Cengizhan Şimşek triumphs in Kırkpınar oil wrestling

Cengizhan Şimşek triumphs in Kırkpınar oil wrestling

EDİRNE – Demirören News Agency
Cengizhan Şimşek triumphs in Kırkpınar oil wrestling

Cengizhan Şimşek won the title of “başpehlivan” (chief wrestler) and the coveted golden belt at the ancient 661st oil wrestling festival held in Türkiye’s northwestern province of Edirne on July 3.

The epic battle between two strong wrestlers, Şimşek and Mustafa Taş, was not concluded in normal time, with both of them preferring a passive style.

However, in the extra time, Şimşek managed to win the match.

In the festival, which witnessed great surprises, heavy favorites such as Ali Gürbüz, Orhan Okulu, İsmail Koç, Mehmet Yeşil Yeşil, Recep Kara and Fatih Atlı were eliminated before the semi-finals.

Two-time chief wrestler Ali Gürbüz competed to become the eternal owner of the golden belt, as a wrestler has to win the chief wrestler title for three successive years in order to win the golden belt forever, according to Kırkpınar rules.

In the second round, former chief wrestler Yeşil defeated defending title holder Gürbüz.

Former chief wrestler Şaban Yılmaz, who wrestled with Tanju Gemici in the second round, was given a yellow and then a red card by the referee committee.

After being eliminated by the referee’s decision, Yılmaz stormed into the referee’s room. Police officers calmed down Yılmaz with difficulty.

After surprises in the second round, such as the elimination of Gürbüz and Koç, the finalist of the last two years, Yeşil lost to Ertuğrul Dağdeviren in the third round, while Okulu lost to Şimşek.

İsmail Balaban, who defeated Yusuf Can Zeybek in the second round and defeated Atlı in the third round, reached the semi-finals.

While İsmail Balaban was the only gold belt holder who made it to the semi-finals, he lost to Şimşek, the champion, and could not reach the final.

The historical organization, which could not be held in 2020 due to the pandemic and was held with a one-third audience last year, kicked off on July 1 and concluded with the final wrestling that determined the chief wrestler on July 3.

Wrestling fans and domestic and international visitors flocked to the province to see wrestlers competing at a field in Sarayiçi, one of Edirne’s most crucial recreational sites.

In traditional oil wrestling, wrestlers wear leather pants, rub olive oil on their bodies and tackle each other on grass fields to be the last man standing to earn the title of chief wrestler and the right to wear the prestigious golden belt for a year.

Tracing its roots back to the 14th century, the Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival, which is a three-day event, was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010 on behalf of Türkiye.

The festival is believed to be one of the oldest sports in the world, having been practiced since the middle ages in the Balkans.