Oil wrestling tournament in Istanbul
|Also known as||Turkish Wrestling|
|Country of origin||Turkey|
Oil wrestling (Turkish: yağlı güreş), also called grease wrestling, is the Turkish national sport. It is so called because the wrestlers douse themselves with olive oil. It is related to the Uzbeki kurash, Tuvan khuresh and Tatar köräş. The wrestlers, known as pehlivan (Persian: پهلوان meaning "hero" or "champion") wear a type of hand-stitched lederhosen called a kisbet (sometimes kispet), which is traditionally made of water buffalo hide, and most recently has been made of calfskin.
Unlike Olympic wrestling, oil wrestling matches may be won by achieving an effective hold of the kisbet. Thus, the pehlivan aims to control his opponent by putting his arm through the latter's kisbet. To win by this move is called paça kazık. Originally, matches had no set duration and could go on for one or two days until one man was able to establish his superiority, but in 1975 the duration was capped at 40 minutes for the baspehlivan[clarification needed] and 30 minutes for the pehlivan category. If there is no winner, play continues for another 15 minutes—10 minutes for the pehlivan category, wherein scores are kept to determine the victor.
The annual Kırkpınar tournament, held in Edirne in Turkish Thrace since 1362, is the oldest continuously running, sanctioned sporting competition in the world. Oil wrestling festivals also take place in northern Greece in the Eastern Macedonia (Serres region) and West Thrace (Rhodope Mountains). In recent years, this style of wrestling has also become popular in other countries, particularly the Netherlands and Japan.
Turkish wrestlers started covering themselves according to Islamic law (between the navel and the knees) after the 10th century. After the Oghuz branch of Turks migrated to Western Asia and Anatolia, they brought their Central Asian Kurash wrestling style with them. After the conquest of Anatolia by Seljuk Turks, they introduced the traditional freestyle wrestling called karakucak (literally "black hug") and the special leather clothing and initiated using olive oil to make it harder to grip one's opponent, from the ancient Western Asian wrestling; and created what is today known as Yağlı Güreş or Turkish oil wrestling. In the Ottoman Empire, wrestlers learned the art in special schools called tekke (تکیه), which were not merely athletic centres, but also spiritual centres
Wrestlers oil one another prior to matches as a demonstration of balance and mutual respect. If a man defeats an older opponent, he kisses the latter's hand (a sign of respect for elders in Turkey).
Matches are held all over Turkey throughout the year, but in early summer, around 1000 competitors gather in Kırkpınar for an annual three-day wrestling tournament to determine who will be the baspehlivan ("chief wrestler") of Turkey. Ottoman chroniclers and writers[who?] attest that the Kırkpınar Games have been held every year since 1362, making them the world's oldest continually sanctioned sporting competition.[dubious ] The games have been cancelled only about 70 times. The original site was some 35 kilometres (22 mi) distant. In 1924, they were moved to the present location after the Balkan War.
There are some organized oil wrestling competitions outside Turkey, particularly by the Royal Dutch Power Sport Federation (KNKF Koninklijke Nederlandse Krachtsport en Fitnessfederatie) in the Netherlands.
Notable pehlivans 
Notable aghas 
- Süleyman Şahin (1967–68)
- Gazanfer Bilge (1969–70)
- Alper Yazoğlu (1991–93) *
- Hüseyin Şahin (1995–98) *
- James Olais (2000–08)
- Seyfettin Selim (2009–13) *
Popular culture 
- In the television show Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre World, host Andrew Zimmern experienced Yağlı güreş firsthand.
- In Super Street Fighter IV, the character Hakan uses an exaggerated form of Yağlı güreş as his fighting style, using his oil as a way to increase the range and power of his attacks. This is notably the first time the fighting style has been depicted in a video game.
- In the 1964 movie Topkapi, thieves try to steal a jewel-encrusted dagger from the Topkapi museum. In an attempt to direct the attention of suspicious local officials, some of them attend a large oil wrestling competition. Scenes flip back and forth between what is happening at the Topkapi and what is happening at the match — scenes of the wrestling competition are seen from start to finish, starting with an army of competitors marching to the wrestling arena and ending with the final two wrestlers.
See also 
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (July 2008)|
- 28-Ιουλ-2005 Άρθρο στην Εφημερίδα ο Χρόνος: Στα «Χίλια» Δερίου το πρώτο επίσημο πρωτάθλημα πάλης με λάδι.
- 7-Αυγ-2007 Άρθρο στην εφημερίδα Ο Χρόνος: Υποτονική η προσέλευση του κόσμου στα 'Χίλια' - Πανηγύρι πάλης και ελεύθερης διακίνησης ιδεών".
- "Λαϊκός Πολιτισμός Νομού Σερρών.". Ιστοσελίδα Νομαρχιακής Αυτοδιοίκησης Σερρών. Retrieved 2011-09-12.
- 09.09.2011: Πάλη με λάδι στο οροπέδιο του Αλάν Τεπέ
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Oil Wrestling in Turkey|
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