The Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival.


Dating back to the year 1357, the Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival is the oldest wrestling event in the world, attracting oiled up wrestlers from all over Turkey, and beyond.

Oil wrestling is one of Turkey’s most popular sports, and regarded by many as the manliest sport on Earth, so it’s no wonder over 1,500 oiled up Turks gather, every year, on a green field near Edirne, for a seven day event that decides the best oil wrestler in the land.

When they weren’t marching for Rumelia, at the middle of the 14th century, the Ottomans of Anatolia liked to keep themselves in shape by wrestling each other and proving their strength and skill. According to an old Turkish legend, the Kirkpinar Oil Festival began during an Ottoman campaign against Thrace. Sultan Suleyman Pasha and 40 of his warriors were raiding forts along what is now the Turkish-Greek- Bulgarian border. One day two of his warriors started wrestling each other, and the sultan promised the winner a “kispet” (pair of leather pants). They fought morning to midnight, without a winner emerging, and both wrestlers eventually died from exhaustion. They were buried under a fig tree that soon sprouted fresh water springs, and the field on which the wrestled was named Kirkpinar (Forty Springs).