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Turkey's National Sport

What is Turkey's National sport?

Football, volleyball and basketball are popular sports in Turkey but they are not the official national sport. So what is it you ask? Oil wrestling!!

Oil Wrestling

For over 630 years towns in Turkey have had their annual oil wrestling competition. It begins with a prayer and then the wrestling begins. There are specific moves and ‘dance steps’ that the wrestlers must begin the fight with in order to adhere to the historic rules around this sport.


There are over 10 different categories which allow contestants of all sizes to compete. The competitions generally last three days and the final day shows the finale match. In some Turkish towns the winner of the whole competition can win a lot of gold which makes this competition extremely popular!

What to wear?

Traditionally, competitors wear tight, short leather trousers called ‘kispet’. These are made of water buffalo leather and weigh approximately 13KG!! Then the participants cover themselves in oil and prepare to wrestle. The wrestlers must be actively fit and strong because this sport is extremely gruelling.

Where can I watch it?

There are many oil wrestling competitions all over Turkey but they tend to be in the spring or summer months. Generally, you can see advertisements around city’s showing dates and times.