Edirne is clear.  The Turkish traditional oil wrestling rally in 2005 was opened, and in the early summer wind, a young swallow circled delicately above the field.
  This wrestling rally is the oldest in the world.  As an athletic meet, it's long history rivals the Olympics, this being it's 644th year.  The 12 wrestling classes were increased by 1 in the youngest competitors category, to a total of 13.  Another three prizes were added, the best Pesrev prize, the technical wrestler prize, and the gentle wrestler prize.  These are not awarded based on victories, or defeats.  There are now a total of 57 medals for 16 wrestling categories.
  The greatest number of wrestlers in this history, 1,797, took part in the rally to ascertain who has honed their skills best in the past year.

The bold currency redenomination
  In Turkey, as of January 1st, 2005, the Turkish lira was redenominated.
  The number of zeros on the notes were increasing constantly due to inflation, and was distressing for travelers.  The currency redenomination is meant to eliminate 6 digits of zeros all at once.
  The new Turkish lira (YTL) is approximately 0.75 USD.  After this, the new currency unit will be used in the article, for citing amounts of money for prizes.
Kara doesn't participate because of the injury
  Recep Kara, who was champion after his first participation in the tournament in 2004, damaged the ligament of his left knee in the modern wrestling games held in Bulgaria in April.  So he had to give up participation in this tournament because of his operation and the rehabilitation.
  He was able to participate in the street parade before the opening ceremony, and in the flag-hoisting ceremony.  He intends to participate in the next tournament after some time to cure his injury.

Aga 2 years in a row!
  Adem Tuysuz, the businessman from Kelkit, again won the bidding on the ram, thus becoming "Aga".  He has grasped all of honor of the rally hosting for the second year in a row.  The bidding amount of money was 180,000 YTL, which is less than the 300,000YTL last year.
  The gold belt of honor can be held if an Aga serves 3 years continuously, the same as a wrestling champion.  Adem Tuysuz seems to desire this honor, so how much money will he bid for next tournament?
The statue of Tasci was completed
  The statue of the master of Kirkpinar, Ahmet Tasci, was completed at the plaza in the stadium, and was unveiled in public ceremony.  Also, Adali Halil's statue, a brave man in the history of traditional wrestling, is unveiled next.
  Tasci is proud holder of the greatest number of victories in the republic era, which started in 1923, and his achievements are highly valued.

  The statue is very realistic because it features the trademark mustache Tasci wore when he establishing the continuous record of victories.  Moreover, in Tasci's case, his statue is the first of a living and active wrestler.
  According to Hamdi Sedefci, Mayor of Edirne, in the future he will continue to build the statues of great wrestlers and Agas, and he wants to place them all in the Saraych area of the stadium.

The 644th Turkish traditional oil wrestling rally
  The seed system by ranking order was set up from the new game rules adopted from the rally in 2004.
  The justification of this seed system is verified while seeing wrestlers' victories or defeats along the ranking order.

Categories by ranking order
  This year, there are 46 wrestlers registered in the Bas-pehlivan category.  The category is divided beforehand in order of their rank from the winning record of the previous year.
  The upper 16 from the first to last into category A, and the next 16 from the 17th to 32nd into category B.  The 14 left are all in the 33rd place, and are unranked.

The first round
  In the first round, an opponent is elected from 32 in the main category by lot against a wrestler elected by lot from the unranked wrestlers, and 14 matches are done.  Basically, if the unranked wrestler doesn't win against a "Surely strong opponent for him", the unranked wrestler doesn't advance to the second round.
  Then, the remaining 18 in the main categories of the seed, advance from the first round to the second round without fighting.
  There was only one unranked wrestler who was able to win in the first round.  The wrestler who won is placed with the list of names of the wrestlers who won in the main category.  If it is possible to defeat a wrestler of category A here, a wrestler can advance in rank.
The second round
  Theoretically, there should always be 32 wrestlers who can participate in the second round.  The opponent is decided by lot again here.  There are no matches between category A and B. Basically, it would be necessary to fight with an opponent who is stronger, if that opponent were a wrestler of category B.
  The results of the second round showed only 2 wrestlers from category B advanced to the 3rd round.  It is understood that prior category division is greatly related to victory or defeat.
  Ahmet Yavuz from Edirne, is in the 16th ranking place.  However, he finally won the 3rd place, and advantageously advanced from the first stage.
  On the other hand, Sezgin Yuksel, who was only two steps separate in the ranking, was registered in category B.  His opponent, decided by lot, was Ziya Unlu in the first ranking unfortunately.  It was not possible to advance to the third round though Sezgin was a wrestler who had ability.
  Moreover, Irfan Sen, won a prize as many as five times a year in tournaments in various places, was category B.  It is a rule that the number of medals taken in the Bas-alti category under one class, cannot be evaluated to the same value as Bas-pehlivan, though Irfan was in the first rally as Bas-pehlivan.

  Irfan protested against this decision and abstained from the rally.

Fate is swayed by the drawing of lots
  This time, three wrestlers protested against the decision of the ranking order.  The rally was interrupted for one hour or more because of a remark by the master of Kirkpinar, Ahmet Tasci; "I should defend my brothers (junior wrestlers).  I do not play a match if they cannot consent either."
  Traditional wrestling is a severe sport.  Forty minutes under the hot sun in midsummer, and an additional 15 minutes if it becomes a point game, and to fight in six matches or less in two days.  A wrestler must be careful expending his stamina, because the next match cannot be won if he is exhausted from fighting against a strong wrestler, and having bad luck.  It can be said that victory or defeat, besides a wrestler's ability, is greatly controlled by the lot fate.

  When the seed system was introduced in 2004, the chairman of the Wrestling Association says, "The rule that the person who had made the most effort will be won was made".  It is certain that by accumulating wins in local matches to raise the ranking, and entering in category A, are the steps to winning a prize.  However, it seems that maintaining a more transparent rule about the lot method, and decision of the ranking, is needed.

Superhuman stamina of wrestlers
  Water is not taken under the hot sun at the midsummer, and the wrestlers fight their to their best ability for 40 minutes.  The traditional wrestling of Turkey is one of the most severe games in the world.  The wrestlers quitting due to exhaustion is rare, though a few ambulances always stand by outside the stadium in case of emergency.  It is surprising that very few wrestlers are overcome by Heat Disorders, etc.  Especially considering that oil covers the whole body, and is sure to disturb the evaporation of sweat, not to mention the severe temperature and humidity.
  If the wrestlers' bodies are observed, their figures are not sharpened muscular masses, as is common in modern wrestling.  It seems this way because the muscle is covered with subcutaneous fat.  However, this subcutaneous fat is very the sources of their superhuman stamina.  The weight of the wrestler decreases by several kilos by the end of the rally, features are different, because moisture and paniculus adiposus on the inside of the body are consumed.
  Traditional wrestling of Turkey would surely be one of the choices if there were a question, "What are the strongest combative sports in the world?". 

1,850 liters in two days
  Wrestlers fight bathed large amounts of olive oil covering their whole bodies, in the traditional way.  It became clear that this was a key feature of this game, when by only the second day of the 2005 rally, 1,850 liters were already consumed.
  By contrast, 1,600 liters in three days was the record from the previous year.  The 2005 rallies participating wrestlers numbered 1,797, the most in the history of the sport.  Of course, the number of people wrestling increased the consumption of oil.

  However, considering only about 500 liters were consumed in three days several years ago, it is easy to imagine that wrestlers' way of bathing in oil has become showy.
  The appearance of the wrestlers grandly bathing in oil is frequently broadcast on live television, and oil manufacturing company's oil cans are prominently featured on the screen.  It seems obvious that big advertisers except the audiences watching to think of using their brand of oil to cook.
  The oil manufacturing company offers two tons of oil for free, and oil is preliminary stored at the stadium.  So, however much oil the wrestlers bath in, there is certain to be plenty more at the rally.

The gold belt
  The gold belt loaned to the champion of Kirkpinar is made of 22 karat gold, 850 grams of it in the emblem, 1,450 grams in total, and worth 50,000YTL (about 37,500 USD).
  On the other hand, the similar belt which Aga wears on his shoulder is made of 14 karat gold, 650 grams in the emblem, and is worth 20,000YTL (about 15,000 USD).  It was changed to gold, though it was silver before, in honor of an Aga who donated a large contribution.

  Both belts are of different designs, the one that depicts the wrestlers of Pesrev (preparation for fighting) is for the champion, and the other one that depicts the fighting wrestlers is for Aga.
  When a wrestler wins the championship 3 years in a row, and when the Aga serves 3 years in a row, the belt goes into private possession.

Davul and Zurna
  Davul (drum) and Zurna (pipe), in a word, the performance of the tradition drum and pipe corps is one of the important elements in traditional wrestling.  It's one of the elements that rallies the fight and gives courage to wrestlers.  Many of them are performers only for the Kirkpinar, because of the original melody performed only in the rally of Kirkpinar.
  They apply delicate nuance to the performance according to the conductor's instruction, while gazing at the progress of game.  However, it is not a simple variation to perform intensely if the fight is active, or perform quietly if the fight is gradual.  It exemplifies the pulse of a wrestler's heart, throb of muscles, and tense breathing of the wrestler trying to set a technique.  It is exacting work to put those into the melody.
  Though it sounds strange, a cameraman who is experienced in taking pictures of the traditional wrestling, says that it possible to know that a match has reached the most interesting part, if he listens attentively the performance of the traditional drum and pipe corps.
  This secret allows one to not miss the chance at a perfect shot after a long match lasting 40 minutes, all from the performance of the traditional drum and pipe corps.

Master Ahmet Tasci
  The Master of Kirkpinar is Ahmet Tasci, who has won the championship nine times, and maintains two gold belts.  The fourth round match pitted him against a younger wrestler named Ahmet Yavuz from Edirne.
  Tasci's combats were hard because he had injured a ligament, making it hard to keep his footing while in pain during the rally.  Moreover, he had to handle three games in the first day because of bad luck, and faced very strong opponents.

  The progress of the game amounted to being pushed by youthful power from beginning to end, and after 13 minutes it became a point match.  Tasci voluntarily gripped the right hand of the opponent, and gave up immediately after a second warning for unproductive attacks, and was defeated.
  In the past, Tasci declared defeat in finals with Vedat Ergin in 2001.  He might be thinking in the traditional in old ways, when umpires didn't exist, and victory or defeat was decided by the two wrestlers.

  After his fights, Tasci made the following remarks during an interview with a journalist.
  "It is not youth, but it is power necessary for this game, though it is needless to say.  I am still powerful, and go on wrestling until this power is completely exhausted in myself.".
  Ahmet Tasci is 48 years old.  A hero in Turkey, whose statue was built while he continues fighting.

= Finals =
  Saban Yilmaz's agility vs. Ekrem Yavuz's might.  The finals became a match of popular wrestlers who were each thought to be sure bets for victory.
  Both wrestlers won a prize at higher rank in the most significant class, Bas-pehlivan, and won victory at one lower class, Bas-alti.

  They are strong men who have also won victory repeatedly in local rallies.

  There was a little trouble before the match.
  The start time of the final had been decided at 17:30 beforehand.  But Saban didn't appear in the field, though the Cazgir called repeatedly.
  Saban had fought five games so far because he was not seeded in the first round.  In the previous game, he got the LIFT against his tough opponent, Hasan Tuna, and won by decision in extra innings.  It seemed hardly any of his stamin could remain.
  The chief umpire gave 1 warning to Saban, for not obeying the summons.  Everyone concerned could not conceal their angst, because it is a serious matter if Kirkpinar is won because a favorite is disqualified.
  Ekrem stood quietly in the field alone, waiting for the appearance of Saban.

  Meanwhile, finals of Bas-alti still continued in the field at that time.

  At near 18:00 the sun was getting very low in the sky.  When the finals of Bas-alti were being decided, and the spectators were loudly applauding, even louder shouts of joy suddenly erupted.  
  Saban appeared calmly in the field.

  The proof of who the strongest man in Turkey was, tantalized the spectators.  Saban was waiting for the entire field of Kirkpinar to be surrendered for only two combative soldiers, who contend for the throne.
  Ekrem greeted the rival's appearance with applause.

 Game had begun.  Both were careful in the early stages of the campaign.  They began by grappled for a long time, and spectators booed because the match was not fun.  The chief umpire went down to the field to reprove them, and gave them both 1 warning because the attacks were not productive.
  Tense progress of the game continued as they both adjusted their timing, because both are aiming for the first victory.

  They fought for 40 minutes in regulation time, then Ekrem was given 1 more warning.  Now it was a point fight.  At this point, both wrestlers warnings totaled two points.  If either one received another warning point, victory or defeat is decided by judgment.

  The two mountains moved during the 7 minutes from beginning of the point fight.  Saban gripped the right hem and waist of the Kispet, quickly lifting it up to make use of the momentum of Ekrem, who had tried to make Saban lose his balance by hurling himself against Saban.
  Saban picked up the gigantic figure of Ekrem, who seemed to floated momentarily.  With his full strength, Saban executed a Gogus Capraz (above chest drop)!
  Saban Yilmaz is from Samsun and sponsored by Ankara City.  The first victory of Saban came 16 years after he entered the world of tradition wrestling, and executed a splendid winning fall.
  The victory prize is 45,000YTL (about 34,000 USD), an amount of money equivalent to three years of a civil servant's average salary.

The victory parade for women

  In the evening, when all programs of Kirkpinar were ended, a lot of women sat on the parade route in the town in Edirne, and gazed up the street.  They had gathered, wishing to have a look at this year's champion in the victory parade that was come.

  In general, the women hesitate to watch the game in the stadium.  The act of enjoying the sight of men fighting may be unacceptable to women of Islam.
  The champion was delaying two hours or more, because he couldn't submit a specimen to be screened for doping after the game, due to dehydration from the intense fights.
  He didn't take a gorgeous convertible, but walked from the stadium, still bare chested, wearing the gold belt on his shoulder.
  As day grew completely dark, the champion was mobbed by men giving blessings, and could hardly be seen from the place where women were.  Still, the women kept quietly, but warmly rooting, and applauding.

The previous report is here.
April 2006 kirkpinar.jp