Oil wrestling is a traditional Turkish sport. It is called oil wrestling because they wrestle by rubbing oil on their bodies. This traditional sport is done in the fields of a contest called “Er Meydani”. It is a sport that requires great strength and mastery since it is difficult for wrestlers to hold each other because of the oil.
The origins of this sport date back to the old days of Egypt and found its way to today with the spread across Europe and Balkans due to shipping trade. It started as a wedding show when landlords started to invite the wrestlers to their weddings for entertainment.
It is known that Turkish people do this sport since the 4th century BC. The sport became a traditional show for many occasions such as the celebrations of nature in spring, marriages, victory ceremonies, etc. In the Ottoman period, the events were controlled by the Empire. The Empire built houses for wrestlers in several locations in Anatolia, and old wrestlers called pehlivan, were put in charge. Murad Sultan the 4'th and Sultan Abdulaziz were also wrestlers and showed how much importance they give to this traditional sport.
As an extension of this tradition, the oil wrestling events are organized today. Generally, one rich and powerful man in that region becomes a sponsor of the events. The most popular one is Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Contest in Edirne, which has a history of over 650 years.
Although oil wrestling is a traditional sport, it was regarded mostly as a show. Therefore, the federation of Traditional Sports was founded only in 1996. Until that day, it was performed only for show and entertainment purposes.