We’ll continue the push to include Sambo in Olympics, says Putin on sport beloved by Khabib
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to continue efforts to press for Russian combat sport Sambo - beloved by fans including UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov - to be added to the list of Olympic events.
Putin visited Moscow State University on Wednesday when he met students including reigning world Sambo champion Kamil Abdulazizov, who asked the Russian leader about the sport’s Olympic prospects.
"There’s no doubt at all that we must continue promoting this initiative [to get Sambo included at the Olympics], but we must be doing it accurately and in a calm manner," Putin said, according to TASS.
"It’s not an easy issue, but we are working on it," added the Russian leader, who is himself a black belt in judo and former Sambo practitioner.
"It’s not easy because among other things we [Russia] have almost no competition [from other countries in Sambo]," Putin said.Also on rt.com Sambo receives temporary recognition by International Olympic Committee
Sambo, an abbreviation of "self-defense without weapons" in Russian (samozashchita bez oruzhiya), received temporary recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) amid its 80th anniversary last year, potentially the first step towards inclusion at the Games.
Some of its most famous proponents are Russian MMA stars Khabib Nurmagmedov and Fedor Emelianenko, who have used the sport’s basics as part of their own fighting repertoires.
Nurmagomedov famously wore a T-shirt to a 2013 UFC weigh-in bearing the slogan: “If Sambo was easy, it would be called jiu jitsu” – a jab at the martial art that originated in Brazil and is seen as essential to UFC fighters.
Putin himself has also trained in Sambo, and has frequently appeared at competitions to distribute prizes.
On Wednesday, the Russian president said Sambo needs "to be developed further and popularized so that outstanding wrestlers will emerge in other countries, which in turn will express interest in taking part in tournaments.
“This is when they will start supporting the bid to include Sambo into the Olympic program,” he added.
With continued backing from Russia – including big names such as Putin and Nurmagomedov – Sambo-lovers may finally achieve their long-held dream of Olympic recognition.