Their Fame Spread All Over the World

These wrestlers were real heroes showing the power of the Turks to the world who were not beaten in the wrestling field. Kirkpinar lived the brightest and most glorious days during the time of these wrestlers. Kirkpinar became a legend. These wrestlers who became famous for their wrestling capabilities as well as their bravery took their well deserved place in the history of Kirkpinar.

Famous Wrestlers of Kirkpinar


There are many unforgettable wrestlers in the history of Kirkpinar who enchanted fans of wrestling with their superior strengths and knowledge of the tricks of wrestling. These wrestler also won the hearts of fans of the oil wrestling.  Kel Hasan of Yozgat province who was one of the head wrestlers during the rule of Sultan Mahmut II and participated in the Navarin Sea war as a seaman. He was one of the oil wrestlers whose fame reached to our times.

Kazikci Karabekir of Akkoyunlu district became one of the famous oil wrestlers after Sultan Abdulaziz ascended to the ottoman throne in 1861. Kazikci Karabekir had fought earlier as a gunnery private in the Sevastopol war (1854-1855). Kazikci Kara bekir's match with Arnavutoglu Ali ended in tie. Following this match, Kazikci Kara Bekir defeated Kavasoglu and became the head wrestler of Kirkpinar.

Oil wrestler Arnavutoglu Ali of Cambaz Village of Kastamonu Province was also one of the famous oil wrestlers of Kirkpinar. Arnavutoglu was taken to Sultan's palace when Sultan Abdul Aziz was a prince (1839-1861). He became the head wrestler of Kirkpinar in 1860. In contrast to heavier wrestlers of his time, wrestler Ali's weight was 80-85 kg. He was known as a smart and skillful wrestler. He was nicknamed "Arnavutoglu" (the son of Albanian) for selling candies in Greece when he was young. He had no relation with Albania. This great oil wrestler wrestled until 42 years old without being defeated, and retired from wrestling.

The first pomak wrestler of Kirkpinar, Kavasoglu Koca ibrahim was born in 1830's. He was one of the very large built oil wrestlers. He was taken to the Sultan's palace during the rule of Sultan Abdul Aziz. He worked as the head of candlestick makers in the palace, and he also continued wrestling. Kavasoglu was noted as being 15 years younger than Pehlivan Arnavutoglu Ali. Pehlivan Kavasoglu brought Kel Alico (Ruthless Bald Alico) and Kara Bo to the palace in order not to give head wrestler title to any other person except Pomaks. These three unique pehlivans were relative of each other. Kavasoglu was 1.90 m. tall, and weighed 150 kg. The head of candlestick makers Pehlivan Kara Ibo was greatly admired by Pehlivan Koca Yusuf. He was also one of the head wrestlers of Sultan Abdul Aziz. Pehlivan Kara Ibo was very handsome and strong. He worked as the head of candlestick makers in the palace. Pehlivan Kara Ibo went to Paris with Sultan Abdul Aziz. He fell in love with Arziniyaz, a concubine of Sultan Abdul Aziz. Pehlivan Kara Ibo fell down with a deathly illness. According to some claims, he was poisoned to death by Sultan Abdul Aziz.

The greatest name of Kirkpinar oil wrestling tournament was certainly Kel Alico (Ruthless Bald Alico) of Plevne. Kel Alico became head wrestler of Kirkpinar for 27 years in a row. If gold belt were given to wrestlers who became champions in Kirkpinar for three years in a row, Kel Alico would have received 9 gold belts. Kel Alico, who continued oil wrestling until 1885, was one of the head wrestlers carried the head wrestler title in Kirkpinar together with Samdancibasi Kara Ibo and Makarnaci. Pehlivan Mehmet of Suyolcu narrated that Alico was "Ruthless".

Pehlivan Makarnaci Hussein was related to defeat Kel Alico in the presence of Sultan Abdul Aziz. He worked as the head of servants caring for the birds. Makarnaci was a pehlivan trained in Kirkpinar.

In addition to this giant pehlivans, pehlivans such as Hamlaci  KAYISOGLU, Hamlaci Sari Hussein, Hamlaci Mustafa, Danaci Senior, Danaci Junior, Karagoz Ali, Pomak Deli Murat, Abdurrahman of Has Ahir, Kara Ahmet of Deliosmanli, Zeynel of Has Ahirli, Master of Koca Yusuf Pamukculu or Pamuk Osman and Pehlivan Mehmet of Suyolcu seeked championship in Kirkpinar.

In the years when Koca Yusuf became "The emperor of Wrestling", oil wrestlers such as Abdul Halil (Adali Halil) who was an apprentice of Kel Alico, Filiz Nurullah, Kara Ahmet, Mehmet of Kurtdereli, Koca Rustem of Bursa and Katranci were the most famous oil wrestlers.

Pehlivan Mehmet of Suyolcu notes in his memoirs that he was the apprentice of Pehlivan Yoruk Ali. Pehlivan Mehmet of Suyolcu notes that Colak Mullah Mumin Hodja was his apprentice. According to Suyolcu, Mumin hodja was the only pehlivan who defeated Koca Yusuf in an oil wrestling match around Rami. Mullah Mumin Hodja was killed at a young age. Yusuf Mehmet of Tophane (Yusuf the little) was also one of the best wrestlers in the area of Koca Yusuf. Yusuf Mehmet of Tophane defeated Kara Ahmet in 3 minutes, but he could not become famous outside Kirkpinar.

Adali Halil (Abdul Halil) was born in 1867 on an island in the river Meric in Edirne. He acquired wrestling skills from the master of masters Kel Alico. He was 1.88 m. tall and around 129 kg. He was also becoming ruthless just like his master, Kel Alico when the wrestling match became intense. Adali Halil was one of our three oil wrestlers who participated and won many wrestling matches in Europe and USA. Adali Halil, his fame as "The lion of the Sultan" spread in USA, was a wrestler equal to the greatness of Koca Yusuf. He was one of the most known wrestlers of the generation called as strong as a Turk. The oil-man of Adali, Pasha Mustafa, mentioned the wrestling fans that he hadn't seen a wrestler equal to Adali Halil. Pasha Mustafa who was 80 years old in 1960's had started to work as oil-man in Kirkpinar in 1900's. It was narrated by elders that Pasha Mustafa had described Adali in the following way: Adali was a wrestler with a broad back. He was like a philosopher. He never wanted to extend the time of the wrestling match, and he wanted to defeat his opponents as soon as possible. Pasha Mustafa also noted that he had never seen a wrestler who could make special wrestling moves better than Adali Halil.

Another legend of the oil wrestling was Filiz Nurullah of Sumnu (Biyikli Village). He was also called Haci Filiz, and he was born in 1870. His full name was Ali Nurullah Hasan. He was 2.02 meters tall and weighed 150 kg. He participated in many wrestling matches in Europe and USA. He was also forced not to participate in many matches in Europe and USA due to his huge body. In the words of a French physical education teacher named Desbounet, “Just the standing of Haci Filiz in hall was enough to shake the entire hall ".

Haci Filiz became the champion in the Gold Belt wrestling tournaments in France. He also participated in wrestling matches in Petersburg and London. Filiz went to Paris for the first time with Koca Yusuf and Kara Osman of Plovdiv and drew attention with his huge body. Haci Filiz's admiration for pehlivan Koca Yusuf was in a degree of worshipping.


ibrahim Mahmut of Deliorman was almost in the same age with Koca Yusuf. He was known as Hergeleci ibrahim. He was nicknamed Hergeleci as he was a trainer of wild horses. His father and he were selling goods carried by mules. Hergeleci was 1.85 meters tall and weighed around 100 kg. Hergeleci was known in Turkish wrestling as the wrestler who knew the greatest number of wrestling moves. When none of the wrestlers in Paris could defeat Koca Yusuf, Hergeleci was brought to Paris as Koca Yusuf's opponent. The match among Koca Yusuf and Hergeleci in Paris was ended without any winner in the half time of the match. Hergeleci was magnificent wrestler. Although he could not defeat Koca Yusuf, He tied with Adali Halil who was the apprentice of Kel Alico in Bascinar, Salonika. He defeated Adali Halil in Corlu. Hergeleci learned the art of wrestling from Deli Hafiz of Torlakli. This famous wrestler died in 1923 and buried near the grave of his master in Sanmase Village of Derbent town of izmit.

Hergeleci ibrahim was the master of Kara Ahmet who became world wrestling champion in Paris in 1989.

Memis of Tekirdag was one of famous wrestlers of Kirkpinar. A song with the words "Memis of Tekirdag, mothers did not see a lion like him" was written about Memis of Tekirdag. He was born in Deliorman in 1869. He was 1.92 meters tall and weighed 120 kg. His photos taken in Paris, Sweden, London and Berlin were taken to newspaper called Tercuman by his son. Hovewer, these photos were lost in later years.

Kara Ahmet, apprentice of Hergeleci ibrahim, was born in Hazergrad in 1870. He was 1.88 meters tall, and weighed around 100 kg. He became World Champion in Paris in 1899, and became champion of champions a year later. His match with Paul Pons lasted for seven hours and the match tied. Before the match, Ahmet had told the jury that if the match would end in a draw, he would become champion of champions. The jury had accepted Ahmet's offer. As a result, He became the champion of champions. Ahmet faced Russian wrestler Pytlajinski in three matches. He lost one of this matches. Following his second match which ended in half time without any winner, he defeated Pytlajinski in just fifty eight seconds in his third match.

Kara Ahmet married a French girl named Juliette and returned to Istanbul. He died of brain hemorrhage at a young age in May 24, 1902. Kara Ahmet was not as good as Koca Yusuf in oil wrestling.

Kara Osman, Arab Sait, Koca Rustem of Bursa, Yasar the Senior, Yasar ismail, Cakir of Kepsutlu were famous wrestlers of , Yusuf and Mehmet of Kurtdereli's areas.

The following names can be counted as famous head wrestlers after Koca Yusuf: Kiyici Osman, Tamburaci Osman Pehlivan, Sumnulu Mestan, Kara Mustafa, Salim, Hüseyin Selim, Kara Mehmet, Koc Mehmet, Mehmet Efendi, Mandirali Ahmet, Koca Hasan, Murat Ali, Neset, Hüsmen, Koc Ali, Recep Pengal, Salih Süleyman, Tevfik Ali, ibrahim Gazi, Kizilcikli Mahmut, Kara Ali, Mustafa Ahmet, Kara Safi, Rasim and Hüseyin.

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