusk before resuming the next day. It wasn’t until 1975 that a forty-minute cap was placed on matches.

turkish oil wrestling

Unlike traditional wrestling, oil wrestling matches can be won by gaining hold of your opponent’s kisbet. This means during a match competitors need to protect their own kisbet while trying to attack his challenger. To gain hold the wrestlers will go down the back of their opponent’s uniform. Winning using this move is known as paca kazık. 

turkish oil wrestling
turkish oil wrestlers
turkish oil wrestlers
turkish oil wrestling
turkish oil wrestlers

Referees are on hand to announce match winners.

turkish oil wrestler

The winner of the event earns the title of a wrestler in chief and is awarded a cash prize. In ancient times winners were awarded bulls, camels, and thoroughbred horses.

One of the most famous wrestlers in chiefs came from the Ottoman Period and was known as Alico the Bald. He held his title for twenty-six years, a record which remains unbroken to this day.

Visiting other destinations in Turkey? Check out our other guides:

Additional Shots Of Turkish Oil Wrestling On The Field:

turkish oil wrestler

turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestlers
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler
turkish oil wrestler

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turkish oil wrestling

Have you ever heard of Turkish oil wrestling? Would you attend a match? Leave a comment in the section below.

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Stacey

Tuesday 9th of May 2017

Wow, never knew all of this. Thanks for sharing. The win condition of grabbing a hold of one's garments is kind of interesting xD

Coral (Curious Appetite)

Wednesday 5th of October 2016

I love the arm fisting bit x

Vladu

Sunday 25th of September 2016

I will definitely go there next year haha

Sarah

Saturday 24th of September 2016

Very interesting! I can't even fathom how long this has been going on for. 1326! Crazy.

Larry and Jaala

Saturday 24th of September 2016

Thanks for sharing the traditional sport and pretty cool to learn about something that most don't get the chance to see first hand in their lifetime. I think every culture is driven to sporting challenges and competitions! Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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