Ali Gürbüz triumph in Kırkpınar oil wrestling

Ali Gürbüz triumph in Kırkpınar oil wrestling

EDİRNE-Anadolu Agency
Ali Gürbüz triumph in Kırkpınar oil wrestling

Ali Gürbüz on June 7 won the coveted golden belt at the ancient 658th oil wrestling festival held in Turkey's northwestern Edirne province.

The epic battle between two strong wrestlers, Gürbüz and defending title holder Orhan Okulu was not concluded in normal time, with both of them preferring a passive style.

However, in the extra time, Gürbüz managed to win the match when Okulu lost his balance following an aggressive play, seizing the opportunity at the 50th minute of the epic match.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu separately congratulated Gürbüz.

The Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival started on July 5, it is one of the world's s oldest sports events -- ranking second after the Olympics -- and has been held annually in the province since 1362.

In traditional oil wrestling, viewed as “ancestor sports” by Turks, wrestlers engage in a physical and mental struggle without the use of any equipment; the matches may last up to five hours.

Oil wrestlers wear leather pants, rub olive oil on their bodies and tackle each other on grass fields to be the last man standing, which will earn them the title of Chief Wrestler (Başpehlivan) and the right to wear the prestigious golden belt for a year.

Hotelkeepers and shop owners in northwestern Turkey are having a field day as thousands of fans have flocked there to see the 658th Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival.

Held annually in the Edirne province since 1362, the weeklong festival -- one of the world's oldest sports events -- has recently emerged as a major tourist attraction in Turkey. Located close to the country's borders with Bulgaria and Greece, Edirne was once the capital of the Ottoman Empire.

Edirne province, one of Turkey's top five regional tourist attractions, is also known as the "Sultan of Cities." It was once the capital of the Ottoman Empire, before the conquest of Istanbul in 1453.

Today, this historically rich province draws tourists from all over thanks to its culture, cuisine, faith, and natural treasures.

In 2018, about 3.5 million domestic and international tourists visited the province. The demand peaks during the oil wrestling festival, which honors Turkey's ancient tradition of sports.