Dagestan to unveil special Khabib tourism tribute
Fight fans are being compelled to visit Dagestan to see where combat sports athletes such as Khabib Nurmagomedov took their first steps in their legendary careers in a new effort to galvanize tourism in the region, according to Anna Bezrukova, the Deputy Minister for Tourism and Folk Art Crafts.
Dagestan has a rich history in combat sports such as mixed martial arts and wrestling, and has produced a robust lineage of champions from the region - not least of whom is Nurmagomedov, who officially retired undefeated from the UFC last year.
The region has also seen the likes of Islam Makhachev, as well as the various other fighters who share the Nurmagomedov last name, begin to make their imprint on the sport using skills which were honed in Dagestan.
Given the massive global popularity Khabib has gained throughout his championship career, it is hoped that visitors will flock from far and wide to see where Khabib took his first steps in his championship career - an idea sparked, Bezrukova says, by various tourists visiting Dagestan to learn more about Nurmagomedov.
“Dagestan is a forge of Olympians in freestyle wrestling,” Bezrukova said to TASS of the proposal.
“In this direction, we have ideas about the formation of certain Olympic routes, that is, routes will be formed according to the birthplaces of Olympians.
“Now the places where Khabib Nurmagomedov and Abdulrashid Sadulaev trained are popular. Routes are already randomly created by themselves, because independent tourists find where Khabib Nurmagomedov was born, they come there.”
Two-time Olympic gold medal winner Sadulaev, known as 'The Russian Tank', also hails from Dagestan and is currently recognized by many as the most dominant active freestyle wrestler on earth.
“By and large, they all leave to train in their villages and began their sports career in their villages,” Bezrukova added.
“Probably, the climate also influenced the fact that they became successful, the relief of Dagestan itself is very difficult - every day they run and breathe fresh air, cross difficult terrain.
“There is such a trend - coaches who work with children in other regions, make such fees for themselves for their pupils, come to Dagestan exactly in the places where our athletes were brought up.”
Nurmagomedov was born in Sildi before his family moved to Kirovaul and, eventually, to the Dagestan capital Makhachkala.
It was here where the young Khabib first developed his strong interest in combat sports after observing training sessions organized by his father, Abdulmanap.
Khabib ultimately became a UFC champion and arguably the country's most prominent athlete. He remains the most followed Russian personality on the Instagram social media network.