Bitter remarks hurled by a contestant in the famous Survivor Turkey TV show against Turkey’s Kırkpınar head oil wrestler, calling him a “fool” and a “drag queen,” fumigated the atmosphere with Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling festival’s master asking the head wrestler to quit the show.
“Don’t demean yourself in that show. You are Turkey’s başpehlivan [means “head oil wrestler” in English],” said Kırkpınar master Seyfettin Selim to İsmail Balaban, a contestant in the show.
The Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling originated in the 14th century Rumeli and is one of the oldest wrestling festivals in the world.
The most important actor of the competitions is traditionally called the “Kırkpınar Ağası” (Kırkpınar Master), who is responsible for inviting wrestlers, organizing matches, covering financial needs of the festival and handing out awards.
The footage showing the fight between the two contestants, İsmail Balaban and Uğurtan Dora, was broadcasted on television on March 21.
“You are a fool. You can only dance like a drag queen,” Dora remarked on Balaban, as seen in the footage.
A day later, Turkey’s Wrestling Federation issued a statement condemning the show and Balaban.
“Pehlivans” (Oil wrestlers) wrestle in Kırkpınar festivals, and the champion is declared the “başpehlivan” (head oil wrestler) of the year.
“Uğurtan Dora used ugly remarks over İsmail Balaban. Though Balaban has applied to the show with his own will, we do not accept such remarks for Turkey’s başpehlivan,” according to a statement by the federation.
“Kırkpınar oil wrestling is our ancestor sport. We openly say that we are on Balaban’s side,” it added.
Meanwhile, Selim called on Balaban to leave the show in his statement on Twitter.
“Leave the show and come back. Do not buckle under disrespectful remarks,” Selim said on March 22.
He also offered money to Balaban to quite the show, saying, “I will give you the exact money you earn from that show.”
Another başpehlivan, Abdullah Ersoy, asked the federation to step in and withdraw Balaban from the show.
Kırkpınar Festival, which was delayed last year due to the pandemic, will be held on May 16. Balaban, who is a popular contestant in the Survivor Turkey TV show, is expected to miss the festival as he will still be competing in the show.
Survivor Turkey is being shot in the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean country that occupies the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
Hurriyet Daily News