All about oilwrestling is the name of the book by Murat Kirbaçoglu
and Mohamed el-Fers. It leads you through the ins and outs, do's
and donts of the Olders Sport on Earth, held annually in the summer
near Edirne, Turkey (formerly known as Adrianople).
Kirkpinar is the name of this Turkish yagli
güres, with a history that links
straight back to 2650 B.C.
Although not a photobook on pocketsize, it
has loads of superb pictures of the Pelivan at that amazing wrestling
tournament. All in black and white, most great grabs or from what
is known as the 'Pirelli Calendar for the Lady' by oilpainting artist
But one small picture made my day: The oldest
piece of evidence of oilwrestling from Assyria. Now published for
the first time since 1927.
This a tiny bronze, pictured real-size,
was excavated near the Chafadji-temple. To leave no doubt that the
bronze concernes oilwrestlers: both athletes are sculped with huge
oilvessels on their head.
In the Persian Mythical Era (according Ferdowsi's
Shahnameh started in 1065 B.C.), the legendary pehlivan-wrestler
of this era is called Rostam. A real hero, constantly saving his
country by dominating evil forces.
The ceremonial start of oilwrestling, called
by its Persian name "Peshrev" has clear links with old
Iranian istitutes as the zurkhane, literally "house of strength".
Here the origin of the peshrev has to be found, by some considered
to be a warming up and greet-the-audience ceremony, to others a
participatory form of dance. Certain different from the usual step-right,
step-left, step-right, kick-left, step-left, kick-right dance found
all over the area.
During the period Islam was brought into
Asia Minor, spirituality and philosophy became part of the physical
garment of the pehlivan. Oilwrestling was established as a sport
on it´s own. In Iran and the Ottoman Empire alike wrestling
became the national sport. In Iran wrestling grew to the customary
institution of the zurkhane strong house, where people go to socialise
and engage in athletic exercise. The wrestler is the strong-man
in popular culture (in Persian the term is "big neck"),
but he is also the pahlavan, the knightly hero who is a free-living
spirit and is generous and loyal.
The year 1360 is adapted by the organizers
of the Edirne Kirkpinar as date Ottoman soldiers started to organize
annual oilwrestling tournaments in Kirkpinar, a wrestlingfield "within
Samona village". According to the Guinness Book of World Records
this legend made the Kirkpinar world's oldest continuously sanctioned
The last bout between the two finalists lasted
all night as neither was able to defeat the other. They were found
dead the next morning, their bodies still intertwined. They were
buried underneath a nearby fig tree, whereupon their comrades headed
to conquere Edirne.
After the conquest, the soldiers came upon
another fig tree, surrounded by a crystal-clear spring, so they
renamed the surrounding meadow (which until then had been known
as Ahirköy) Kirkpinar, which translates from Turkish as "forty
springs" or "forty sources."
To commemorate the heroism of the conquering
warriors, a wrestling tournament was re-enacted annually at this
site, and the oldest still-contested sanctioned sporting competition
in the world began.
Whatever tales, myths and stories. There
has always been a common respect for the oilwrestlers. The pehlivan's
being stronger than anybody, having a well built body, clothed in
heavy leather pants.
Up till today the wrestlers pour olive oil
onto their bodies. And still you see a younger wrestler defeating
an older wrestler kiss the older wrestler's hand.
Oilwrestling hits Europe in Amsterdam
During the 636th annual Kirkpinar of Edirne,
Agha (mc) Hüseyin Sahin agreed with Veyis Güngör
(chairman of Türkevi Amsterdam) and Mohamed el-Fers (MokumTV
Amsterdam) that they would unite their fordes to promote historical
oilwrestling in Europe and the world. Three days El-Fers filmed
almost every match. On the September 4th 1996 MokumTV started a
weekly program on the A1 Amsterdam channel. It proved to be the
start of fast growing respect in Europe for this unique and highly
esthetic ´mother of all sports´.
The late Hüseyin Sahin said during his
speech, attended by Turkish president Süleyman Demirel, Edirne-mayor
Hamdi Sedefçi, Veyis Güngör and Mohamed el-Fers
that the KIRKPINAR will exceeds the borders of Turkey and unite
The champion wrestlers who attended that
636th Edirne Kirkpinar applauded the news of an Amsterdam Kirkpinar.
In his speech at the award ceremony President Süleyman Demirel
said that Turkey would continue to raise world-famous wrestlers.
Mr. Veyis Güngör told the press that day that the enthusiast
reactions in Europe proved that this traditional Turkish sport is
not only everlasting, but thanks to television and video, is gaining
popularity under non-Turkish people as well. The organizers of the
coming Amsterdam Kirkpinar received the days after the news was
released about 950 letters of oilwrestlers throughout Turkey who
would enter competition for the title of euro-champion of the Amsterdam
The Mother of All Sports came in 1997 for
the first ever to western Europe when the European Championleague
were held in Amsterdam. No less than 22 television teams covered
the event, and scenes from the Amsterdam Kirkpinar were shown at
CNN and the BBC alike. The 2nd European Oil Wrestling Championship
held in Amsterdam had already a final with 42 wrestlers from Turkey,
the Netherlands and other European countries. Winner was Cengiz
Elbeye, Edirne Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Champion. Addressing the
ceremony held upon the start of the matches, Erkut Onart, the Turkish
Consul General in the Netherlands, said that he believed the friendship
between the Turkish society and the European countries is intensified
when these kinds of cultural values are brought to Europe. In the
world of oilwrestling Amsterdam became the most important annual
All about Turkish Oilwrestling