The EventsTripping NewsBuy the Book



Oil Wrestling

You can't blame the gay fans, really.

What with all the swarthy young men in black leather breeches lubricating their half-naked opponents with olive oil and then wrestling them to their knees and ramming their hands down their pants, well, it was only a matter of time before Turkey's national sport found a camp following on the international scene.

Yet devotees of Oil Wrestling were horrified when photos of glistening, hard-bodied Turks wound up on homoerotic websites around the world. A gay group calling itself the Bears of Turkey even started advertising a bus tour for foreigners to drool over the Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Championships, a semi-sacred event that dates back to the very foundations of Turkey.

As if Oil Wrestling didn't have enough problems already.

Oil Wrestling

In recent years, Islamic hardliners have objected to the flesh-baring spectacle-particularly the 'hands-down-pants' hold-while doping scandals have undermined the sport's ultramacho image-surely Turkish wrestlers don't need to boost their sky-high testosterone levels!

Not to mention the occasional brawls-dozens of oiled-up Turks punching it out on the field-or, even worse, the lingering rumours (perpetuated by know-nothing outsiders) that the most Turkish of sports may have actually been invented by the Greeks as part of their ancient Olympic Games.

Throw in the fact that all this takes place on the cusp of the European Union, in a border town that used to be the Ottoman capital, against the current backdrop of Turkey's attempts to join the EU, and, well, there's only one reaction I could have: I've gotta go.