Turkish Oil Wrestling
Championships Half naked men grappling in the Turkish sun,
the light glistening from their oil-coated bodies. While western
wrestling conjures up images of balding overweight men with
beer bellies ... It seems that Turkish oil wrestling is
just the opposite. Husky naked overweight XXX rated toughmen
oiled up in bars around USA. M4M oily wrestling with other
tuff guys in our slippery oil pit. Turkish Wrestling For Warrior
Men. Nightclub Hosts greasy wrassling event. Sexy muscular
college hunks oiled up and wrestling in Key West and Atlanta events.
OIL WRESTLING HISTORY FROM
CHECK THEM OUT!
Anyone who�d ever seen oilwrestlers recognize immediately the
characteristic position of the men in the 4650 year old Babelonic
bronze, found in the Chafadji Temple. It is the oldest known
evidence of oil-coated wrestling, that unique and highly esthetic
�mother of all powersports�.
(Photo: Elko Westervaarder)
4650 AMSTERDAM KIRKPINAR
... to say 640th Kirkpinar of Edirne must be a joke. The Kirkpinar
was held the FIRST time in Edirne in 1924, and before that in
Kapitan Andeervo, former Viran-Teke in Bulgaria.
So year 2001 A.D. would have been the 77th Kirkpinar of Edirne and
not the 640 year after a date invented years or maybe centuries
I know, it is just a little difference of only 564 years in recent
time. All historians agree that it is not more than tale that 40
warriors in the Ottoman army invented oilwrestling, as there is a
Babelonic bronze that clearly proves that oilwrestling or Yagli
G�res is at least 4650 year old.
I think it is an insult to any historian to reduce this existence to
640 years just to make it fit in the history of the Turkish
occupation of Thrace.
If Edirne dares to call their competition number 640, why not number
next years match in the Netherlands the 6651 Amsterdam Kirkpinar?
With kindly regards,
Letter from historian Miller on 4 July 2001 to the Edirne
The furthest achievement in wrestling is oil wrestling. None of the
World- or Olympic Champions were able to win in Oilwrestling, but
many wrestlers who have started in oil wrestling have gone on to
achieve World and Olympic success.
VISIT ALSO THE DIGITAL MUSEUM OF OILWRESTLING
Oldest known evidence
2650 B.C. in Egypt and Assyria
The history of oil wrestling links straight back to 2650 B.C. with
evidence both from Egypt and Assyria and about the same era. The
Babelonic body of evidence, a tiny bronze, excavated near the
Chafadji-temple. It is as clear as plain day-light that the bronze
concern oilwrestlers: both athletes are pictured with oilvessels on
Read more about the Chafadji-bronze.
The oldest known proof of the existence of oilwrestling in Egypt is
in limestone from the tomb of Ptahhoteb near Sakkara from the 5th
dynasty (about 2650 BC) from the same period as the Chafadji-bronze.
Another appealing proof is about 4000 years old and painted like a
cartoon in a tomb near Beni Hasan in Egypt. The deceased who
occupied this tomb must have been a famous oilwrestler in his time!
On the first picture we see the greasing of the wrestler, the oil
stored in a reed stem. After that, the wrestling started. The
pictures could have been taken yesterday during a Kirkpinar! The
last picture down shows the unchanged �three step triumph� of oiled
From this period we can trace the basic rules.
Centuries later the Iranians conquest Egypt and Persian shah-kings
occupied the throne of the Pharao�s.
1065-283 B.C. Oilwrestling in Iran
The history of the oilwrestling tournaments as we know today links
back to the Persian Mythical Era which according to Ferdowsi's
Shahnameh started 1065 B.C. The legendary pehlivan of this era is
called Rostam, a hero constantly saving his country from the evil
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". The building consists of a
court, around which the men who will perform arrange themselves, and
a gallery for the ostad ("master") or morshed (spiritual leader) and
the musicians. Nowadays, the musical accompaniment consists of a
drum and recitation of portions of Ferdowsi's Shahname. There are
various rhythms employed, and a variety of movements associated with
them, including displays of strength in manipulating heavy objects
(such as weights and chains) and acrobatics.
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.
238 B.C.-1346 A.D. Greco-Roman Oilwrestling
The word ��Pehlivan�� for a wrestler was first used in the period
when the Parthian (238 BC - 224 AD) expelled the Greeks from Iran.
378 A.D. Huns defeat Romans near Edirne
The Huns arriving on the fringes of the Roman Empire in the late
fourth century, riding their horses out of the great steppes of Asia
into Germany and France. As they approached the Black Sea and
conquered the Ostrogoths, they also drove the Visigoths across the
Danube into the Roman Empire and caused the crisis that led to the
astounding defeat of the Roman army under the Emperor Valens near
Adrianople (Edirne) in 378 AD.
The Huns were fanatic wrestlers as well as horsemen. After securing
a strong position on the Roman side of the Danube the Huns were
checked by the Roman army of general Aspar in Thrace (442).
In 447 Pehlivan Attila came again into Thrace and stopped only when
Emperor Thodosius II, begged for terms. During the negotiations a
Roman-Hun wrestling competition was held in Thermopylae. The dispute
was actually settled by a wresting match and winner Attila accepted
payment of all tribute in arrears and a new annual tribute of 2,100
pounds of gold and territory south of the Danube.
Three years later Emperor Theodosius fell from his horse and died.
His successor, Marcian (450-457), refused to pay Attila. The Hun
decided to leave it, as the sister of the Roman Emperor Valentinian,
the lovely Honoria, sended her ring and a message to the King of the
Huns and asked Attila to become her champion. Atilla agreed with
this marriage proposal. As the sister of the Roman Emperor was put
in prison, Atilla decided to take care of her dowry.
So he crossed the Rhine, took Metz, sacked Rheims, Mainz,
Strasbourg, Cologne, Worms, Trier and put Orleans under siege. When
Attila invaded Italy, Pope Leo I speeded to Northern Italy to meet
the Great Pehlivan and pay him off to spare Rome and abandon Papal
As Honoria was not aviable, next year Attila took a new, young,
beautiful bride named Ildico. The wedding day was spent with one of
the greatest wrestlingmatch of this time. The party went on when the
King of the Huns took his new bride to bed that night. That night he
died - drowned in his own nosebleed. The empire of the Huns
dissipated nearly as quickly as its most famous leader. In 454 the
Ostrogoths and other Germanic tribes revolted and the sons of
Attila, who had quarreled among themselves, could not deal with the
crisis. In the words of Bury, the Huns were "scattered to the
1346 Oilwrestling for Sultan and Shah
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.
In Turkey according to a popular tale the foundation of the
Kirkpinar is attached to the eldest son of Ottoman sultan Orhan.
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 sporting
Click here to read about the historic site of the first KIRKPINAR
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.
According to historian Burhan-katia, the word pehlivan was also used
for an officer, governor or huge and honest person. From the 16th
century on the term was exclusively used in the Ottoman Empire for
the wrestling sportsman.
It was the time of S�leyman, known throughout the known world as
'The Magnificent', even among such big-name-players as Charles V
(Holy Roman Emperor -- ruling Spain, Germany and parts of Italy),
Henry VIII (the Tudor king of England), and Francis I (Valois king
S�leyman, in his own land known as "kanuni", the Legislator, reigned
between 1520 and 1566 and was succeeded by his son Selim II, for
whom Sinan build the Selimiye in Edirne, considered to be Turkey�s
most beautiful mosque.
But above all it was the era of Murat III (1546-1595). Under him the
Ottoman Empire reached its largest geographical area in history.
In 1590 a peace agreement was reached between Murat III and the
Persian Shah. The model of the wrestlingpants go back to this
period, . The model is still same for the Iranian "pahlivan" and the
Turkish "pehlivan", exept that the Turkish wrestlingpants are made
of leather and are called "kispet", while the Iranian Pahlivan wears
a "pirpet", made of silk.
Famous wrestlers from Iran came to Istanbul to compete with the
Ottoman Champions, and the Turkish champs were invited to Persia to
show their strenght.*
Click here to read more about the Zurkhane.
Collecting strong men
Before 1582, all recruits came from prisoners of war, the devsirme,
or other slave sources. With that devsirme, the very best and
strongest guys were recruited from all the provinces of the Ottoman
Only the strongest and most healtiest boys had a chance to become a
Pehlivan. Always known to be free enought to be honest and through
history trusted for his words and behaviours.
The influence of Iranians on the sport must have been huge, as in
Turkey the traditional start of an oilwrestlingbout was and is still
called "peshrev" in the Farsi language. And whatever language
reforms, in Turkey a wrestler is still called "pehlivan", Persian
Everywhere in the Ottoman Empire were wrestling championships held.
Every city and village had its annual wrestling, like nowadays.
Wrestling occured in a variety of contexts, including social and
ceremonial events. There was wrestling on religious festival days,
during special evenings of the Moslem fasting-month of Ramadan, on
agricultural events, circumcisions and weddings. On special
occasions charity wrestling competitions were organized outside the
palaces. Only the best wrestlers were accepted in training to become
members of the elite Janissary Corps.
1867 oilwrestling for French Imp�ratrice Eugenie
When the Ottoman Sultan visited France in 1867, oilwrestlers were
part of his entourage and Imp�ratrice Eugenie visited the
wrestling-tournament. Wrestling was tough, but oilwrestling was even
harder. It was considered the most difficult sport in the world. In
these days the expression �Fort comme une Turc� (Strong as a Turk)
revived from the crusade-days.
After Balkan war of 1912 the place of the original Kirkpinar of
Oiled wrestling was left. The annual match had to be relocated from
Kirkpinar (near Samona) to Virantekke, now the Kapitan Andreevo
checkpoint on the Bulgarian border.
After 12 years the annual oilwrestling competition of the Kirkpinar
moved again to another place. Since 1924 bouts are held on the
Sarayi�i island near Edirne.
The last Ottoman Sultan went in exile to Malta. In what was left
over of that great empire almost everything traditional had to be
replaced or westernized. The language was "purified" by replacing
words of Persian or Arabic origin for mostly French. Even a sport
prevailing any western sport was at stake. .
Atat�rk thought to put the wrestling organizations directly under
his own sponsorship. He ordered Selim Sirri Tarcan (1874-1956) to
restyle oilwrestling according his guidelines according sport in the
new Turkish Republic.
So the winner of the Edirne was no longer "Bashpehlivan of the
Kirkpinar" but "Champion of Turkey".
And instead of all those traditional prizes as that Altin Kemer
(Golden Belt) and all those horses, donkeys and camels the winners
should have a nice, modern medal. Just as they do in the rest of the
It was rumoured no Pehlivan would show up when instead of gold and
live-stock only a title and medal would be given "because they do so
The former officer responsible for sport in the new Republic had to
back down and allowed the winning wrestler in the highest category
also a "Baspehlivan of the Year" award, to be a horse, camel, sheep,
duck, whatever the organizers could obtain..
Selim Sirri Tarcan also put restraint on the Golden Belt: Only for
the Edirne Kirkpinar and solely if a "Turkish Champion" was winner
for three consecutive years he should become the owner of such a
valueable object. The weight of the Altin Kemer was limited to a
topmost of 1.450 gram 14 carat gold. .
The Kirkpinar wrestling competitions of Edirne were still held under
the protectorate of the agha. The Agha welcomes his guests and puts
them up at the hotel, has dinners, and organizes festivities. Also,
he hands out the prizes to the winners in their categories. Just
before the final of the Kirkpinar, the organizing agha holds an
auction. The bids are placed on a ram or sheep. The highest bidder
becomes the �agha� of the next year's Kirkpinar and is the number
2002 Europe-agha Mr. S�leyman Erdem of the Amsterdam Kirkpinar.
But in the western orientated Turkish republic of Mustafa Kemal
Atat�rk it was hard to find an agha who would met the prizes and
hosting of guests.
When in 1928 an economical depressions hit Turkey and no agha could
be found, Selim Sirri Tarcan made the Turkish Red Cross (Kizilay)
and the �ocuk Esirgeme Kurumu (Institute of Child Care) responsible
for the organization and hosting of the guests.
In the old days an agha was able to stop a match, disqualify
wrestlers if necessary, and even to cancel the wrestling events all
together. Nowadays it is the organizing committee who make such
Red Cross and Child Care would organize the Edirne Kirkpinar for 36
years. Then the organization was made a municipality services.
1931 letter by Atat�rk
The legendary oilwrestler Kurtdereli Mehmet, an oilwrestler from the
village of Kurtdere, was famous all over the world. Mehmet said in
an interview in 1931 that he pictured the Turkish nation supporting
him in every match. He pleased president Mustafa Kemal Atat�rk very
much with his words.
� Photo: Cem Shirazi
Ataturk sent him this letter:
To the wrestler Mehmet of Kurtdere.
I have come to know you as a wrestler of world renown. I have also
learned that you described the secret behind your success in the
following words: �In every wrestling match, I picture the Turkish
nation supporting me, and I think of our national honour.�
I admire what you say as much as your deeds. Therefore, I am
recording your statement to be a professional maxim for all Turkish
sportsmen to demonstrate how pleased I am with your statement.
Enclosed is a small gift for you and your children.
I wish you a long, healthy life.
Kemal Ataturk .
1964 Edirne Kirkpinar municipality services
In 1964 the mayor of Edirne, Tahsin Sipka, signed an act that the
Edirne Municipality was responsible for the organization of the
Edirne Kirkpinar. That same year mayor Sipka made the Edirne
Kirkpinar a municipality services.
During a year about 300 different oilwrestling games are held in
Turkey. They host 10 million spectators on average.
1975 introduction of time
Until 1975, there was no time limit to wrestling in Kirkpinar. The
pehlivans would wrestle sometimes one, sometimes two days, until
they could establish superiority to one another. Wrestling games
would go on from 9am in the morning until dusk and the ones that
could not beat each other would go on the next day. After 1975,
wrestling was limited to 40 minutes in baspehlivan category. If
there is no winner within these limits, the pehlivans wrestle for 15
minutes with scored recorded. The ones that can score points in this
last part are accepted as the winners. In other categories, the
wrestling time is limited to 30 minutes. If there is no winner, 10
minutes of score wrestling follows.
On 20 June 1996 the Turkish Traditional Sport Branches Federation
(Geleneksel Spor Dallari Federasyonu) was accepted by the Turkish
Riding, oily wrestling, aba wrestling and other traditional sports
were assembled in the same federation under Alper Yazoglu.
1997 Oilwrestling hits Europe in Amsterdam
During the 636th annual KIRKPINAR of Edirne, Agha (mc) H�seyin Sahin
agreed with Veyis G�ng�r (chairman of T�rkevi 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
Amsterdam channel. It proved to be the start of fast growing respect
in Europe for this unique and highly esthetic �mother of all
The late H�seyin Sahin said during his speech, attended by Turkish
president S�leyman Demirel, Edirne-mayor Hamdi Sedef�i, Veyis G�ng�r
and Mohamed el-Fers that the KIRKPINAR will exceeds the borders of
Turkey and unite the world.
The champion wrestlers who attended that 636th Edirne KIRKPINAR
applauded the news of an AMSTERDAM KIRKPINAR.
In his speech at the award ceremony President S�leyman Demirel said
that Turkey would continue to raise world-famous wrestlers.
Mr. Veyis G�ng�r 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
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 is now the most important
annual KIRKPINAR after Edirne.
Oilwrestling accepted as special branche by the Turkish Olympic
Wrestling Federation. Sport and Politics, as in 1996 the Turkish
Traditional Sport Branches Federation (Geleneksel Spor Dallari
Federasyonu) was official accepted as federation representing
oilwrestling and other traditional Turkish sports.
1999 Doping control
In 1999 doping control was introduced for the first time introduced
by the Turkish Olympic Wrestling Federation during the Edirne
2000 Foreighn oilwrestler rejected in Edirne
Oilwrestling is a growing sport, not limited to Turkey only. Sad
enough it is difficult for foreign wrestlers to enter this National
Turkish Championship. In 2000 Dutch oilwrestler Melvin Witteveens
entry in Edirne was rejected, while Kadir Yilmaz, beaten by
Witteveen some weeks earlier at the Amsterdam Kirkpinar, was allowed
to participate due to his double Turko/Dutch nationalities.
As the winners of the categories of the Amsterdam KIRKPINAR in
Holland are considered to be European Champions, this creates the
strange fact that according international standards the Amsterdam
Kirkpinar tops Edirne, as latter being the National championship of
Turkey only, repudiating non-Turkish entries.
2001 Edirne Worldchampionship?
The organization of the Amsterdam Kirkpinar asked Mehmet Ayhan, the
president of the Turkish Oilwrestling Federation to make the Edirne
Kirkpinar official Worldchampionship, so non-Turkish winners of the
Amsterdam Kirkpinar are allowed to enter.
LINKS POSTED IN OUR
SECTION BY VISITORS THIS MONTH
BattleGround Martial Arts Supply Co. Large Martial Arts Site.
Cultural Exchange Through Japanese Budo
Body Work For Men Focuses on the needs and interests of male
bodyworkers, masseurs and their male clients. An international Links
site focused on the exploration of all forms of bodywork for men
Brute Wrestling Gear Sales
Wrestling and sports photo gallery. Used Wrestling gear for sale.
Continental Sports Continental Sports Limited - UK Based Company
selling Gymnastic Gear and Wrestling / Martial Art Mats
Cliff Keen Athletic Sales - Wrestling Briefs and Tights etc.
Fightsite Fightsite movies concentrate on unrehearsed fighting
sports. The fighters are tough, handsome, muscular guys of all types
and shades. Lots of amateur and submission wrestling, plus one
semi-pro movie. Also boxing, and a bit of Vale Tudo. New types of
fighting will be introduced shortly!
New Link April 2004
Forty Springs Kirkpinar Turkish Oil wrestling site. Video tapes
sales of this traditional, live outdoor wrestling event. Very good
quality tapes available in PAL, SECAM and NTSC TV formats. Pictures
and info about Kirkpinar.
Gay Cycling. European based site.
Grappler Construction Grappler Construction - Bob Burmeister�s page
of wrestling and other links.
Gladiators Roman Gladiator Pictures, movie list & Stories
IWA International Wrestling Australia. Wrestling School, Gallery,
Kirkpinar Amsterdam Turkish Oil Wrestling in Amsterdam.
Lawrence Grecco Lawrence Grecco Photography. Kirkpinar Turkish Oil
Wrestling site. Photos and information.
Muscles In Motion
Bodybuilding Videos. New Sept 2004
Power Books Publisher Of Wrestling for Gay Guys. This unique book is
about being Gay and interested in Wrestling or Martial Arts.
Wrestling for Gay Guys has advice about both the physical and mental
aspects of wrestling. It looks into the authors experiences and his
involvement in the UK scene. The book also contains some great
illustrations by Matt.
PWP PWP Wrestling is a new underground pro wrestling site. PWP
features young, well-built athletes who are learning the ropes. Give
us a look. You won't regret it!
Repetrope Male and Female bodybuilding videos. Credit Card sales.
Specialises in the production and sales of bodybuilding and exercise
videotapes. Officially contracted by the National Physique Committee
(NPC) to provide complete and comprehensive video coverage of all
nation-level bodybuilding and fitness competitions. Very good Site.
Rickson Gracie Rickson Gracie's Jiu-Jitsu Site. Merchandise and
Videos For Sale.
Rodco Sports Wrestling Singlets Sales.
Trip Abdos French language Abdominal (Gut) punching. Photoa and
videos. Organised meetings, session pictures. Cool.
U S A Sombo United States Sombo Association. Information for Sombo
wrestlegrear.com USA based wrestling supplies shop. Shoes Gear
Uniforms Trophies Links
Official City of Edirne Kirkpinar site: History of the tournament,
definition of terms.
Kirkpinar wrestling site: Variety of galleries and information for
Asahi, a Japanese photographer�s site with Turkish wrestling
Bibolett, a French photographer with a Turkish wrestling gallery.
Larry Grecco, an American photographer with b&w Kirkpinar photos.
Amsterdam tournament site: Since June 1999 a one-day mini-Kirkpinar
has been held in the Netherlands. Photos, history, etc.
Calendar of wrestling events in Britain and Europe, including
Tom Fortunato�s amateur wrestling site, including Turk wrestling
Matt Furey�s Combat Wrestling, a celebrated U.S. competitor and
Veteran French pro-wrestler�s site, with galleries of classic Turk
Turkish Wrestling Yahoo Groups
Turkish Oil Wrestling:
Gures (in Turkish) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gures/
Turkish Female Wrestling:
III. Other Video Sites Featuring Submission-Type Wrestling
French wrsetling videos: Muscled French grapplers in hard-fought
Matches on mats. www.w-and-l.com
Underground Independent Wrestling: young men wrestle, variety of
styles and locations.
Junior Pro Wrestling: young guys wrestle individual matches, mostly
No Holds Barred Productions: Large selection of videos, mostly young
to submission in basement or ring matches. www.nhb-battle.com
Let�s Wrestle: Young amateurs wrestling to submission in home-made
Danube Women Wrestlers: Beautiful, built females wrestle or box, in
From serious competition to erotic nude battles. www.dwwgalaxy.com