Ban Lifted on Turkish Wrestler Suspended for Racism

Riza Kayaalp
Riza Kayaalp

The International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) has lifted the ban on Turkish Wrestler and Olympic Bronze medal holder Riza Kayaalp who was suspended for a period of six months from participating in any wrestling tournaments for alleged racism against the Gezi protesters, Greeks, and Armenians. During the Gezi Park protests, it was reported that Kayaalp allegedly aired many offensive and derogatory remarks on the social networking site Twitter, insulting the protesters as traitors. His tweets included messages such as “You left the ground to Armenians, God punish you damn chapulliers [looters],” and “Armenian people are celebrating that they have occupied Taksim square and insulted Turkey easily”. Subsequently, many complaints were filed with FILA and The International Olympics Council (IOC). However, the chairman of the Turkish Wrestling Federation, Hamza Yerlikaya told the Associated Press on Aug. 14 that Kayaalp’s ban has been temporarily removed and thus he will take part in the world championships in Hungary next month.

The appeal for the removal of the ban by the Turkish federation was on the insistence that there is no evidence that Kayaalp had posted the insulting and racist tweets attributed to him. It also argued that the wrestler was not given the opportunity to defend himself. However, according to Hurriyet Daily News, after controversy erupted, the tweets were deleted but Kayaalp indirectly admitted to posting them when he spoke to the state-run Anadolu Agency, where he said he was “misunderstood” and said his tweets were about people who were engaged in destructive acts.

The Turkish Wrestling body is accusing a third party for posting the offensive tweets. “There are neither any findings nor documents nor complaining parties nor official evidence to ground these allegations. But he is receiving a penalty. There is something unlawful here. Our kinds have no racist speech here. These are tweets sent by third parties. It is not even that certain” stated Yerlikaya. He assured journalists that in case any evidence of racism is found against Kayaalp, he would be the first to issue penalties.

“We will not have our kid wasted. We are behind him. We believe in his innocence profoundly. Therefore, we will take whatever legal action possible,” concluded Yerlikaya.

Bianet reports that Kayaalp was recently chosen as the flag holder athlete for Turkey in the opening ceremony of Mediterranean Games—an international Olympic event that is hosted by Turkey this year.


Varak Ketsemanian

Varak Ketsemanian is a graduate of the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the University of Chicago’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies (2014-2016). His master’s thesis titled “Communities in Conflict: the Hunchakian Revolutionary Party 1890-1894” examines the socio-economic role of violence in shaping inter-communal and ethnic relations by doing a local history of the Armenian Revolutionary Movement in the Ottoman Empire. Ketsemanian’s work tackles problems such as the development and polarization of mainstream historiographies, inter-communal stratifications, nationalism, and the relationship of the Ottoman State with some of its Anatolian provinces. He is currently completing a PhD at Princeton University, where his doctoral dissertation will focus on the social history of the National Constitution of Ottoman Armenians in 1863, and the communal dynamics/mechanisms that it created on imperial, communal, and provincial levels. Ketsemanian’s research relates to the development of different forms of nationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries, revolutionary violence, and constitutional movements.


  1. What a wonderful world it is when just about everything is a third party’s fault. This racist fool does not even have the courage to stand behind his words. His place should have been the prison for spreading hate not a single sports event.

    • That is a ridiculous suggestion: you cannot collectively punish everybody in Turkey, because their official and majority-societal AG denialism.
      There are millions of Turks and Turkish citizens who actively work against denialists in Turkey: what if some of them are athletes also.
      This young musclehead should have been banned for a few years for sure. But what did other Turkish athletes have to do with him ?
      Believe or not, the 1936 Summer Olympics was held in Nazi Germany.
      Nazis even tried to ban Jews or Blacks from participating.

  2. It is a shame that Turkish Federation does not make this guy apologize from the Armenian people and Gezi protestors. He will surely be suspended sooner or later but the hate speech he gave was unforgivable, especially for a sportsperson. We are proud of everyone supports peace in Turkey, Armenian brothers and sisters too.

    • Given the government’s attitude towards Gezi protest and protesters I don’t think they will do anything about this guy.

  3. I no longer have any expectations from Turkish sports federations after the football federation absolved Fenerbahce and other clubs after Turkish courts found them guilty on multiple accouts of match fixing. They looked at court verdicts and convictions and simply said this is not valid. That’s Turkey in a nutshell for you.

  4. I would suggest this young man is either of Armenian or Greek background. Look at his face. Which part of Turkey is he from or his grandparents? This type of racism is something that is all about denial, denial, denial

    • How many Armenians have you met in your life necati. Actually that’s an interesting question. Have you met or known any Armenians in person? What has been your experience with Armenians in the real world?

  5. Shocking, I don’t think so, Fat Boy’s tweets are a result of 100 years of racism instilled by the Turkish Government & their parents who raised him.

    And yes , their parents & grandparents who raised them. Have the Turkish people faced truth & apologized for their atrocities done to the Armenian People.

    • You know nothing other then the typical poor conquering Turk. Hates it when the people they oppress fight back.

  6. @necati: so according to you anyone who respects the Armenians in Turkey is an Armenian. I don’t think so as there are some real human beings also in Turkey. I wish there were more like Umut Yiğit and it is a big shame that people like him don’t represent the majority in Turkey.

    • I like the “humanism” game you ermenians sometimes play here in AW .

      Actually we all know the real face of Tashnaksutyun…

    • necati,

      My family died by the real face of Turkey for the Turks. And that real face is still under the surface. And you’re keeping it alive.

    • Were all those racist and hateful comments about Armenians in the Turkish press all these decades written by Armenians too? Was it an Armenian who killed Hrant Dink?

      There is a history of negative and hateful views of Armenians in Turkey since its founding. And that has fostered the attitude we see from this athlete.

  7. Necati,
    I wonder what would be the level of your education in Turkic world??

    Don’t tell me, that were high on your raki, melon and cheese again. Your Islamist darker president, Abdullah Gul, may put you in jail for ever!!

  8. @Necati: I have both Turkish and Armenian blood and I seriously get ashamed of my Turkish part when I realize the existence of such bad jokes of nature as you. Really explain to us what kind of satisfaction you get from this mental and verbal war that you are having with Armenians or isn’t it just mental and verbal but physical too such as attacking elderly Armenian ladies?

    • “attacking elderly Armenian ladies?”

      You did not read it was an armenian man who killed 5 poor elder women in Samatya ?

      Read more. Not only news but a little history.

    • Yes, Nilly: read a little history for sure.

      The suspect, Murat Nazaryan, has recanted his ‘confession’, and claims it was obtained under “psychological oppression.” (read: the usual Turkish methods of ‘solving’ crimes by torture).
      Then there is the fact that the investigation has been sealed: why the secrecy if it is an ordinary murder case ?
      What are the cops hiding ?
      Didn’t witnesses say there were two people in the initial assaults: one guy waiting in the street, while the other guy went to commit the crime ?
      And did Nazaryan also assault victim Markırıt Camkosoğlu, 80-year –old Armenian woman who was viciously attacked and robbed last August, 2013 ?
      How did he manage to that from his jail cell.
      Even if Nazaryan was somehow involved in the initial assaults and murder, he is nothing more than patsy, a fall guy.
      A psychologically damaged tool, used by the real Turk criminals to hide their tracks.
      Same as the murderer of Hrant Dink.
      Fascist Anti-Armenian Turk organizers are still walking around free.

  9. Nilly,
    We are dealing here with a psychopath representing the most degenerted layer of human race. Should not take him too seriously, he needs specialist help.

  10. Random,

    Sorry to hear that you lost your family, no matter for what reason. I would not get happy on a death of a civilian unlike some of you ermenians did last year when 25 innocent young Turkish boys were killed by kurdish terrorists. Do remember Avery .

    I met not too many. It is anthropology saying that greeks, kürts, and armenians are generally of darker skin color than real ethnic Turks.

    Seriously, dont you see the hatred, ultra-nationalism inside the armenians writing in here AW? You blinded by the partly armenian blood in your veins ?

  11. while necatis commnets somtimes constitues to racism i dont think thre is much diffrence between him and 90 percent of armenians posting here, all i see hate towards turks, i have met young armenian in jersey afew years back, he was one of the nicest person alive,

    • not at all, anton. not “hate” towards ordinary turks but righteous indignation towards the denialist and unrepentant turkish state. these are two different things. besides, what feeling would you have if all of your people were slaughtered, raped, mutilated or forcibly deported and their ancestral land and properties stolen? love and affection?

  12. @berj,i know what hate is when i see it,name callings belittling turks trying to portray turks as barbarians, sometimes some of you even uses the word “turk” as an insult, i dont know if necati was this way from the beginning but i think you guys shaped him and his opinions great deal:) now to your question i understand the fraustration on your part but what armenians want and what turkey can provide is totally diffrent you need to make some compromises on that, the question you asked is open to discussion and my comment wont be posted if i answer

  13. Necati, when you say that I should read more about history I assume you mean the revised Turkish history. Well, no thanks – I grew up in Istanbul and at school I had to read enough of those official Turkish history books. When it comes to the history of the Christian minorities in Turkey I prefer listening to real life stories like my grandfather’s story of deportation from Trabzon when he was only 14 years old. The story of my great-grandmother who was kidnapped by a Turkish cavalier in Erzincan when 13 years old is also an interesting bit of history. I suggest you mingle with some Armenians and Greeks and listen to their history. Just for insight and grasp of reality.

  14. Anton
    You engage in clear sophistry. What Armenians want is recognition of Genocide and an end to the policy of denial. Is that too much? We know Turkey does not have the courage to do that, But that’s Turkey’s problem not Armenians’. We don’t need apologists like you to preach us compromise, go and direct your sermons to the denialsts and and real hate-mongers. Then you will be in a less rediculous position.

    What you say on Nejati shows either you are a new-comer to these pages or else, you angage engage in sophistry.
    This scum is pretty famous for most of the readership of these pages and everyone knows why he’s here and what he is up to. That’s why many who know him don’t take him seriously. His presence here serves only to make it clear to those Turks with some common sense who the real enemies of their country is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.