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Discover the pulse of Turkey, a nation with a rich sporting heritage!

Not just famous for its cuisine and history, Turkey is also passionate about sports.

Soccer undoubtedly rules the roost, but what other sports captivate Turkish hearts?

Explore the 11 most popular sports in Turkey in our list.

Most Popular Sports in Turkey:

  1. Soccer
  2. Basketball
  3. Volleyball
  4. Wrestling
  5. Athletics
  6. Motorsports
  7. Weightlifting
  8. Tennis
  9. Handball
  10. Judo
  11. Swimming

#1 Soccer

  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkey: 1890s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Turkey: Hakan Şükür (Turkish)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Turkey: 4 Million

Soccer, passionately followed by millions, is the most popular sport in Turkey. The nation’s love for the game is evident in packed stadiums and fervent fan bases.

The Süper Lig is Turkey’s top-tier soccer league, featuring intense competition between clubs, particularly the “Big Three”: Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe, and Galatasaray. Hakan Şükür, a legendary Turkish striker, is a national icon. His unforgettable goal just 11 seconds into a match at the 2002 World Cup remains etched in soccer history.

Turkish soccer not only fosters intense rivalries but also camaraderie among fans, making it an integral part of the country’s culture and identity.

#2 Basketball

Basketball
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkey: 1940s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Turkey: Hedo Türkoğlu (Turkish)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Turkey: 500,000

Basketball holds steadfast as the second most popular sport in Turkey. The country has consistently produced high-quality players and embraced the sport enthusiastically.

The Turkish Basketball Super League (BSL) showcases top-level domestic basketball, and Turkish clubs often participate in European competitions like EuroLeague. Hedo Türkoğlu, an NBA star and former president of the Turkish Basketball Federation, has paved the way for numerous aspiring players.

From local tournaments to international championships, Turkey’s basketball landscape is growing and thriving, with an ever-increasing fan base.

volleyball
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkey: 1920s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Turkey: Neslihan Demir (Turkish)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Turkey: 300,000

Volleyball stands tall as a beloved sport in Turkey, especially amongst women. The country’s volleyball teams have displayed exceptional performances in both domestic and international arenas.

The Turkish Women’s Volleyball League (TVF) has grown tremendously, with clubs like VakıfBank and Eczacıbaşı dominating the scene. Neslihan Demir, an iconic Turkish volleyball player, has inspired countless young athletes with her outstanding career and leadership.

With its increasing popularity and competitive leagues, volleyball’s significance in Turkey’s sporting culture is indisputable, fostering a sense of pride and unity among fans.

#4 Wrestling

Wrestling
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkey: Ancient Times
  • 🌟Most Famous Wrestler from Turkey: Rıza Kayaalp (Turkish)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Wrestlers in Turkey: 50,000

Wrestling, rooted deep in Turkish history, remains an important traditional sport in the country. Offering an intriguing blend of strength, technique, and heritage, it has embedded itself into Turkey’s identity.

Oil wrestling, known as “Yağlı Güreş,” is a uniquely Turkish sport with annual competitions like the Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Tournament. Rıza Kayaalp, a world champion and Olympic medalist, exemplifies Turkey’s prowess in wrestling.

Honoring its ancient roots, wrestling is an integral part of Turkey’s sporting scene, providing a fascinating link between the nation’s history and present-day sporting achievements.

#5 Athletics

Half marathon
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkey: Ancient Times
  • 🌟 Most Famous Athlete from Turkey: Aslı Çakır Alptekin (Turkish)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Athletics Enthusiasts in Turkey: 500,000

Athletics, the foundation of numerous sporting events, holds a significant place in Turkey’s sporting culture. The country has produced outstanding athletes who have achieved national and international acclaim.

Turkish athletes often compete on the international stage, participating in global events such as the Olympics and World Championships. Aslı Çakır Alptekin, a renowned Turkish middle-distance runner, secured a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics, highlighting the nation’s athletic prowess.

Athletics in Turkey transcends individual disciplines, fostering an atmosphere of perseverance, dedication, and excellence across a wide range of sports.

#6 Motorsports

Motorcycle Racing
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkey: 20th Century
  • 🌟Most Famous Motorsport Athlete from Turkey: Kenan Sofuoğlu (Turkish)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Motorsports Enthusiasts in Turkey: 1 Million

Motorsports have steadily risen in popularity in Turkey, with a variety of racing categories attracting fans and participants alike. The thrilling combination of speed, skill, and cutting-edge technology has made motorsports an exhilarating spectacle.

Turkey hosts prestigious racing events, such as the Turkish Grand Prix and Rally of Turkey. Kenan Sofuoğlu, a five-time World Supersport Champion, has earned international fame and recognition for his prowess on two wheels.

As more racers emerge and the Turkish motorsport scene continues to flourish, the adrenaline-filled world of racing is enthralling audiences and enthusiasts across the nation.

#7 Weightlifting

Weightlifting
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkey: Early 20th Century
  • 🌟Most Famous Weightlifter from Turkey: Naim Süleymanoğlu (Turkish)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Weightlifters in Turkey: 50,000

Weightlifting carries a strong presence in Turkey, with the country boasting numerous accomplished athletes in the sport. Combining raw power with technique, weightlifting offers a captivating display of physical prowess.

Turkish weightlifters have shone on the global stage, competing in events such as the World Weightlifting Championships and Olympics. Naim Süleymanoğlu, nicknamed “Pocket Hercules,” is a legendary figure in Turkish sports and a three-time Olympic gold medalist.

The sport’s history in Turkey showcases the nation’s heritage of strength, determination, and success, cultivating an environment of inspiration and aspiration for future generations.

#8 Tennis

Tennis
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkey: Early 20th Century
  • 🌟Most Famous Tennis Player from Turkey: İpek Soylu (Turkish)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Tennis Players in Turkey: 100,000

Tennis in Turkey has enjoyed a steady rise in popularity, both in terms of participation and viewership. The sport’s elegant nature and test of stamina and strategy make it an engaging pastime for participants and fans alike.

The country hosts notable tennis events such as the Istanbul Open, a part of the ATP and WTA tours. Young talents like İpek Soylu, a promising Turkish female player, are paving the way for an even brighter future for Turkish tennis.

With its elegant charm and athletic appeal, tennis continues to captivate Turkey’s sporting scene, evolving from a niche pastime to a cherished sport across the country.

#9 Handball

European Handball
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkey: Mid-20th Century
  • 🌟Most Famous Handball Player from Turkey: Ramazan Döne (Turkish)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Handball Players in Turkey: 20,000

Handball has gained popularity in Turkey as an exciting, fast-paced team sport that tests agility, teamwork, and perseverance. The game continues to evolve as an enticing prospect for sports enthusiasts in the country.

Turkey participates in international handball competitions, such as the European Handball Championships and the World Handball Championships. Ramazan Döne, a key player for Turkey’s national handball team, serves as a role model for aspiring players in the country.

Handball is gradually carving out its niche in Turkey’s sports landscape, with passionate fans and committed athletes working together to further the sport’s growth and recognition.

#10 Judo

Judo
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkey: 20th Century
  • 🌟Most Famous Judoka from Turkey: Bekir Özlü (Turkish)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Judokas in Turkey: 15,000

Judo has emerged as a popular martial art and sport in Turkey over the years, attracting individuals looking to build discipline, strength, and technical prowess. The sport holds a special place in the heart of Turkish martial arts enthusiasts.

Turkey regularly participates in international judo competitions, including the European Judo Championships and the World Judo Championships. Bekir Özlü, with his European Championship silver medal and other accolades, has played a pivotal role in popularizing judo in the country.

As more young talents embrace judo, the sport continues to develop a strong following in Turkey and significantly impacts the country’s martial arts scene.

#11 Swimming

Open water swimming
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Turkey: Early 20th Century
  • 🌟Most Famous Swimmer from Turkey: Derya Büyükuncu (Turkish)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Swimmers in Turkey: 500,000

Swimming holds a significant place in Turkey’s sports culture, both in competitive arenas and recreational settings. The country’s picturesque coastlines and numerous indoor swimming facilities provide ample opportunities for enthusiasts to dive into the sport.

Turkish swimmers regularly compete in international events like the FINA World Championships, the European Championships, and the Olympics. Pioneering swimmers like Derya Büyükuncu, a six-time Olympian and multiple record holder, have inspired a new generation of Turkish athletes to make a splash in the sport.

With its numerous health benefits and competitive edge, swimming is gaining ever-growing popularity in Turkey and enriching the nation’s sporting landscape.

FAQ

What is the most popular sport in Turkey?

Soccer, also known as football, is the most popular sport in Turkey, deeply rooted in the country’s culture and followed by millions, with passionate support for local clubs and the national team.

What is the national sport of Turkey?

The national sport of Turkey is soccer (football), which holds a significant place in the country’s cultural and sporting traditions, and is enjoyed by a vast majority of the population.

What are the most watched sports in Turkey?

The most watched sports in Turkey include soccer (football), basketball, volleyball, wrestling, athletics, motorsports, weightlifting, tennis, judo, swimming, and handball, with each sport having significant viewership and fan bases throughout the country.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning ‘real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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