HBO’s “Real Sports” Shines Spotlight on Dark and Demented Chechnya Leader Using MMA To Legitimize Himself



HBO’s “Real Sports” Shines Spotlight on Dark and Demented Chechnya Leader Using MMA To Legitimize Himself

For those inclined to pay attention to current events, the subject of Russia has been dominant in the news in America in recent months.

Our newly elected President, Donald Trump, has for years publicly stated his admiration for the leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Trump critics have been bewildered and many citizens dismayed that Trump doesn’t see Putin, regarded as a bully, at best, in many quarters, through the same lens that this nation collectively has, historically.

The topic hasn’t been exhausted, not an iota, as every day, the press touches on evidence of collusion between Team Trump members and Russians who sought to aid Trump in downing Hillary Clinton in the November 2016 runoff for the White House. The President’s oldest son, Donald Jr., has just been ensnared in a controversy, as he was forced to admit he took a meeting with a Russian attorney who promised to share informational detrimental to the candidacy of Mrs. Clinton. Trumpers had previously denied such a meeting occurred but when faced with evidence and Donald Junior offering up an email chain admitting to this liaison, many switched their argument, and noted that opposition research is a given in high-stakes politics.

Some citizens who hadn’t been paying attention to matters outside our borders have perked up, and sought to comprehend the relationship between Trump and Putin, Russia and the world, and this era’s version of the Watergate debacle, which we predict will unfold to be on a much grander scale, continues to play out.

Politics has been bleeding into other matters, as this hot button matter has family members and friends arguing with passion and fury. Perhaps this is a blessing disguised as a demoralizing quagmire of lies and corruption and debate about what is indeed “fake news.” Because more eyes and ears are now opening to the wider world, and practices that a majority of our citizens find abhorrent. In that vein, buzz is strong on the upcoming HBO Real Sports interview with Chechnya ruler Ramzan Kadyrov.

Chechnya is a republic of Russia, and Kadyrov has run the state since 2007. The program airs Tuesday, July 18 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and features Kadyrov’s first Western TV interview in several years.

From our side, it looks very much that a tyrant head of state is seeking to become a titan of sport. Kadyrov has begun expanding and exporting his Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) program; his participation in the sport raised eyebrows when word came out that he had his three sons, under 12, fight in an MMA exhibition which was shown on TV over there. The combatants, all kids, wore no protective gear and one fighter lost by technical knockout. Those issues though pale in comparison to allegations more severe, namely, that Kadyrov has demanded the round up and torture of male homosexuals in Chechnya. Some have been beaten to death, reports indicate.

HBO's David Scott went to Kadyrov’s turf and interrogated the autocrat.

“This MMA tournament is unlike any other in the world,” Scott says in the segment, in a voiceover. “You won’t find any ring girls here. In fact, there are virtually no women at all, and it’s not really about punching tonight. Tonight is about raw political power because the guy running the show is also running the country. Military dictator, he is the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.”

HBO's David Scott: “I wanted to ask you about the alleged roundup, abduction, and torture of gay men in the Republic. What, Mr. President, do you want to say about that?”

Ramzan Kadyrov: “Why did he come here? What’s the point of these questions? This is nonsense. We don’t have those kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada. Praise be to God. Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”

HBO's David Scott: “But do you not get concerned when you read these accounts of young men who say they’ve been tortured for days? Does it concern you as a matter of law and order in the Republic when you hear these stories?”

Ramzan Kadyrov: “They are devils. They are for sale. They are not people. God damn them for what they are accusing us of. They will have to answer to the Almighty for this… America is conducting an anti-Russian policy against the country’s leadership. They know that I’m ready to give my life for Russia, and that I have a good army capable of attacking and defending. We’ll see how things go for everyone.”

HBO's David Scott: “Do you regard the United States as an enemy of your country?”

Ramzan Kadyrov: “America is not really a strong enough state for us to regard it as an enemy of Russia. We have a strong government and are a nuclear state. Even if our government was completely destroyed, our nuclear missiles would be automatically deployed. We will put the whole world on its knees and screw it from behind.”


On surface, his statements are undeniably intolerant and one needn’t be seen as raving progressive to find much of the ruler’s wording repugnant and maniacal. Props to HBO and Real Sports for doing this heavy lifting, spending money to travel to shine a bright light on the dark and deviant doings of this Putin cohort. At worst, here in America, perhaps it will spur more people to ask why the President is so chummy with Putin, who stands accused and unpunished for having journalists and dissenters assassinated. If we as a people don’t take a stand against that, then are we not guilty, of condoning by staying silent?

Real Sports has this segment available on Tuesday night.

Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.