Turkish oil wrestler dies after falling at construction site
Efkan Bucak - ISTANBUL
A famous oil wrestler has died after falling into an elevator shaft at a construction site in Istanbul.
Mahsuni Sevimli, a 45-year-old who was also a building contractor and construction expert, accidentally stepped into the shaft whose elevator was not placed yet and fell 13 meters before hitting ground late Dec. 31.
Sevimli, who succumbed to his injuries in hospital, was buried after a funeral in Istanbul’s Gazianosmanpaşa neighborhood on Jan. 1.
After recording several successes in oil wrestling’s “small” and “mid-small” categories, Sevimli had also financed and trained younger generations for the traditional sport.
Turkey’s longest-running traditional sports event is the Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling competition. Held annually in Edirne since 1346, the competition is called “oil wrestling” because wrestlers pour locally produced olive oil over their entire bodies and matches take place outside in an open, grassy field, with no clothes on except for oily trousers made of leather.
The competition itself as well as the wrestlers, which are called “pehlivan” in Turkish, only exist in the Anatolian culture.
Orhan Okulu had won the grand title of “Başpehlivan” (Chief Wrestler) at the 657th Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling competition in 2018.