Ronan Farrow Daily   |  April 15, 2014

Inside Dagestan's robust MMA sports culture

Vocativ takes a closer look at the robust Mixed Martial Arts sports culture in Dagestan, a place that is now perceived by many as a breeding ground for terrorists after the Boston Marathon Bombing.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we're going to close this hour with a look at the people behind this tranl. the tsarnaev brothers.

>> tamerlan studied martial arts . it's a robust martial arts culture there. we're going to take a closer look at the collaboration with the data mining start-up.

>> this is fight night in the chechen capital of graznia.

>> translator: i think mma is the sport of the peoples, of the caucuses, and for the chechens.

>> reporter: in america kids play basketball, football, and baseball. in chechnya and dagastan, they wrestle and do martial arts . fighting is a way of life . for few people here so is extremism. this is one of the many fighters here trying to use his sport as a way out.

>> translator: it's in our blood, fighting, battles, wrestling, all of it. it's in or genes. tirchlgts it was in tamerlan tsarnaev's blood. tamerlan descended into islam after his olympic dream ended. was one outlet replaced bit other? we don't know. what we do know is that for many people here mma is like a religion.

>> translator: this building is the holiest of holies. grazny tried to absorb. the biggest bombardment since yetsen ordered his troops in.

>> reporter: this region has been ravaged by two wars and a steady stream of terror attacks. in this place that gave rise to the infamous black widow sprid bombers, even the little girls learn to wrestle too.

>> translator: the bad tempered times have stayed in our blood, and now we need to transform it into something.

>> reporter: on mma forums around the world analysts find that the number of messages and postings about fighters from the caucuses has increased exponentially over the last three years. in the past few years islan and others from the region have flooded mma leagues from the smaller circuits to the big octagon on american cable tv , the ufc. notice beslan's ear. that's what happens in this sport. you get hit a lot. the fighters wear it like a badge.

>> translator: here we are like the world of animals, the strongest survive.

>> oh.

>> reporter: three years ago rasul was a rising fighter with a 5-0 record when he pumplged a 19-year-old outside a club in moscow. the man died from his injuries. he spent 15 months in prison for manslaughter.

>> translator: i thought it was a dream. sometimes i still wake up and look at the ceiling and wonder if i'm still asleep.

>> reporter: he recently went with him's visited his grammar school in dagastan. he is still seen as a hero here. he used wrestling and fighting to find a way out of a place now perceived by many as a breeding ground for terrorists.

>> translator: a common opinion about us has become very negative. that we are all extremists and bandits. no, we are like everybody else.

>> reporter: compared to war, these fighters, the ring is not all that frightening.

>> translator: we have bombs going off and gunshots every day. it's hard to even compare what goes on in the gym to all that noise.

>> reporter: not all the fighters here are so impartial. makmudav believes the bombings in boston were a conspiracy.

>> translator: i feel sadness and pain for the people in boston who suffered. at the same time i feel sadness for the tsarnaevs who were used as scapegoats. i don't think the act was carried out by the guys that are blamed for it.

>> translator: every nation has its own crazies.

>> reporter: this is russia's female olympic wrestling coach based in the capital city . he says the tsarnaev brothers sht representative of dagastan.

>> translator: it's hard to explain what the tsarnaevs want, what their angle is. the guys that did this at the boston marathon , this could happen at any sporting event , one where even i could be somewhere in dagastan. there are no guarantees.

>> all right. thank you to our partners at vocativ for that report. that wraps things up for today's edition of ronan farrow daily. up next "the reid report" with more special coverage of the one-year anniversary of the boston bombings.