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Kirkpinar celebrates 650 years in style

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Kirkpinar celebrates 650 years in style

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The 650th edition of the Edime Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling and Cultural Activities festival has ended in western Turkey.

1419 wrestlers battled for the ultimate prize, which for the first time was decided on a points basis, as contests previously had gone on for hours, even days.

This has upset the purists, who prefer the tradition of fighting until the bitter end and say time limits and a points system encourage the wrestlers to be lazy but winner Ali Gürbüz doesn’t care.

The new champion was just one when his father won the title. Now it is his, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was there to present him with the Golden belt.

The event has UNESCO world heritage status, and the wrestlers are as well-known in Turkey as football stars elsewhere.

The rules will be looked at again before next year as many also agree a 30-minute limit per bout robs the event of some of its drama. However the rules were changed after President Gul visited last year and reportedly looked bored during some of the more interminable contests.