Edirne municipality authorities say tickets for the event have been sold out, with the tournament this year being held without any Covid-19 restrictions.

On the first day of the tournament, junior wrestlers competed on grass fields in Edirne's historical Sarayici.
On the first day of the tournament, junior wrestlers competed on grass fields in Edirne's historical Sarayici. (AA)

A record 2,475 wrestlers are participating in this year's Kirkpinar, Türkiye's famous oil wrestling competition that has returned to the northwestern Edirne province for its 661st edition from July 1 to July 3.

Edirne municipality authorities have announced that tickets for the sporting event were sold out. This year's tournament is being held without any Covid-19 restrictions.

(AA)

The festival is one of the world's oldest sports events. It has been held annually in the province since 1362, with wrestlers engaging in a physical and mental struggle without the use of any equipment.

It has different categories based on wrestlers' age and weight.

The competition will end with the contest to win the coveted golden belt.

READ MORE: Battle of grease and wit to top Turkey's 658th oil wrestling competition

(AA)

Rich history

Throughout history, Turks — particularly soldiers — have used wrestling for training purposes, as a show of bravery, or even as a way of winning the hearts of their lovers.

To Turkish people, wrestling has become such an indispensable part of the country's culture that it is often referred to as an “ancestor sport”.

Over 50 "Baspehlivan", or wrestlers-in-chief, are taking part in this year's tournament. The title is reserved for those who win the tournament and get to wear the prestigious golden belt for a year.

(AA)

Feyzullah Aktürk, one of the chief wrestlers, could not register because he was on the national wrestling team duty.

A wrestler has to be declared the wrestler-in-chief for three successive years in order to win the golden belt forever.

Ali Gürbüz, a two-time wrestler-in-chief, was eliminated in the second round this year, losing his chance to become the eternal owner of the golden belt.

(All photographs by AA)

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies