Daghestan – sports republic


Daghestan is justly called a sports republic. This small mountain region is one of the first in the Russian Federation in the number of prepared Olympic and World Champions, and it surpasses more than two hundred states.

Sports movement was arising in the far twenties of the 20th century. First sports sections were opened then. It was a hard post-revolutionary time when ideology based on class approach defined forms and methods of work, dedicated to a single purpose – shaping a new soviet person. According to this, physical training of people and first of all of youth, was inextricably connected with ideological and military training and patriotic upbringing. But in spite of exaggerations and obvious faults of that period, it was that time when state system of physical training was rapidly created in the republic, first professional staff members were prepared – physical training teachers, coaches – teachers in different sports disciplines, including national sports.

Since 1936 new possibilities for development of physical training and sports appear in Daghestan, which was conditioned by establishing of a profiled committee as a separate government body. Staff of the newly established sports institution enthusiastically sprang into action; however, it wasn’t at once that they could spread their activity – The Great Patriotic War made its adjustments.

Years after the war were marked with a new phase in development of physical training and sports in Daghestan. Mass events started to be held everywhere. Schoolchildren, students and grownups actively participated in all kinds of competitions, eagerly attended sports sections, which were opened at fitness and sports societies “Burevestnik”, “Dinamo”, “Spartak”, “Trud”.

In the end of 1950s and in the beginning of 1960s games-based sports – volleyball, football, field-handball, motorcycle football, and also such disciplines as fencing, archery and rifle and pistol shooting started to be developed in Daghestan. Popular among Daghestan people combat sports – freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, boxing, sambo and judo – developed further. Alongside with it sports infrastructure improved, material and technical resources of sports schools progressed, a lot of attention was paid to training coaches.

Each year the number of Masters of Sports of USSR in the republic increased. Among the first ones who were honored by this title were track athletes Ali Isaev and Omar Murtuzaliev, freestyle and sambo wrestlers Surakat Asiyatilov, Stanislav Gadjiev and Suleyman Efendiev, gymnast Kamil Munchaev, acrobat Evgeniy Smirnov, fencers Grigoriy Sklyar, Ruslan Kugushev and Vladimir Nazlimov.

1959 is a special year in the chronicle of Daghestanian sport. That year Ali Aliev wrote his name in history, putting a start in victories of Daghestanian athletes in World Championships. It can hardly be called an accident that it was a wrestler who was the first person from Daghestan to win these prestigious competitions. For many years wrestling was popular among highlanders. Among them there were real strongmen, whose fame stepped far beyond Daghestan’s borders. Mama Makhtilaev, more known as Sali Suleyman, Al-Klich Khasaev, Osman Abdurakhmanov-Kikuninskiy – these originals from inner-land brilliantly performed on circus arenas of world’s capitals, causing audience’s amazement demonstrating strength stunts and winning the strongest wrestlers of their time.

In the second half of the 1960s two significant events had happened in the republic’s sports life, which gave a strong impulse to further development of popular in Daghestan football and freestyle wrestling. In 1967 “Dinamo” football team from Makhachkala became the winner of regional competition, and then, having won qualifying tournaments in front of full tribunes of home arena, they achieved the right to participate in the league of a higher class in the Championship of USSR.

Championship of USSR in freestyle wrestling which was held in Daghestan for the first time also caused great interest among spectators. Athletes of four weight categories came to Makhachkala. In two of the categories the first places were taken by hosts of the championship – Ali Aliev and Yuriy Shakhmuradov.

1970s are one of the most successful periods in the history of Daghestanian sport. Finally the republic has its own Olympic Champion in freestyle wrestling. This significant event took place in Olympics-1972 in Munich, where Zagalav Abdulbekov brilliantly competed and became the first wrestler in the North Caucasus who stepped on the top tier in the Olympic Games.

On the Olympics-1976 in Montreal his achievement was repeated by Vladimir Yumin, and four years later in Moscow two Daghestanian freestyle wrestlers – Magomedgasan Abushevi and Saipulla Absaidov – merited gold Olympic medals.

Once again “Dinamo” from Makhachkala reminded of itself, its successful performance in the season of 1975 caused a real football boom in the republic. That year the leader of Daghestanian football won regional competitions of the Championship of Russia in the second league and won the Cup Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republics.

In the next decade vigorous political processes started happening in the country, the declared restructuring and change of economic formation were accompanied by commotions in society and eventually lead to the collapse of the USSR. This tough period happened in the second half of 1980s and the beginning of 1990s couldn’t but have an impact on the sports field, which had a lot of difficulties. However, in spite of political instability and economical hardships in the country, people of Daghestan managed to maintain material and technical foundation, specialists, to withstand and keep everything valuable that had been developed before, and continue to lead an active physical culture and sports activity. New sports schools are opened in the republic, sports and athletic meetings are held among village and medical workers, schoolchildren and students.

In 1990 Daghestan combat sports Federation was established and four years later similarly named center was created on its basis, which received government support. By that time karate was legalized, which a lot of youth was interested in, Wushu-Taolu and Sanda, Thai boxing, kyokushin kaikan, taekwondo and other martial arts were gaining popularity. Today 12 sports are developed in the Daghestan combat sports center. In the most of them Daghestanian athletes are in the main roles in the country, they also successfully represent Russia on international arena, winning medals in the most prestigious competitions.

In the beginning of the 1990s after some downfall, the situation with freestyle wrestling significantly improved. The government evolves a republican special-purpose program “Of preparing Daghestanian sportsmen for the Summer Olympic Games-1966 in Atlanta (USA)”. Providing the leading athletes with all the necessary conditions and also measures of material inducement couldn’t but have an impact on growth of sports results. In Atlanta the Russian hymn was played twice in honor of freestyle wrestlers Khadjimurad Magomedov and Buvaysar Saytiev, and four years later on the Olympic Games in Sydney three trainees of Daghestan wrestling school – Murad Umakhanov, Adam Saytiev and Sagid Murtuzaliev won gold medals.

In 1999 a life-changing event for further development of football in the republic happened – “Anji” football team, headed by a competent authority of the country – Gadji Gadjiev – was promoted to the major league, where in the next season it took the fourth place.

A lot of attention in those years was paid to improving sports infrastructure. In Makhachkala stadium “Dinamo” and sports complex named after Ali Aliev were reconstructed. Regional center of sports training named after S. Shamkhalov and a new training base “Anji” were put into operation. Stadium “Khazar” was built in Kaspiysk, Palace of Sports named after G. Gamidov was built in Khasavyurt. On the base of Regional center of sports training and opened in 1995 Institute of physical training of the Daghestan State Teachers’ Training University a scientific center of continuous training, retraining and advanced training of specialists in sports field was created.

In 2000s Daghestanian athletes bring joy by their victories in the main starts of the quad. The republic’s first Olympic gold medal in boxing was won by Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov. It happened on the Olympic Games-2004 in Athens, where Buvaysar Saytiev and Mavlet Batyrov also stepped on the top tier. Four years later in Beijing these outstanding freestyle wrestlers will repeat their achievement. Also on the Olympic wrestling tournament Shirvani Muradov and Ramazan Irbaykhanov will become champions. Another four years will pass, and on London Olympics judoists Mansur Isaev and Tagir Khaybulaev, freestyle wrestlers Djamal Otarsultanov and Sharip Sharipov will fall into the line of Olympic triumphants from Daghestan.

Golden times for “Anji” have come. In 2011 Daghestanian businessman Suleyman Kerimoov became the owner of Makhachkala football club. Great Russian and foreign football players joined the team, including international stars Riberto Carlos and Samuel Eto’o. In the season of 2012-2013 Makhachkala football club under the guidance of famous Holland coach Guus Hiddink achieved the highest point in the history of Daghestan football, gaining bronze medals of the championship of Russia. Besides that, “Anji” was finalist of the Russian Football Cup, and also reached 1/8th of the final of the Europa League. The team plays on the former “Khazar” stadium, which was reconstructed in accordance with international standards and renamed as “Anji-Arena”. A football academy was established on the basis of the club, where in conditions, meeting all the modern demands, reserve for the main team of the republic is trained.

Since 2010 the republic became the place of holding such big competitions as World Freestyle Wrestling Cup, semi-final of Russian Volleyball Cup, Championships of Russia in Taekwondo and Freestyle Wrestling, finals of the Cup of Russia in football and rugby. Traditional international tournaments – in the memory of Ali Aliev, “Intercontinental Cup” in freestyle wrestling and boxing tournament in the memory of M.-S. Umakhanov become more popular.

Holding of competitions of such a high grade became possible thanks to construction of new objects, and in particular, putting in operation in 2011 the biggest covered sports area in the North Caucasus – the Palace of Sports named after Ali Aliev in Kaspiysk. In the last years in framework of implementation of federal and special-purpose programs on the account of extrabudgetary and municipal sources of funding, more than 200 sports objects were put into operation. The most significant are “Trud” stadium and “Daghestan volleyball center” in Makhachkala, Olympic reserve football academy and youth athletic center named after K. Kuramagomedov in Kaspiysk, sports complexes in Kizlyar, Babayurt, Karabudakhkent and Kizilyurt.

A great good for those who love the game of millions and for those who like weight-lifting exercises are new 50 football and futsal plastic fields and 40 training towns “Workout”.

Significant progress in improvement of sports infrastructure of the republic, which was achieved in the last years, has increased the possibilities for involving people in active lifestyle, holding mass sports events. The President of the Russian Federation V. Putin’s executive order of recreation of sport and fitness complex “Ready for Labor and Defense” is connected to it. According to this order a plan was enacted in Daghestan on phased introduction of “Ready for Labor and Defense”, which is implemented successfully in towns and regions of the republic.

A great event in the sphere of physical training of the republic was the 6th Festival of Culture and Sports of the People of Caucasus, which was held in 2015 on the “Trud” stadium, where Daghestanian team won the first place in the team scoring.

The development of Daghestanian volleyball also has a new period. The team of experts “Daghestan” successfully performs at the championship of the country. In 2016 this team achieved the best result in the history of Daghestanian volleyball – it took the third place in the major “A” league.

In 2016 another Olympic cycle ended with the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 24 Daghestanian sportsmen managed to participate in the main starts of the quad. They represented Russia and foreign countries. They performed in three wrestling styles, judo, boxing and taekwondo. On their account there are two gold medals, which were won by freestyle wrestler Abdulrashid Sadulaev and taekwondo practitioner Radik Isaev, one silver medal and seven bronze medals. Small Daghestan, if it was represented as a separate national team, based on the number of prizes would make it to the top 30 among 206 countries participating in the Olympic Games in Rio.