The Golden Belt of Kirkpinar

  • Photography  Murat Sinici
  • Words  Murat Sinici

Photography and words: Murat Sinici

The reason as to why I have photographed this great event is rooted within my childhood. I am originally from the south west of Turkey: the region where you will find the best figs, olives and olive oils, and the region best known for its great oil wrestlers. Most wrestlers are people from the villages, who usually work on farms or in the cotton fields during the summer. Olives are grown in these very hot summers, and in some regions, in the harsh, dry winters: perhaps this is the reason why the wrestlers are so strong.

Wrestling in Turkey starts in the streets, in schools, in half terms, and in people’s back yards. Parents encourage their kids to take part and to learn to be strong. I think its fair to say that this unique sport is very culturally rooted, and pride is everything.

As a kid growing up in this great environment I too, along with my brother, was once a wrestler. But this was only a brief period of our teenage years, so I guess this is why I have gone back to Turkey again and again, until one day I decided to photograph the event for my own records.

I love this game because it was part of my childhood. Tackling your friend, making sure his back is touching the ground, and thinking that one day, you could be crowned with the golden belt of Kirkpinar.

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Images © Murat Sinici