'Traitor!': Alexander Shlemenko slams first Russian UFC champion for beer advert (VIDEO)
Shlemenko, who is well known as a teetotaler and social activist in his native Russia, has once again drawn public attention to his views on the promotion of alcoholic beverages among the youth. He issued a video clip addressed to the 50-year-old Taktarov, who in 1995 won the UFC’s eight-man tournament, in which all the fights were staged on the same night.
In the three-minute video, filmed just outside the Storm gym in his native city of Omsk, Shlemenko talks about his frustration after learning that a fighter who in his own words “he grew up looking up to,” now advertises alcohol.
“I consider people like him to be traitors, traitors of their own people,” said the 33-year-old.
“Yes, he is a respected person, yes, he was fighting and did a lot for his country. But I think it’s important to consider what he is doing right now. It says (on the can) strong beer and there is a picture of a strong guy. Who are they applying it to? To the kids who do sports, I think. They are trying to say, ‘drink strong beer, get addicted to it and you’ll become strong guys,'" he added.
“I think we should strongly oppose this sort of thing and remember who was taking part in it,” concluded the fighter, before pouring the beverage from the can onto the lawn.
He then proceeded to crush Tartarov’s face on the can with his foot, before dropping it into the trash can.
“And it goes into the trash can,” added Shlemenko, who then addressed his young fans.
“I wish you to stay in a strong spirit, guys. Stay sober and healthy!”
The response from the former heavyweight fighter came shortly after the video was released.
Speaking to the Russian MMA journalist Alexander Lyutikov, Taktarov said that Shlemenko is aiming for a future career in politics, and his video was simply made to draw attention to himself, rather than to the problem of alcoholism among young people in Russia. The issue was particularly significant in the ‘90s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, which caused a high rate of unemployment and a large increase in crime.
Taktarov also emphasized that in his opinion, Shlemenko, who was accused of doping violations in 2015 (the charges were later dropped), is not in a position to criticize anyone.
He additionally addressed the issue on his Instagram profile the following day.
“If you want to step on me, you can only do it with my picture. Real Taktarov will break your legs from any position, even if you are 20 years younger and an active champion. Full stop,” wrote the 50-year-old former athlete.