World Reviewer rating

Not yet rated

Turkish Oiled Wrestling

Listed under Spectator Sports in Central Antolia, Turkey.

Photo of Turkish Oiled Wrestling
Pin It

Olive oil is said to be good for the skin, but you could be forgiven for thinking that this is taking it a little too far. 'Yagli gures', as it's known in Turkish, is one of the country's most popular sports and regional competitions take place all over the country, throughout the year, culminating in the Summer tournament and accompanying festival in Edrine.

Music, performances and roast lamb stalls serve as accompaniment to the hundreds of strictly amateur wrestling bouts, each of which can last up to 40 minutes, though at the time of the sport's inception, there was no time limit and a fight could continue for days at a time.

The original oiled wrestling match is said to have taken place between two Ottoman soldiers in the province of Edrine, during the mid-1300s. Along with their peers, they would test their strength by wrestling each other as evening entertainment en route to the lands they planned to conquer; these two, however, were exceptionally strong and evenly matched, and after a two-day struggle they both died of exhaustion. Their companions buried them where they fell, and their physical and spiritual struggle was immortalised thereafter in the form of forty springs - 'Kirkpinar' in Turkish, as the place is now called - which appeared from the ground

there as if by magic.

With the exception of the recently imposed time limits, tradition holds sway over all aspects of the sport. The wearing of heavy, calfskin shorts ('kisbet') by the competitors, the basic rules, the philosophical aspect and, of course, the application of olive oil, are said to date back as far as 1065 BC.

A number of theories exist as to why the olive oil was introduced; one is that, at the time of the sport's invention, people in Mediterranean regions would already have covered themselves in olive oil to prevent mosquitoes from biting them (-presumably, they just slipped off -) so the

oiled wrestling occurred by default. Another is that the oil is representative of the spiritual balance and respect between the competitors, as they are required to oil one another before the event. It is hard not to suspect, however, that it is simply because it's more fun to watch...

Written by  larapiegeler.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

There are no posts. Why not be the first to have your say?

Post a comment, review or question

I want to
My comment - optional
Rating - how would you rate this place or experience?

Who's been here

No travelers have told us they have been here. Have you?

Similar Experiences

  • Super Bowl Sunday

    The Super Bowl is the National Football League’s showcase as the National Football Conference (NFC) champion faces off against …

  • Muay Thai at Rajadamnern Stadium

    Normally fighting with elbows, kicks to the shin and knees to the soft bits is considered pretty poor form but it's all allowed…

  • Spanish Football At Camp Nou

    The Camp Nou has hosted some of the finest football players in the world since its construction in 1957. As the home of FC Barc…

Nearby Experiences

  • Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği

    This region of Anatolia was conquered by the Turks at the beginning of the 11th century. In 1228–29 Emir Ahmet Shah founded a m…

  • Nemrut Dagi

    Situated at 2150 meters in the mountains of south central Turkey stands the archaeological site of Nemrut Dagi. The unique moun…

  • The Anatolian Cave Suites

    The Anatolian Cave Suites are in the heart of the ancient region of Cappadocia, amongst the awe-inspiring volcanic landscape wh…

Related links

Contribute to this page