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Oil Wrestling

 

Turkey's most famous yağlı güreş (oil wrestling) matches have been  taking Edirne since 1361. Every June hundreds of amateur wrestlers from all over Turkey gather there to show off their strength.

The wrestlers are organized into classes from teşvik (encouragement) to baş güreşler (head wrestlers), with the winner in each class being designated a başpehlivan, or master wrestler. Clad only in leather shorts,they coat themselves with olive oil, utter a traditional chant and start going through a warm-up routine consisting of exaggerated arm-swinging steps and gestures. Then they get down to the nitty gritty of battling each other to the ground, a business that involves some interesting hand techniques to say the least.

On the last day of the festival, the başpehlivans wrestle for the top prize. Finally only two are left to compete for the coveted gold belt.