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."
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.
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
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.
"-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
"Brotherhood and keeping our promise to other persons are
Mehmet of Kurtdere died in 1939.