Tajikistan national MMA champion dies fighting for ISIS in Iraq

An MMA fighter from Tajikistan, who fled from his home to fight for the Islamic State, was killed in an airstrike in Iraq on…

By: Karim Zidan | 9 years ago
Tajikistan national MMA champion dies fighting for ISIS in Iraq
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

An MMA fighter from Tajikistan, who fled from his home to fight for the Islamic State, was killed in an airstrike in Iraq on Feb. 3.

According to RFE/RL, Islamic militant Abu Muhammad al-Tajiki, formerly known as Alan Chekranov, was confirmed dead following a recent air strike near Kirkuk. It appears the Chekranov was a three-time MMA national champion in his home country.

While Chekranov does not have an official MMA page, Radio Ozodi confirmed that he was a national champion in the 54kg. weight category. The 21-year-old attended the Tajik-Russian Slavic University but was expelled two years later for absenteeism.

Once Chekranov was expelled, he moved to Russia under “labor migration” and stayed in the country for a year. It was there that he met several North Caucasus youth, and through them, was able to leave for Iraq in 2013.

According to his longtime friend Sharfor Tagoev, Chekranov was an entirely different human being once he returned from Russia.

“Before, he used to go to training all the time and he only talked about mixed martial arts,” Tagoev told RFE/RL. “But when he came back from Russia, he had a little beard, and he used different words.”

It appears that Chekranov’s path to the extremist group was not an uncommon one. Radio Ozodi added that many Tajik militants traveled to Syria and Iraq using the same route through Russia. Currently, the number of Tajik’s fighting for ISIS number anything between 70-300, although there is little evidence to support the numbers.

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About the author
Karim Zidan
Karim Zidan

Karim Zidan is a investigative reporter and feature writer focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. He has written for BloodyElbow since 2014 and has served as an associate editor since 2016. He also writes for The New York Times and The Guardian. Karim has been invited to speak about his work at numerous universities, including Princeton, and was a panelist at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He also participated in the United Nations counter-terrorism conference in 2021. His reporting on Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA, much of which was done for Bloody Elbow, has led to numerous award nominations, and was the basis of an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary.

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