Yusuf Can Zeybek wins golden belt at Trkiye’s annual Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival

Yusuf Can Zeybek won the golden belt after beating Ismail Balaban in the final of the 662nd Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival on Sunday.

Zeybek, 29, got a whopping 1 million Turkish liras, or almost $40,000, in prize money after claiming victory, Runner-up Balaban bagged 250,000 liras ($9,500).

The festival gave out a total of 3 million liras ($115,000) to wrestlers who ranked in all categories, with travel and tour fees included.

Zeybek who hails from Trkiye’s southern Antalya province, defeated Riza Yildirim, Mustafa Tas, Fatih Atli, and Mehmet Yesil before moving on to the final.

Balaban, who is also from Antalya, advanced to the final after beating Sahali Kurt, Mecit Yildirim, Cengizhan Simsek, Ozkan Yildirim, and Huseyin Gumusalan.

On Twitter, Youth and Sports Minister Osman Askin Bak congratulated Zeybek on winning the title baspehlivan (chief wrestler).

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Held annually since 1362

According to the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Kirkpinar festival has its roots in 14th-century Rumeli, a region in the Balkans then held by the budding Ottoman Empire.

As one of the oldest wrestling festivals in the world, Kirkpinar has a long and celebrated history.

Oil wrestlers are lathered in olive oil before clashing on the grass, wearing leather pants tied with a rope at the waist and cuffs.

The three-day event was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010 on behalf of Trkiye.

Source: Anadolu Agency