Oil wrestling can be traced back to the ancient Sumer and Babylon. Greco-Roman traditions also point to the practice of oil wrestling.
Wrestlers oil one another prior to matches as a demonstration of balance and mutual respect. If a man defeats an older opponent, he kisses the latter's hand (a sign of respect for elders in Turkey).
There are some organized oil wrestling competitions outside Turkey, particularly by the Royal Dutch Power Sport Federation (KNKF Koninklijke Nederlandse Krachtsport en Fitnessfederatie) in the Netherlands.