‘Shivers all over my body’: Russian Olympic heavyweight describes shared inspiration with Khabib as he secures shot at Tokyo gold
Russian boxer Muslim Gadzhimagomedov spoke about the inspiration he shares with UFC icon Khabib Nurmagomedov from a song about their Dagestani homeland, as the heavyweight booked a spot in the final in Tokyo.
Gadzhimagomedov, 24, comfortably saw off New Zealand’s David Nyika in their Tokyo semi-final on Tuesday, winning the three-round contest by a 4-1 margin which the Russian fighter felt should have been a whitewash.
“I don’t understand how the Argentine referee could give my opponent all three rounds. Evidently he was watching another fight on his phone,” Gadzhimagomedov said afterwards.
“Judges like that should be removed, disqualified. This is the only way to make boxing more honest.
“During the fight I realized I was ahead on points. Now we are waiting for my opponent in the final, a Brazilian or a Cuban.”
Amateur star Gadzhimagomedov – a world and European champion – is on an incredible streak of 48 fights unbeaten, spanning nearly four years.
The Nitilsukh-born bruiser cruised past double Commonwealth Games champion Nyika and will next meet either Abner Teixeira of Brazil or Julio Cesar La Cruz of Cuba for the gold medal, with at least silver already in the bag.
Makhachkala resident Gadzhimagomedov spoke of the inspiration he gains at the Games from his choice of song, ‘My Dagestan’ by artist Sabina Saidova (also known as Sabina Kors).
If the tune is familiar to combat sports fans, that might be because UFC superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov made his entrance to the octagon to the same song during his unbeaten career.
Gadzhimagomedov said he had selected the song for his own ring walks after hearing Khabib enter to the music for his famous meeting with Conor McGregor back in 2018.
“I was born in Dagestan high in the mountains, my village is very high on the border of Georgia and Azerbaijan. You can hardly get there, the song about Dagestan was just because of this,” said Gadzhimagomedov.
“This song motivates me. My fellow countrymen, relatives and friends were watching on TV and cheering for me. First of all, I represent Krasnodar Krai [region], Dagestan, and the whole of Russia. Every inhabitant of our country is rooting for our athletes.
“This song became popular after Khabib’s cage walks. When he entered the fight with Conor, we were at the Russian Championship in Yakutsk, we watched this fight.
“When Khabib walked out [to the song], I felt motivation and shivers all over my body. It was nice. Since then, this song has played on my ring walks, it’s helped me a lot.
“I don't know Khabib personally. I was familiar with Abdulmanap Magomedovich [Khabib’s late father], he gave me my award at the World Championship in Ekaterinburg and congratulated me on his Instagram. Unfortunately, he’s no longer with us…”
Gadzhimagomedov – who, like his compatriots, is competing under the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) banner in Tokyo due to WADA sanctions – admitted he thought the song might not be allowed because of the restrictions on some Russian symbols.
“I thought that the song wouldn’t be allowed, because it’s about the homeland and country,” said the boxer.
“It was said that this isn’t allowed, but I asked just in case it would be. In the end, they allowed it.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov is already the pride of Dagestan for feats in the UFC octagon, and Gadzhimagomedov could join him as another man to claim gold from this famously fertile region for combat sports talent.