Koca Yusuf

Milli Güreşçi, Sporcu

Ölüm
04 Temmuz, 1898

Wrestler, world oil wrestling champion (B. 1856, Shumen / Bulgaria - D. July 4th, 1898, Atlantic Ocean). Yusuf, who was one of the legendary names of wrestling, gained the name “Koca (Big)” with his 154 kg body, wrestling skills, strength and morality. He was given the name “Koca” later by the philosopher Rıza Tevfik.

Koca Yusuf started wrestling in his young ages as an apprentice of Nasuhçulu Kel İsmail Pehlivan, was one of the well-known wrestlers of the time. He wrestled with Kel Aliço, who was the Kırkpınar wrestling champion for years. He beat Adalı Halil successively for two times. He participated in several wrestling tournaments in Sultan Abdülaziz, Sultan V. Murat and Sultan II. Abdülhamit periods.

He went to Europe in 1897 and learned the rules of mat wrestling in Paris. He beat all significant wrestlers of the time including Olsen, Pons, Fournier and Sebes. After having earned reputation in Europe, he got an invitation from USA and went there. He won all the competitions he participated. He also beat the famous Jenkins and the USA champion Robert. Robert had boasted against an audience of almost 20 thousand people saying “I’m gonna knock this Turk down!” However, while wrestling, Koca Yusuf threw Robert outside the mat and Robert could not dare to return back. Koca Yusuf was named as “The Terrible Turk” for being unbeaten and his grandeur.

Koca Yusuf set off with La Bourgogne transatlantic having a French flag on May 21st, 1898 to return back to Turkey. The ship collided with Crmartyshire cargo carrier having an Irish flag in the morning of July 4th, 60 miles offshore near Sable Island in the northeast of New York, and sunk. He got drowned together with all the passengers and crew. His body was lost in the Atlantic Ocean. A tragic event took place on the ship. Koca Yusuf was trying to get onto a metal piece when the passenger on the metal piece started hitting him with sticks, having thought that they would get drowned if he got on the metal piece. Seeing that it did not work, one of the passengers cut Koca Yusuf’s hands with an axe, letting him get drowned in the Atlantic Ocean.

His name was given to a 40 ton floating crane which is now at the Haliç Dockyard under the control of Turkey Maritime Organization.

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