EDIRNE, Turkey — After a year-long, pandemic-induced hiatus, the sounds of the zurna flute and beating drums again greeted thousands of Turkish wrestling fans who returned to the country’s northwest for a 600-year-old oil wrestling championship.
Last year’s contest was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. But spectators headed in droves to Edirne province on the Greek border over the weekend to watch a sport that dates to the 14th century.
Over three days, competitors clad in leather trousers known as “’kispet” and liberally doused in olive oil struggled to earn the title of Baspehlivani, or chief wrestler, the sport’s equivalent of world champion.
Wrestlers greet each other as they are introduced to the crowds.Emrah Gurel/AP Wrestler Ali Gurbuz, center, celebrates after winning the final to gain the sport’s golden belt in the 660th instalment of the annual Historic Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling championship.Emrah Gurel/AP Spectators watch wrestling on the third and last day of the championship.Emrah Gurel/AP