Several days ago, retired freestyle wrestler Chamsulvara Chamsulvarayev was killed by a U.S. drone strike in the Northern Iraqi region of Mosul. The Dagestani wrestler was also a naturalized Azerbaijani citizen who had defected to the Islamic State (ISIS). Chamsulvarayev specialized in recruiting young women to their cause. He is believed to have radicalized a pregnant teenager who blew herself up in Istanbul.
“His job in ISIS was hiring young girls and making them suicide bombers,” reported a news site.
The dark path that led to Chamsulvarayev’s demise is in stark contrast of his professional career years before. Despite his inability to qualify for the Russian national team, Chamsulvarayev eventually became a naturalized Azerbaijani citizen and competed for that national team at 74kg . During his career he won a bronze medal in the FILA Wrestling World Championships in 2007 and upgraded to a silver medal at the same event two years later.
He even competed in a 2005 Super Cup event against Bellator talent Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal.
Chamsulvarayev is hardly the first athlete from the North Caucasus to defect to Syria and Iraq to fight in the ongoing Islamic insurgency. Another Dagestani wrestler turned Azerbaijani citizen, Jeyhun Bayramov, was killed while fighting for ISIS in 2014. Others like Ramazan Saritov, who almost made the cut for Russia’s Olympic team in 2004 and 2008, died in police shootouts after joining local terrorist groups in Dagestan.