Ali Gürbüz crowned chief wrestler at Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival

Published 07.07.2019 18:27
Updated 07.07.2019 23:11
emDHA Photo/em
DHA Photo

Ali Gürbüz on Sunday earned the title of Chief Wrestler at the 658th Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival in Turkey's Edirne by defeating his rival Orhan Okulu.

Gürbüz and Okulu, both from the western province of Antalya, had competed against each other twice at Kırkpınar, with each gaining a victory.

Sunday's battle between Gürbüz and Okulu did not conclude 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.

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

Gürbüz previously won the title of Chief Wrestler in 2011 and 2012, while Okulu won in 2015 and 2018.

The Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival, which began Friday, is one of the world's oldest sports events and has been held annually in the province since 1362, with wrestlers engaging in a physical and mental struggle without the use of any equipment. 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, which will earn them the title of Chief Wrestler (Başpehlivan) and the right to wear the prestigious golden belt for a year.

A win requires one wrestler to put his rival's back on the ground but it is a tricky affair as both men are covered in olive oil, making it almost impossible to get a good grip on the rival. Under new rules, the winner of a bout will be chosen by "golden points" handed out by referees if the 40-minute bout ends with both wrestlers still standing.

With 2,380 registered wrestlers and fully booked hotels, the province treats the 658th edition of the festival as the main event of the year. For three days, wrestlers of all ages and weights competed for the ultimate prize: a golden belt. This year's event was more challenging as organizers, determined to revive the spirit of old-school oil wrestling, a sport widely popular in most cities of Anatolia, changed the rules for more action. Wrestlers competed in a 40-minute, non-stop bout instead of a bout of 30 minutes that used to be extended 10 minutes more with a five-minute break if there was no winner.

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