Pride of the Turkish nation: Mehmet Pehlivan of Kurtdere

"I always thought in each of my wrestling matches that the nation and honor of the nation stood behind me."


Pehlivan Mehmet of Kurtdere (1872-1939)


He was born in the Bukurova village of Selvi town of Bulgaria's Veliko Tirnova province in 1872. His family immigrated to Kurdere village of Balikesir province due to the war. Kurtdereli started wrestling when he was 19 years old. He became successful in the matches abroad, and he also won the title of head wrestler in Kirkpinar. Mehmet Pehlivan of Suyolcu notes in his memoirs that Kurtdereli was the apprentice of undefeated Pehlivan Yoruk Ali. Kurtdereli pointed to Colak Molla as his apprentice.

Pehlivan Mehmet of Kurdere held wrestling matches with Katranci Mehmet, Koca Yusuf and Adali Halil. Mehmet of Kurtdere was taken to Paris with Pehlivan Katranci Mehmet by Doublier. Doublier had also taken Koca Yusuf and his friends to Paris earlier.

He held wrestling matches with the French and Bulgarian wrestlers. He became the head wrestler of Kirkpinar in 1899 by defeating Adali Halil and Kara Osman. He went to Europe again and held matches with great wrestlers in Berlin and Paris. When he said in Ankara in 1931, "I always thought in each of my wrestling matches that the nation and honor of the nation stood behind me.", Ataturk wrote him a congratulating letter and rewarded him with 1000 lira. .....

Adali Halil was participating in wrestling matches in Berlin, and Pehlivan Mehmet of Kurtdere was participating in wrestling matches in London. Finally, they become together in a Turkish wrestling tournament in Manchester.

They were staying in the same room in a hotel. They would oppose each other in the next day's wrestling match. Adali Halil was turning in his bed and sounding voices showing his unhappiness.

Kurtdereli asked, "-Halil, are you sick?"
Adali Halil, "No, but tell me. Will our match tomorrow be real or fake?"

Kurtdereli responds, "Of course, it will be real. We are not supposed to deceive in the world of unbelievers, are we? “
Adali Halil,” I mean we are friends like brothers...”Kurtdereli,
"Brotherhood and keeping our promise to other persons are different things.
Mehmet of Kurtdere died in 1939.

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