Turkish wrestling yagli guresh (yağlı güreş) is an exciting traditional olive oil competition of male wrestlers who come from all over the country. These types of wrestling are still practiced by other Turkic-speaking peoples, such as Tuvan khuresh, Uzbek kurash, and Tatar kuresh. A Turkish freestyle wrestling tournament is held annually. Warriors go to the duel only in leather pants (kyspet), which are hand-sewn from natural buffalo leather and weigh almost 13 kg!
Oil wrestling is considered the oldest sporting event after the Olympic Games, which has become part of the country's traditions.
There is a legend saying that once 40 Turkic warriors, who were part of the vanguard of the army, made a halt in the Edirne region. To make time go faster, they decided to arrange a competition among themselves. The brothers Ali and Selim fought for a very long time, but their strength was equal. And both fell down from exhaustion. The remaining soldiers buried them near the village of Akhykey. When the army went back, they saw that on the site of the graves of the brothers were hit the keys. Since then, the place where freestyle wrestling competitions are held has been called Kırkpınar, which means “forty keys” in translation. Currently, such festivals are held throughout Turkey, but the best fighters from all over the country gather for the annual three-day wrestling tournament in Kirkpinar, where it is determined who will receive the title of Başpehlivan (“chief wrestler”, winner) of Turkey. It is known from the Ottoman annals that oil wrestling tournaments have been held every year since 1362, which means that this is the oldest sports competition in the world. Interesting fact is that for all the years the tournaments were canceled only about 70 times.
The question is, why are wrestlers smeared with oil?
Unfortunately, there is no definite answer, but there are two theories on this matter. One of them is that with the help of oil, the fight will become more fair. After all, neither the size nor the strength of a warrior under such conditions will help, the one whose technical skills will be more professional will win. Another theory claims that the skin was coated with oil to prevent mosquitoes from landing on the body.
It is also known that before 1975 there were no time limits in the competition. For hours, and sometimes days, warriors could fight for the right to bear the title of champion. However, a limit of forty minutes was later approved.
For such a tournament in Kirkpinar, about two tons of olive oil are used. And for several days, its smell remains on the courageous bodies of the competitors.
Alanya's Belediye also organizes an oil fight every year. Spectators can watch the beautiful wrestling of Turkish men, immerse themselves in the magical atmosphere of a folklore concert, enjoy traditional Turkish dances and songs, visit a festive bazaar where you can buy Turkish arts and crafts, have a delicious lunch and take part in a variety of entertainment.