Turkish MMA champion still collecting rubbish from the street

Turkish mixed martial arts (MMA) champion Kadir Dalkıran is still collecting rubbish off the street to be able to survive on a day-to-day basis, sports newspaper Fanatik said.

Dalkıran, aged 19, beat a Russian rival to win an international tournament in the southern Turkish city of Antalya in March 2017 in which around 1,000 participants from more than 30 countries participated, and became champion in the lightweight category.

But he is unable to afford any of the supplements that usually give professional athletes a competitive edge as he collects scrap paper and cardboard from the street for around 30–40 liras ($8-$11) a day in his hometown of Yalova to survive.

“As a result, we find it difficult to fill our stomachs with this money, let alone live like a champion,” he said.

Pop singer Demet Akalın had given the young sportsman some money to help him out, his coach İbrahim Yıldız told the newspaper, but he needed sponsorship to remain fighting fit and be able to go to overseas events.

“We would like our voices heard by our statesmen,” Yıldız said. “We want them to look out for this sport. We have other colleagues like Kadir who are trying to play this sport under difficult conditions. Kadir is still at the start of his career. By the end he will have the chance to prove himself in better arenas across the world.”