The 654th edition of the Kirkpinar oil wrestling festival in Edirne, Turkey, concluded yesterday with Orhan Okulu from Antalya winning the coveted gold belt and title of Başpehlivan (head wrestler).
During the week-long competition, the pehlivans (wrestlers), covered in olive oil and wearing kispet, long shorts made of buffalo hide, compete on a grassy field. The wrestlers are covered in olive oil, making this unique type of wrestling particularly challenging.
At the final match held on Edirne’s Sarayiçi Square yesterday, Okulu overpowered his opponent, Osman Aynur, who was the winner of the 2006 competition. Supervising the match were chief referee Hüsnü Patron and assisting referees Metin Şener and Bilal Şahin.
During the final match, extra time was called after it ended in a tie. It was in the 53rd minute that Okulu won the “golden point” and beat his opponent, becoming Başpehlivan for 2015.
In attendance at the final of this important sporting event were the mayor of Edirne, Recep Gürkan, the minister of health, Mehmet Müezzinoğlu, the minister of youth and sports, Akif Çağatay Kılıç, and the president of the Turkish wrestling association, Musa Aydın.
The Kirkpinar oil wrestling festival has been held in Edirne, a city in northern Turkey close to the Bulgarian and Greek borders, for the past 650 years and is believed to be the oldest sporting event in the world. It was inscribed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010. Every year, over 1,000 wrestlers compete in Edirne for the golden belt.