Turkish Oil Wrestling

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Wrestling has been exercised in Turkey since 1640 and is a very popular sport. But Turkey has a unique traditional wrestling variation – Oil Wrestling.
The name is a big give away, the wrestlers cover themselves from head to foot with oil before they compete, it even has a dress code – wrestlers (Pehlivan) wear only a specially designed pair of pants (Kispet) made from water buffalo hide and often weighing more than 13kg.
In oil wrestling the majority of points are scored when the opponents hands go through the other persons kispet, by doing this the wrestler can grab hold of his opponents kispet lower down (paca) and in doing so control him.
A pehlivan is defeated as soon as his chest is facing upwards towards the sky, or as soon as an open fall occurs.

The largest and longest (since 650 years) oil wrestling tournament is held every year in Kirkpinar near Edirne between the months of June and July. The event lasts for 3 days, the sun can be hot and the fights can be long. At this event the winner is allowed to call himself the best oil wrestler in the country and takes home a belt made of 24 carat gold and weighs 1.5kg. This usually has to be returned every year.
During the fight if there is no winner after half an hour the match is decided with a sudden death overtime.
Turkish Oil Wrestling became established as a sport by the Ottoman Sultan, Orhan Gazi together with his brother and forty warriors while capturing fortresses. Where ever they camped to settle for the night the men would start to wrestle for pleasure, 2 of the men wrestled for hours but neither managed to win, they fought all day and night until eventually they both collapsed and died of exhaustion.
Their friends buried them where they died and left and when they returned to the burial site years later they were amazed to see that forty springs had arisen at the burial site and so it was named Kirkpinar (forty springs).
Oil Wrestling is a sport that is passed from father to son. If its not already in the family theres little chance of taking the sport up.
While all wrestlers may come across as being tough guys there skin is always very soft.

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