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Turkish Oiled Wrestling

Listed under Spectator Sports in Central Antolia, Turkey.

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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.

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