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Yaşar Erkan: Pioneer of Turkish Olympic Wrestling Glory

Yaşar Erkan, a name etched in the chronicles of Turkish sports history, became the first athlete to bestow a gold medal upon the Republic of Türkiye at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, achieving Olympic glory as a national wrestler.

Born in 1912 in Erzincan, Erkan’s family relocated to Istanbul when he was just 4 years old.

It was in the bustling city of Istanbul that his journey into the world of wrestling commenced at the Kumkapı Wrestling Club.

In 1933, a watershed moment in Erkan’s life arrived as he earned his place on the national wrestling team.

His journey to greatness was marked by his victory as the Balkan champion that same year.

Remarkably, Erkan would go on to clinch the Balkan Championships for three consecutive years, paving the way for his historic achievement at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

In the men’s Greco-Roman, 61 kg. final, Erkan displayed unwavering determination and unmatched skill, earning the coveted gold medal.

This triumph not only crowned him an Olympic champion but also made him the very first Olympic champion in the history of the Republic of Türkiye.

Trailblazing legacy

Following Erkan, another Turkish national wrestler, Ahmet Kirecci, showcased his prowess as well, securing a well-deserved bronze medal in the same competition.

Following his retirement from wrestling in 1940, Erkan contributed to his beloved sport by serving as a coach in the Turkish National Wrestling Team.

His legacy endures, and his indomitable spirit lives on.

Wrestling holds a special place in the heart of Türkiye, a discipline in which the nation has consistently excelled in the Olympics.

Turkish wrestlers have contributed 66 of the 104 medals amassed by Türkiye in its Olympic history.

With 29 gold, 18 silver and 19 bronze medals in the Olympic Games, Turkish wrestlers have written their own chapter in Türkiye’s Olympic story.

Türkiye’s overall medal count in the Olympics stands at an impressive 104, comprising 41 gold, 27 silver and 36 bronze medals, a testament to the nation’s dedication to the spirit of sportsmanship.

The legacy of Yaşar Erkan, the trailblazer of Turkish Olympic success, inspires generations of athletes and wrestling enthusiasts.

Source : Daily Sabah

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