Oil wrestling practiced with devotion in Greece

Massive men with olive oil-slathered torsos saunter around a grass sports field that becomes a wrestling ring with religious overtones during an annual festival in northern Greece blending traditions both ancient and modern.

Many of the strutting athletes on display compete in regular tournaments. But every year on June 30, fighters assemble in the field in Sochos, a small town about 60 kilometers northeast of Thessaloniki, for a different kind of match.

Here, the competitors wear knee-length leather trousers known as a "kiouspeti," which can weigh up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds).

The oil covering their upper bodies has the dual purpose of minimizing injuries from holds and making it harder to throw a rival back-down on the ground, the goal of the game.

The practice of wrestling clad in leather trousers and oil dates to the Ottoman Empire, and the...

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