Ramzan Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed leader of the Russian republic of Chechnya, is receiving heavy criticism after video surfaced of his three young sons competing in a mixed martial arts event on the eve of his 40th birthday.
While having his sons fight wouldn’t sound like such a bad idea if the boys were young adults, the fact that the oldest of the Kadyrov sons is only 10 years old is the reason why so much attention has been brought to the event.
Akhmad (10) defeated another boy via technical knockout in what was described as an exhibition fight on a nationally televised card earlier this week. Akhmad’s younger brothers, 9-year-old Eli and 8-year-old Adam, also won their fights in front a rabid crowd of adults on hand at the Grand Prix Akhmat 2016 international tournament in Chechnya’s capital of Grozny.
Kadyrov took to Instagram to celebrate the three boys scoring victories. However, not everyone was happy to see a trio of preteens involved in an MMA fight.
Russian MMA legend, Fedor Emelianenko, was critical of the scene, calling the fights involving Kadyrov’s sons “inexcusable” while stating that MMA rules did not allow children under the age of 12 to compete.
“Children under 12 aren’t even allowed into the hall as spectators, but here kids who are eight years old were beating each other up in front of delighted adults,” Emelianenko wrote on his Instagram page, while also citing that the boys did not wear any protective gear such as helmets and vests. “Is it really that important for everyone to organize a spectacle at the expense of children’s health?”
Although it was questionably deemed an exhibition, Emelianenko suggests that the children all risked injury and psychological harm by competing at such a young age.
Kadryov has been accused of human rights violations during his tenure, which includes forced disappearances and murder. He’s an ally of President Vladimir Putin but Putin was also critical of Kadryov’s decision to let his young sons fight and suggested that this could prompt the involvement of the “appropriate oversight agencies.”
Last month, Kadryov held his seat as the head of the republic after earning 98 percent of the vote. He faces little to no political opposition as Chechnya’s leader.