Oil wrestling differs from regular wrestling by requiring participants to be covered in oil. This sport is traditionally held at “Proving Grounds.” It utilizes the great strength and skill which require a Turkish oil wrestler possesses in order to get a hold of their opponent. The following people are listed as the top 10 Turkish oil wrestlers of all time. They are ranked on their online popularity across a certain period of years. With this list, you can see the entire ranking of wrestlers of Turkish descent.
1: Bayram Şit (1930 – 2019)
Famed Turkish oil wrestler Bayram Şit
Bayram Şit was a wrestler and coach. He competed at the 1952 Olympics in an event known as freestyle wrestling. It is a type of wrestling that uses speed and agility. He won gold in that competition in 1952 and placed fourth in one of the weight classes for men, giving him mixed results over his Olympic career.
2: Hamit Kaplan (1934 – 1976)
Hamit Kaplan was a world and Olympic champion wrestler. He was one of the greatest in Turkish history. He won three gold medals at three consecutive Olympics for the country in 1956, 1960, and 1964. At 76 kilograms and 1.87 meters in height. He was known to be a highly skilled heavyweight wrestler with much success in defending his position while finishing half of his matches via draw. Born in Hamamözü, Amasya Province, Kaplan started wrestling when he was fifteen years old by joining the traditional Turkish sport Yağlı Güreş (oil wrestling). Soon after that, he switched to sports wrestling. It did not take long for him to become a junior champion in 1943 at the age of 16 which led him to the national team being selected in 1954.
Kaplan trained under Celal Atik who was an established figure on the Turkish wrestling scene with skills considered among the best ever exported from Turkey before World War II. Already at 22 years old, Kaplan represented Turkey at World Championships held in Karlsruhe, Germany where he ranked 3rd in a Greco-Roman-style event scoring a bronze medal that helped punch his ticket for entering high-level tournaments where other notable names like Hungarian István Kozma or Soviet Russians Aleksandr Ivanitskij.
3: Mustafa Dağıstanlı (1931 )
Mustafa Dastanlı is a retired Turkish wrestler who competed in freestyle and Greco-Roman events, most notably participating on the winning Turkish national wrestling team at the 1955 Mediterranean Games. He won a gold medal in freestyle in 1956 and 1960 and brought home silver medals in both Greco-Roman and freestyle in 1954, 1957, 1959, and 1960. In total, he was awarded 389 career wins with 4 draws at 393 matches. After his retirement from professional sports, he became part of Turkey’s political scene as Deputy of Samsun.
4: Yaşar Doğu (1913 – 1961)
Yaşar Doğu was a renowned Turkish Wrestler, World and Olympic champion in Greco-Roman and Freestyle of Circassian descent. He was recognized as the best wrestler in the world by various wrestling organizations during his lifetime, including the French Wrestling Federation, United States Wrestling Association, and International Amateur Wrestling Federation.
5: Mithat Bayrak (1929 – 2014)
Mithat Bayrak was a Turkish oil wrestler who won two consecutive championships in the Welterweight class of Men’s Greco-Roman Wrestling at the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games. Born on 3 March 1929 in Adapazarı of Sakarya Province, he began his wrestling career with Güneş Spor Club in 1948. After winning the gold medal twice, he went on to win a second gold medal at the Olympics. He stopped competing internationally after losing to Izadkhah Mardanov in 1960, emigrated to Germany, and became involved with wrestling club KSV Witten 07.
6: Tevfik Kış (1934 – 2019)
Sefik Kış was a Turkish European, World, and Olympic Champion Greco-Roman wrestler. He won the gold medal in men’s wrestling at the 1960 Olympics. Born in 1934 in the village of Pelitçik in the Kargı District, he began wrestling in 1956. Competing with Greco-Roman style, Kış became a gold medalist at the 1960 Olympics. He won later World and European championships. After his unsuccessful participation at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, he retired from active sports and served then as a trainer for his country’s national team. Kış was also a co-founder of the Turkish Wrestling Foundation and was active on its board. He was married with two children and lived in Ankara running a restaurant.
7: Taha Akgül (1990 )
Taha Akgül (born November 22, 1990, in Sivas, Turkey) is an Olympic, World, and European champion Turkish freestyle wrestler competing in the 125 kg division. He completed his master’s degree at Sivas Cumhuriyet University.
8: Hamza Yerlikaya (1976 )
Hamza Yerlikaya (born June 6, 1976, in Istanbul) is a Turkish oil wrestler and one of the most accomplished of all time. He won an Olympic gold medal in 1996 and 2000 and three World Wrestling Championships. He was also the first Turkish man to become a European champion, which was a record at the time that has since been matched by Rıza Kayaalp. His name is synonymous with wrestling in Turkey and he has a sports complex named after him in the Gaziosmanpaşa district of Istanbul.
9: Rıza Kayaalp (1989 )
Rıza Kayaalp (born 10 October 1989) is a Turkish oil wrestler. Kayaalap competes in the 130 kg division of Greco-Roman wrestling. He has won four world championships and eleven European championships and is a graduate of the Aksaray University Physical Education and Sports Academy. He studies his master’s degree at Bozok University.
10: Şeref Eroğlu (1975 )
Şeref Eroğlu is a world-renowned wrestler and six-time Olympian. He competed in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics. Şeref has also won numerous medals at the World Championships, including two gold medals (2005 and 2007) and four silver medals. After his wrestling career, Şeref transitioned into coaching and currently works as head coach of the Turkish national team.