Hamza Yerlikaya

Hamza Yerlikaya (born June 6, 1976 in Kadıköy, Istanbul) is a Turkish Graeco-Roman style wrestler. He is a two-time (in 1996 and 2000) Olympic champion, three-time World Champion (1993, 1995, and 2005), and the first Turkish wrestler to become European champion a record eight times, a feat that has since been matched by Rıza Kayaalp. He was named The Wrestler of the century in 1996 by the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA).[1]

Hamza Yerlikaya
Hamza Yerlikaya.jpg
Personal information
Born (1976-06-06) June 6, 1976 (age 44)
Kadıköy, Istanbul, Turkey
Height1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight84 kg (185 lb)
SportSport wrestling
Event(s)Greco-Roman wrestling
ClubIstanbul BB SK
Turned pro1992

A sports complex in Gaziosmanpaşa district of Istanbul is named after him.

Between 2007-2011, he was a deputy of the ruling Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi.

Early lifeEdit

His family was originally from Sivas, but they moved to Istanbul three months prior to Hamza's birth. His father Mustafa Yerlikaya is also a wrestler but was no longer active by the time Hamza was born. He started wrestling at age of 11 encouraged by his father and inspired by his elder brother Muttalip Yerlikaya who is also a wrestler with international success.

International wrestling careerEdit

Hamza Yerlikaya's first international competition was in 1991 World Cadets Wrestling Championships in Quebec, Canada, in which he got the fourth place. His first senior international event was the 1993 European Wrestling Championships in Istanbul where he got the second place, losing to Thomas Zander in the finals. He surprised some of the spectators who thought this was a coincidence by winning the gold medal in 1993 World Wrestling Championships in Stockholm, Sweden at the age of 17, and hence becoming the youngest ever World Champion in wrestling.

As his age allowed, in some years he participated in seniors, juniors as well as cadets events. He won the World Championship again in 1995 and went on to win his first Olympic gold medal in Atlanta 1996 at the age of 20. He repeated his success four years later in Sydney 2000 and carried the flag for Turkey at the Sydney 2000 opening ceremony. Since then he has won three more World Championships (2002, 2003 and (at 96 kg) 2005). He has won the European Seniors Championship eight times (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006).

He competed in 84 kg Men's Greco-Roman Wrestling for Turkey in 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece and placed 4th.

In April 2007, he withdrew from international competition due to emergency surgery to correct neck fractures, some of which were estimated to have been as much as four years old and never treated. [1]

Affiliations and coachingEdit

  • Between years 1986-1996 he was in Istanbul Demirspor club and was coached by Salih Bora and Muzaffer Aydin.
  • He did his military service in 1996-1997 and is the only Turkish athlete that won a medal in Olympic Games during military service.
  • He was coached by Salih Bora since 1997.
  • In years 1998-1999 he was in Emlakbank club.
  • Since 1999 he is wrestling for Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
  • Hakki Basar started coaching him in 2004.

Major international achievementsEdit

In reverse chronological order:

All listed events are Greco-Roman style wrestling.

External links and referencesEdit


  1. ^ General Books LLC (2010). Turkish Sport Wrestlers: Hamza Yerlikaya.