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Dagestan fighters bound for MMA glory

In the Russia’s southern Republic of Dagestan, where wrestling and boxing are paramount, it was only natural for MMA to flourish.
­Magomedemin Gadzhiev helps forge martial arts talents in Dagestan. He founded the sports center in Makhachkala back in the mid-1990’s which became home to multiple national and international champions in various fighting styles.“Wherever there are martial arts, the Dagestanis are there, even in other regions of Russia, because here in Dagestan they are unable to attain self-fulfillment on account of rivalry. But we follow their progress too. We still have a lot of reserves though, and use the natural potential of our native athletes,” Magomedemin Gadzhiev, head of the Russian National Center of Martial Arts, said.Following Fedor Emelianenko’s worldwide fame reached in this sport, thousands of kids across the country began to flock to gyms.“I believe I actually saw a program which suggested that northern regions of Russia should focus on skiing, biathlon and winter sports in general; and southern republics like Dagestan on combat sports,” Zainalbek Zainalbekov, instructor at the Russian National Center of Martial Arts, said. Some programs of the Martial Arts Center like Thai Boxing have received recognition as the world’s best by the international federation for three years in a row. Thanks to victories, there is obviously no shortage of students.“We want our kids to live in peace and practice the right way of life. And we explain to them: When you go to school you should master knowledge and when you come to practice, you should be top athletes,” instructor Anvarbek Amirzhanov said. In the town of Izberbash kickboxing is king. Dagestan has more than 40 official clubs with over 60 coaches and local fighters are regulars on Russia’s national team.And the republic’s supply of athletes into this sport at times seems infinite too.“In 2010 alone, ten Dagestani kickboxers made it to the Russian national team. Sometimes we get to send four, five or even six people to the European and World Championships. Only the winners of the Russian nationals make it to such events,” Magomed Magomedov, president of Dagestan’s Kickboxing Federation, said. Advancement of sports to the masses, especially young people, is a priority in any region of Russia. The leadership of Dagestan is also trying to attract youngsters into the gyms and lead by example by playing table tennis at least three times a week.“Our young people love sports, they enjoy their exercise, that is why we are always ready to help them by organizing events, clubs, and any other measures where sport is involved,” Magomed Abdulaev, Prime Minister of Russia’s Republic of Dagestan, stressed.