Wrestling News: Whenever there is a discussion of best freestyle wrestler from the current generation Russia’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev will always find the top spot. The wrestler has been an unstoppable force ever since his debut in 2014. The armour has been impenetrable for the past three years. The only challenge the wrestler has ever got since moving up from 86kg class to 97 after 2016 Olympic gold medal campaign, is from the US wrestler Kyle Snyder. The four-time world champion in an interview with Russian news daily WrestlingUA talks about his rivalry with Snyder and what he thinks of him as a person. The wrestler also reveals what he would have done if not wrestling.
Here is the excerpt:
WrestlingUA: Your main rival is America’s Kyle Snyder. Tell us about your acquaintance with him on the carpet and in ordinary life.
Sadulaev: As a rival, he is very strong, physically very powerful. I even saw how he dragged bulldozers behind him. Therefore, it would be stupid to consider him weak. The main emphasis should be on technology. If we talk about him as a person, then he is a very educated and religious guy.
WrestlingUA: At the World Championships in Paris in 2017, he defeated you. After a year in Budapest, you took revenge. But, honestly, given the highland mentality and ambition, are you comfortable with this draw?
Sadulaev: “I think we’ll meet again.” I was counting on this Olympics in Tokyo, but it was postponed. If none of us is injured and everything will be fine, then there is every chance. Of course, I would like to meet on the carpet, but it does not depend on us. For example, in Kazakhstan, fans crawled to come to see our fight with him, but Snyder did not reach the final, and in the end, I fought with Shariff Sharifov. So not everything in the struggle depends on our desires.
WrestlingUA: Once you invited Snyder to visit Dagestan and he promised to come. If he does arrive, how do you begin his acquaintance with the republic?
Sadulaev: Yes, in Vladikavkaz, I talked with him when he flew to the competition. I wanted to take him to Dagestan, but he was in a hurry for the flight. Kyle said that he had been dreaming of seeing Dagestan for a long time, he wanted to fly with his wife after the Olympics. But now I don’t know how all this will be. If he arrives, then first I will show Makhachkala, our sea. Then I will definitely drive to the mountains – to my village. He must see these landscapes. Of course, the first thing I feed is Avar khinkali with mountain meat.
WrestlingUA: I want to talk with you about another rival (Covid-19), which you had to fight recently. Where do you think you got infected?
Sadulaev: Probably from relatives. Many of them have been ill with me. At first, like many others, I did not believe in it. I doubted for a very long time. When we started talking about the first infected people, for the sake of interest, my friends and I called up with the central hospitals of the districts, asked about the situation, there were no patients there. My father is also a doctor, he works in a children’s clinical hospital in Makhachkala. There, too, at first there were no cases of virus infection. He said: “We are getting ready.” And so while my loved ones themselves did not encounter this, I refused to believe. As a result, a lot of relatives and friends fell ill. And I, too, picked up in May, but everything went lightly. There was low temperature and severe bruising in the back. I was treated at home. On 3-4 days I already got to my feet.
WrestlingUA: On May 21, you asked your subscribers from your Instagram page to stay at home. Why did you not do this before?
Sadulaev: Before me, everyone else did it. On social networks, every second addressed with a call “Sit at home, sit at home.” People are already tired of all this, they were angry, and I understand them too. When I travelled in families as a volunteer, I saw how poorly many lives were. Just imagine: they leave the house in the morning, go to work and earn themselves only for dinner. Earned today – spent. And tomorrow, what if you stay at home? So they told us: “May we die from the virus than from hunger.” Therefore, I wrote down an appeal before the celebration of Uraza-Bairam, realizing that now it’s not about work, but about trips to the mountains, visiting relatives and friends, as it happens every year. This year I myself did not go to the village for the first time to congratulate my relatives.
WrestilngUA: You mentioned your volunteer work during the pandemic, tell us more about it.
Sadulaev: There is a proven Insan charity foundation, I have been cooperating with friends for a long time as a volunteer and as a sponsor. Now, I personally began to distribute products to show others that you can’t stay away. The need for this situation with coronavirus has become much greater. The head of the fund said that before the epidemic, they had 10 thousand families asking for help, and now 15 thousand.
WrestlingUA: How do you feel about the fact that commentators on social networks often compare you with Khabib Nurmagomedov, draw parallels between you, trying to understand who is cooler?
Sadulaev: No way, this is the first time I hear about this. We have a good relationship with him, we communicate. Each of us does his own thing – I’m on the carpet, he’s in a cage. I don’t understand the point of comparing us.
WrestlingUA: But there was a time when you wanted to leave the fight forever.”
Sadualev: Yes, it was 13-14 years old. When I first started training, I immediately began to beat my peers. Then he began to win regional championships in freestyle wrestling, zone competitions, and won the Dagestan championship among schoolchildren. But then they seemed to jinx me, I lost to the guys weaker than me. And so it was two years. I was very angry, and I had a direct aversion to sports. I could not see the gym when my friends started talking about wrestling, everything turned me around. I really wanted to leave, but the elder brother Zumrad constantly explained to me that this happens, everyone goes through it, one must be patient and not give up. And I listened to him. He gained patience and began to work, work, analyze his mistakes – and took off.
I will tell you one story. A boy came to one sage, extended his hand with a clenched fist and said: “I have an insect here. Do you think it’s alive or dead? ” And you know what he answered? “All in your hands! If you want, you will open it and it will fly away; if not, you will squeeze your fingers more tightly and it will die. ” And then I also realized that everything was in my hands. And now I know that everything is in my hands.
WrestlingUA: You are often called a phenomenally gifted by nature wrestler, but the fact that you are also a hard worker is understandable when you just hear about how much time you spent on the road to training. Six hours a day only on the way from home to the gym.
Sadulaev: It was already in Makhachkala. When I graduated from school in my village, my father put me next to him and said: “Rashid, choose, it’s time to decide – are you going to sports or in my footsteps, to medicine? You have a week to think. ” But I didn’t need her, I already knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted to become an Olympic champion. And when I moved to the city, I lived in the village of Shamkhal-Termen. And every day it took me 1.5 hours to get to the hall. The same amount and vice versa. And then in the evening on a new one – back and forth. Moreover, the training ended at 9 pm, and there were no minibuses from the city to the village. Had to get on the way, then on foot.
WrestlingUA: Your first fee, 300 rubles, you gave to your mother. What are you doing with the fees today?
Sadulaev: I also give it to my mother (laughs). To be honest, freestyle wrestling is not such a rich sport. But I always try to help my parents, relatives, friends. I easily part with money but don’t throw it away. I spend my money the way I want.
WrestlingUA: Where do you see yourself in 10 years – on the carpet, in business, in parliament?
Sadualev: I don’t know yet. We still have to live up to this time. Now all my strength and thoughts are aimed at preparing for the Olympics. I am an active athlete, I want to fight and win.
WrestlingUA: Favorite season?
WrestlingUA: Karaoke or dance floor?
WrestlingUA: The best place to live?
WrestlingUA: Favorite movie?
Sadulaev: Ertugrul. (“Risen Ertugrul” – Turkish historical series)
WrestlingUA: The most delicious dish?
Sadulaev: Avar Khinkal.
WrestlingUA: Coffee or Kalmyk tea?
WrestlingUA: How many times do you want to become a dad?
WrestlingUA: Idols in sports?
Sadulaev: Alexander Karelin, Buvaysar Saitiev, Alexander Medved.
WrestlingUA: If not a freestyle wrestling, then what?
WrestlingUA: What is your main advantage?
Sadulaev: This should be judged by others.
WrestlingUA: The disadvantage?
Sadulaev: Ego. But I am working on it.
WrestlingUA: Your dream?
Sadulaev: “I’m not at that age to dream.” We must set goals and go towards them.
Sadulaev: The second Olympic gold.