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Anyone who�d ever seen oilwrestlers recognize immediately the characteristic position of the men in the 4650 year old Babelonic bronze, found in the Chafadji Temple. It is the oldest known evidence of oil-coated wrestling, that unique and highly esthetic �mother of all powersports�.
(Photo: Elko Westervaarder)


... to say 640th Kirkpinar of Edirne must be a joke. The Kirkpinar was held the FIRST time in Edirne in 1924, and before that in Kapitan Andeervo, former Viran-Teke in Bulgaria.
So year 2001 A.D. would have been the 77th Kirkpinar of Edirne and not the 640 year after a date invented years or maybe centuries later.
I know, it is just a little difference of only 564 years in recent time. All historians agree that it is not more than tale that 40 warriors in the Ottoman army invented oilwrestling, as there is a Babelonic bronze that clearly proves that oilwrestling or Yagli G�res is at least 4650 year old.
I think it is an insult to any historian to reduce this existence to 640 years just to make it fit in the history of the Turkish occupation of Thrace.
If Edirne dares to call their competition number 640, why not number next years match in the Netherlands the 6651 Amsterdam Kirkpinar?
With kindly regards,
J.E.Miller, historian

Letter from historian Miller on 4 July 2001 to the Edirne Kirkpinar-board

The furthest achievement in wrestling is oil wrestling. None of the World- or Olympic Champions were able to win in Oilwrestling, but many wrestlers who have started in oil wrestling have gone on to achieve World and Olympic success.

Oldest known evidence
2650 B.C. in Egypt and Assyria

The history of oil wrestling links straight back to 2650 B.C. with evidence both from Egypt and Assyria and about the same era. The Babelonic body of evidence, a tiny bronze, excavated near the Chafadji-temple. It is as clear as plain day-light that the bronze concern oilwrestlers: both athletes are pictured with oilvessels on their head.
Read more about the Chafadji-bronze.

The oldest known proof of the existence of oilwrestling in Egypt is in limestone from the tomb of Ptahhoteb near Sakkara from the 5th dynasty (about 2650 BC) from the same period as the Chafadji-bronze.

Another appealing proof is about 4000 years old and painted like a cartoon in a tomb near Beni Hasan in Egypt. The deceased who occupied this tomb must have been a famous oilwrestler in his time!

On the first picture we see the greasing of the wrestler, the oil stored in a reed stem. After that, the wrestling started. The pictures could have been taken yesterday during a Kirkpinar! The last picture down shows the unchanged �three step triumph� of oiled wrestling.
From this period we can trace the basic rules.

Centuries later the Iranians conquest Egypt and Persian shah-kings occupied the throne of the Pharao�s.
1065-283 B.C. Oilwrestling in Iran

The history of the oilwrestling tournaments as we know today links back to the Persian Mythical Era which according to Ferdowsi's Shahnameh started 1065 B.C. The legendary pehlivan of this era is called Rostam, a hero constantly saving his country from the evil forces.

The ceremonial start of oilwrestling, called by its Persian name "Peshrev" has clear links with old Iranian istitutes as the zurkhane, literally "house of strength". The building consists of a court, around which the men who will perform arrange themselves, and a gallery for the ostad ("master") or morshed (spiritual leader) and the musicians. Nowadays, the musical accompaniment consists of a drum and recitation of portions of Ferdowsi's Shahname. There are various rhythms employed, and a variety of movements associated with them, including displays of strength in manipulating heavy objects (such as weights and chains) and acrobatics.

Here the origin of the peshrev has to be found, by some considered to be a warming up and greet-the-audience ceremony, to others a participatory form of dance. Certain different from the usual step-right, step-left, step-right, kick-left, step-left, kick-right dance found all over the area.
238 B.C.-1346 A.D. Greco-Roman Oilwrestling

The word ��Pehlivan�� for a wrestler was first used in the period when the Parthian (238 BC - 224 AD) expelled the Greeks from Iran.
378 A.D. Huns defeat Romans near Edirne

The Huns arriving on the fringes of the Roman Empire in the late fourth century, riding their horses out of the great steppes of Asia into Germany and France. As they approached the Black Sea and conquered the Ostrogoths, they also drove the Visigoths across the Danube into the Roman Empire and caused the crisis that led to the astounding defeat of the Roman army under the Emperor Valens near Adrianople (Edirne) in 378 AD.
The Huns were fanatic wrestlers as well as horsemen. After securing a strong position on the Roman side of the Danube the Huns were checked by the Roman army of general Aspar in Thrace (442).

In 447 Pehlivan Attila came again into Thrace and stopped only when Emperor Thodosius II, begged for terms. During the negotiations a Roman-Hun wrestling competition was held in Thermopylae. The dispute was actually settled by a wresting match and winner Attila accepted payment of all tribute in arrears and a new annual tribute of 2,100 pounds of gold and territory south of the Danube.

Three years later Emperor Theodosius fell from his horse and died. His successor, Marcian (450-457), refused to pay Attila. The Hun decided to leave it, as the sister of the Roman Emperor Valentinian, the lovely Honoria, sended her ring and a message to the King of the Huns and asked Attila to become her champion. Atilla agreed with this marriage proposal. As the sister of the Roman Emperor was put in prison, Atilla decided to take care of her dowry.
So he crossed the Rhine, took Metz, sacked Rheims, Mainz, Strasbourg, Cologne, Worms, Trier and put Orleans under siege. When Attila invaded Italy, Pope Leo I speeded to Northern Italy to meet the Great Pehlivan and pay him off to spare Rome and abandon Papal Soil.

As Honoria was not aviable, next year Attila took a new, young, beautiful bride named Ildico. The wedding day was spent with one of the greatest wrestlingmatch of this time. The party went on when the King of the Huns took his new bride to bed that night. That night he died - drowned in his own nosebleed. The empire of the Huns dissipated nearly as quickly as its most famous leader. In 454 the Ostrogoths and other Germanic tribes revolted and the sons of Attila, who had quarreled among themselves, could not deal with the crisis. In the words of Bury, the Huns were "scattered to the winds."
1346 Oilwrestling for Sultan and Shah

During the period Islam was brought into Asia Minor, spirituality and philosophy became part of the physical garment of the pehlivan. Oilwrestling was established as a sport on it�s own. In Iran and the Ottoman Empire alike wrestling became the national sport. In Iran wrestling grew to the customary institution of the zurkhane strong house, where people go to socialise and engage in athletic exercise. The wrestler is the strong-man in popular culture (in Persian the term is "big neck"), but he is also the pahlavan, the knightly hero who is a free-living spirit and is generous and loyal.

In Turkey according to a popular tale the foundation of the Kirkpinar is attached to the eldest son of Ottoman sultan Orhan.

The year 1360 is adapted by the organizers of the Edirne Kirkpinar as date Ottoman soldiers started to organize annual oilwrestling tournaments in Kirkpinar, a wrestlingfield "within Samona village". According to the Guinness Book of World Records this legend made the Kirkpinar world's oldest continuously sanctioned sporting competition.
Click here to read about the historic site of the first KIRKPINAR

Whatever tales, myths and stories. There has always been a common respect for the oilwrestlers. The pehlivan's being stronger than anybody, having a well built body, clothed in heavy leather pants.

Up till today the wrestlers pour olive oil onto their bodies. And still you see a younger wrestler defeating an older wrestler kiss the older wrestler's hand.

According to historian Burhan-katia, the word pehlivan was also used for an officer, governor or huge and honest person. From the 16th century on the term was exclusively used in the Ottoman Empire for the wrestling sportsman.

It was the time of S�leyman, known throughout the known world as 'The Magnificent', even among such big-name-players as Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor -- ruling Spain, Germany and parts of Italy), Henry VIII (the Tudor king of England), and Francis I (Valois king of France).

S�leyman, in his own land known as "kanuni", the Legislator, reigned between 1520 and 1566 and was succeeded by his son Selim II, for whom Sinan build the Selimiye in Edirne, considered to be Turkey�s most beautiful mosque.

But above all it was the era of Murat III (1546-1595). Under him the Ottoman Empire reached its largest geographical area in history.

In 1590 a peace agreement was reached between Murat III and the Persian Shah. The model of the wrestlingpants go back to this period, . The model is still same for the Iranian "pahlivan" and the Turkish "pehlivan", exept that the Turkish wrestlingpants are made of leather and are called "kispet", while the Iranian Pahlivan wears a "pirpet", made of silk.

Famous wrestlers from Iran came to Istanbul to compete with the Ottoman Champions, and the Turkish champs were invited to Persia to show their strenght.*

Click here to read more about the Zurkhane.
Collecting strong men

Before 1582, all recruits came from prisoners of war, the devsirme, or other slave sources. With that devsirme, the very best and strongest guys were recruited from all the provinces of the Ottoman Empire.

Only the strongest and most healtiest boys had a chance to become a Pehlivan. Always known to be free enought to be honest and through history trusted for his words and behaviours.

The influence of Iranians on the sport must have been huge, as in Turkey the traditional start of an oilwrestlingbout was and is still called "peshrev" in the Farsi language. And whatever language reforms, in Turkey a wrestler is still called "pehlivan", Persian for hero.

Everywhere in the Ottoman Empire were wrestling championships held. Every city and village had its annual wrestling, like nowadays. Wrestling occured in a variety of contexts, including social and ceremonial events. There was wrestling on religious festival days, during special evenings of the Moslem fasting-month of Ramadan, on agricultural events, circumcisions and weddings. On special occasions charity wrestling competitions were organized outside the palaces. Only the best wrestlers were accepted in training to become members of the elite Janissary Corps.
1867 oilwrestling for French Imp�ratrice Eugenie

When the Ottoman Sultan visited France in 1867, oilwrestlers were part of his entourage and Imp�ratrice Eugenie visited the wrestling-tournament. Wrestling was tough, but oilwrestling was even harder. It was considered the most difficult sport in the world. In these days the expression �Fort comme une Turc� (Strong as a Turk) revived from the crusade-days.
1912-1924 Virantekke

After Balkan war of 1912 the place of the original Kirkpinar of Oiled wrestling was left. The annual match had to be relocated from Kirkpinar (near Samona) to Virantekke, now the Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint on the Bulgarian border.
1924 Edirne

After 12 years the annual oilwrestling competition of the Kirkpinar moved again to another place. Since 1924 bouts are held on the Sarayi�i island near Edirne.
The last Ottoman Sultan went in exile to Malta. In what was left over of that great empire almost everything traditional had to be replaced or westernized. The language was "purified" by replacing words of Persian or Arabic origin for mostly French. Even a sport prevailing any western sport was at stake. .
Atat�rk thought to put the wrestling organizations directly under his own sponsorship. He ordered Selim Sirri Tarcan (1874-1956) to restyle oilwrestling according his guidelines according sport in the new Turkish Republic.

So the winner of the Edirne was no longer "Bashpehlivan of the Kirkpinar" but "Champion of Turkey".
And instead of all those traditional prizes as that Altin Kemer (Golden Belt) and all those horses, donkeys and camels the winners should have a nice, modern medal. Just as they do in the rest of the modern world.

It was rumoured no Pehlivan would show up when instead of gold and live-stock only a title and medal would be given "because they do so in Europe".

The former officer responsible for sport in the new Republic had to back down and allowed the winning wrestler in the highest category also a "Baspehlivan of the Year" award, to be a horse, camel, sheep, duck, whatever the organizers could obtain..
Selim Sirri Tarcan also put restraint on the Golden Belt: Only for the Edirne Kirkpinar and solely if a "Turkish Champion" was winner for three consecutive years he should become the owner of such a valueable object. The weight of the Altin Kemer was limited to a topmost of 1.450 gram 14 carat gold. .

The Kirkpinar wrestling competitions of Edirne were still held under the protectorate of the agha. The Agha welcomes his guests and puts them up at the hotel, has dinners, and organizes festivities. Also, he hands out the prizes to the winners in their categories. Just before the final of the Kirkpinar, the organizing agha holds an auction. The bids are placed on a ram or sheep. The highest bidder becomes the �agha� of the next year's Kirkpinar and is the number one sponsor.
2002 Europe-agha Mr. S�leyman Erdem of the Amsterdam Kirkpinar.

But in the western orientated Turkish republic of Mustafa Kemal Atat�rk it was hard to find an agha who would met the prizes and hosting of guests.

When in 1928 an economical depressions hit Turkey and no agha could be found, Selim Sirri Tarcan made the Turkish Red Cross (Kizilay) and the �ocuk Esirgeme Kurumu (Institute of Child Care) responsible for the organization and hosting of the guests.
In the old days an agha was able to stop a match, disqualify wrestlers if necessary, and even to cancel the wrestling events all together. Nowadays it is the organizing committee who make such decisions.
Red Cross and Child Care would organize the Edirne Kirkpinar for 36 years. Then the organization was made a municipality services.
1931 letter by Atat�rk
The legendary oilwrestler Kurtdereli Mehmet, an oilwrestler from the village of Kurtdere, was famous all over the world. Mehmet said in an interview in 1931 that he pictured the Turkish nation supporting him in every match. He pleased president Mustafa Kemal Atat�rk very much with his words.
� Photo: Cem Shirazi

Ataturk sent him this letter:

To the wrestler Mehmet of Kurtdere.

I have come to know you as a wrestler of world renown. I have also learned that you described the secret behind your success in the following words: �In every wrestling match, I picture the Turkish nation supporting me, and I think of our national honour.�

I admire what you say as much as your deeds. Therefore, I am recording your statement to be a professional maxim for all Turkish sportsmen to demonstrate how pleased I am with your statement.

Enclosed is a small gift for you and your children.

I wish you a long, healthy life.

Kemal Ataturk .
1964 Edirne Kirkpinar municipality services

In 1964 the mayor of Edirne, Tahsin Sipka, signed an act that the Edirne Municipality was responsible for the organization of the Edirne Kirkpinar. That same year mayor Sipka made the Edirne Kirkpinar a municipality services.

During a year about 300 different oilwrestling games are held in Turkey. They host 10 million spectators on average.
1975 introduction of time

Until 1975, there was no time limit to wrestling in Kirkpinar. The pehlivans would wrestle sometimes one, sometimes two days, until they could establish superiority to one another. Wrestling games would go on from 9am in the morning until dusk and the ones that could not beat each other would go on the next day. After 1975, wrestling was limited to 40 minutes in baspehlivan category. If there is no winner within these limits, the pehlivans wrestle for 15 minutes with scored recorded. The ones that can score points in this last part are accepted as the winners. In other categories, the wrestling time is limited to 30 minutes. If there is no winner, 10 minutes of score wrestling follows.

On 20 June 1996 the Turkish Traditional Sport Branches Federation (Geleneksel Spor Dallari Federasyonu) was accepted by the Turkish Ministry.
Riding, oily wrestling, aba wrestling and other traditional sports were assembled in the same federation under Alper Yazoglu.
1997 Oilwrestling hits Europe in Amsterdam

During the 636th annual KIRKPINAR of Edirne, Agha (mc) H�seyin Sahin agreed with Veyis G�ng�r (chairman of T�rkevi Amsterdam) and Mohamed el-Fers (MokumTV Amsterdam) that they would unite their fordes to promote historical oilwrestling in Europe and the world. Three days El-Fers filmed almost every match.
On the September 4th 1996 MokumTV started a weekly program on the Amsterdam channel. It proved to be the start of fast growing respect in Europe for this unique and highly esthetic �mother of all sports�.

The late H�seyin Sahin said during his speech, attended by Turkish president S�leyman Demirel, Edirne-mayor Hamdi Sedef�i, Veyis G�ng�r and Mohamed el-Fers that the KIRKPINAR will exceeds the borders of Turkey and unite the world.

The champion wrestlers who attended that 636th Edirne KIRKPINAR applauded the news of an AMSTERDAM KIRKPINAR.
In his speech at the award ceremony President S�leyman Demirel said that Turkey would continue to raise world-famous wrestlers.
Mr. Veyis G�ng�r told the press that day that the enthusiast reactions in Europe proved that this traditional Turkish sport is not only everlasting, but thanks to television and video, is gaining popularity under non-Turkish people as well. The organizers of the coming AMSTERDAM KIRKPINAR received the days after the news was released about 950 letters of oilwrestlers throughout Turkey who would enter competition for the title of euro-champion of the AMSTERDAM KIRKPINAR.

The Mother of All Sports came in 1997 for the first ever to western Europe when the European Championleague were held in Amsterdam. No less than 22 television teams covered the event, and scenes from the Amsterdam KIRKPINAR were shown at CNN and the BBC alike.
The 2nd European Oil Wrestling Championship held in Amsterdam had already a final with 42 wrestlers from Turkey, the Netherlands and other European countries. Winner was Cengiz Elbeye, Edirne Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Champion.
Addressing the ceremony held upon the start of the matches, Erkut Onart, the Turkish Consul General in the Netherlands, said that he believed the friendship between the Turkish society and the European countries is intensified when these kinds of cultural values are brought to Europe.
In the world of oilwrestling Amsterdam is now the most important annual KIRKPINAR after Edirne.

Oilwrestling accepted as special branche by the Turkish Olympic Wrestling Federation. Sport and Politics, as in 1996 the Turkish Traditional Sport Branches Federation (Geleneksel Spor Dallari Federasyonu) was official accepted as federation representing oilwrestling and other traditional Turkish sports.
1999 Doping control

In 1999 doping control was introduced for the first time introduced by the Turkish Olympic Wrestling Federation during the Edirne Kirkpinar.
2000 Foreighn oilwrestler rejected in Edirne

Oilwrestling is a growing sport, not limited to Turkey only. Sad enough it is difficult for foreign wrestlers to enter this National Turkish Championship. In 2000 Dutch oilwrestler Melvin Witteveens entry in Edirne was rejected, while Kadir Yilmaz, beaten by Witteveen some weeks earlier at the Amsterdam Kirkpinar, was allowed to participate due to his double Turko/Dutch nationalities.

As the winners of the categories of the Amsterdam KIRKPINAR in Holland are considered to be European Champions, this creates the strange fact that according international standards the Amsterdam Kirkpinar tops Edirne, as latter being the National championship of Turkey only, repudiating non-Turkish entries.
2001 Edirne Worldchampionship?

The organization of the Amsterdam Kirkpinar asked Mehmet Ayhan, the president of the Turkish Oilwrestling Federation to make the Edirne Kirkpinar official Worldchampionship, so non-Turkish winners of the Amsterdam Kirkpinar are allowed to enter.


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Wrestling and sports photo gallery. Used Wrestling gear for sale.
Continental Sports Continental Sports Limited - UK Based Company selling Gymnastic Gear and Wrestling / Martial Art Mats
Cliff Keen Athletic Sales - Wrestling Briefs and Tights etc.
Fightsite Fightsite movies concentrate on unrehearsed fighting sports. The fighters are tough, handsome, muscular guys of all types and shades. Lots of amateur and submission wrestling, plus one semi-pro movie. Also boxing, and a bit of Vale Tudo. New types of fighting will be introduced shortly!
New Link April 2004
Forty Springs Kirkpinar Turkish Oil wrestling site. Video tapes sales of this traditional, live outdoor wrestling event. Very good quality tapes available in PAL, SECAM and NTSC TV formats. Pictures and info about Kirkpinar.
Gay Cycling
Gay Cycling. European based site.
Grappler Construction Grappler Construction - Bob Burmeister�s page of wrestling and other links.
Gladiators Roman Gladiator Pictures, movie list & Stories
IWA International Wrestling Australia. Wrestling School, Gallery, Videos, calendar.
Kirkpinar Amsterdam Turkish Oil Wrestling in Amsterdam.
Lawrence Grecco Lawrence Grecco Photography. Kirkpinar Turkish Oil Wrestling site. Photos and information.
Muscles In Motion
Bodybuilding Videos. New Sept 2004
Power Books Publisher Of Wrestling for Gay Guys. This unique book is about being Gay and interested in Wrestling or Martial Arts. Wrestling for Gay Guys has advice about both the physical and mental aspects of wrestling. It looks into the authors experiences and his involvement in the UK scene. The book also contains some great illustrations by Matt.
PWP PWP Wrestling is a new underground pro wrestling site. PWP features young, well-built athletes who are learning the ropes. Give us a look. You won't regret it!
Repetrope Male and Female bodybuilding videos. Credit Card sales. Specialises in the production and sales of bodybuilding and exercise videotapes. Officially contracted by the National Physique Committee (NPC) to provide complete and comprehensive video coverage of all nation-level bodybuilding and fitness competitions. Very good Site.
Rickson Gracie Rickson Gracie's Jiu-Jitsu Site. Merchandise and Videos For Sale.
Rodco Sports Wrestling Singlets Sales.
Trip Abdos French language Abdominal (Gut) punching. Photoa and videos. Organised meetings, session pictures. Cool.
U S A Sombo United States Sombo Association. Information for Sombo participants USA based wrestling supplies shop. Shoes Gear Uniforms Trophies Links
Official City of Edirne Kirkpinar site: History of the tournament, definition of terms.

Kirkpinar wrestling site: Variety of galleries and information for fans.

Asahi, a Japanese photographer�s site with Turkish wrestling galleries.

Bibolett, a French photographer with a Turkish wrestling gallery.

Larry Grecco, an American photographer with b&w Kirkpinar photos.

Amsterdam tournament site: Since June 1999 a one-day mini-Kirkpinar has been held in the Netherlands. Photos, history, etc.

Calendar of wrestling events in Britain and Europe, including Kirkpinar dates.

Tom Fortunato�s amateur wrestling site, including Turk wrestling galleries.

Matt Furey�s Combat Wrestling, a celebrated U.S. competitor and coach.

Veteran French pro-wrestler�s site, with galleries of classic Turk wrestling.


Turkish Wrestling Yahoo Groups

Turkish Oil Wrestling:


Gures Wrestling:

Gures (in Turkish)

Turkish Female Wrestling: http://groups/

III. Other Video Sites Featuring Submission-Type Wrestling

French wrsetling videos: Muscled French grapplers in hard-fought individual submission

Matches on mats.

Underground Independent Wrestling: young men wrestle, variety of styles and locations.

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No Holds Barred Productions: Large selection of videos, mostly young guys wrestling

to submission in basement or ring matches.

Let�s Wrestle: Young amateurs wrestling to submission in home-made videos.

Danube Women Wrestlers: Beautiful, built females wrestle or box, in matches varying

From serious competition to erotic nude battles.




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