Dagestan For Dummies

Everything you wanted to know about the Republic of Dagestan but were afraid to ask.

So what is Dagestan, anyway?

Dagestan is a small, mountainous republic -- basically a province -- of the Russian Federation, located where the Caucasus Mountains meet the Caspian Sea.

null

null

About 3 million people live in Dagestan, and it's a little smaller in size than West Virginia.

You may recognize the Dagestani flag at international wrestling events. It's the one Abdulrashid Sadulaev is holding in his left hand in the main picture of this article. It's got three horizontal strips -- green, blue, and red from top to bottom -- and may or may not have the official Dagestani seal in the middle.

So why should we care about Dagestan?

Because more awesome freestyle wrestlers come from Dagestan than from any other part of the world. At the Rio Olympics, Dagestani wrestlers won five freestyle medals.

null

But how can that be when Russia only won three total freestyle medals at Rio?

Dagestanis often transfer to and wrestle for other countries. Dagestan is famous for its "Legionaries." In Rio at 86 kilos, half the medalists from the USA's J'den Cox's weight class were from Dagestan, the other was from the nearby Republic of Ingushetia.

null

OK so Dagestan is good at wrestling. Why are they so good at wrestling?

Great question and one that I could probably never fully explain, but the short answer is that wrestling is part of Dagestani culture. Every kid in Dagestan grows up surrounded by wrestling. It's part of the fabric of daily life. Even within Russia, Dagestan is an outlier. At the 2017 Russian Freestyle National Championships, 9 of 16 finalists were Dagestani.

null

Wow. No kidding? So, what else should we know about Dagestan?

Well, the people there are predominantly Muslim (hence all the guys named Magomed or some variation thereof. Magomed = Mohammed) but also speak over 30 different languages and belong to an even larger number of different ethnicities.

null

You don't say? What else?

Dagestanis and other folks from the Caucasus Mountains are also known for their distinctive papakha or astrakhan hat.

null

And the crowd-pleasing Lezginka dance.





OK, final question, what's up with the Abe Lincoln beards?

Yeah, I'm not really sure whats up with the beards, although they appear to be quite popular in Dagestan. Hey, want to see a whole bunch of (mostly) awesome Dagestani world and Olympic medalists with sweet Abe Lincoln beards?

Do I?

OK, great, here you go!

Abdulrashid Sadulaev: Olympic Gold; 2X World Gold
null

Sharif Sharifov: Olympic Gold, Bronze; World Gold, Bronze
null

Albert Saritov: Olympic Bronze; World Bronze
null

Magomed Ibragimov: Olympic Bronze
null

Akhmed Chakaev: World bronze
null

Magomedrasul Gazimagomedov: World Gold
null

Abdusalam Gadisov: World Gold, Silver
null

Jamaladdin Magomedov: World Silver, Bronze
null

Ali Shabanau: 2X World Bronze
null

Bekkhan Goygereyev: World Gold
null

Magomed Kurbanaliev: World Gold, Bronze
null

Nariman Israpilov: World Bronze
null

Gadzhimurad Rashidov
null

Ilyas Bekbulatov
null

Shamil Kudiyamagomedov
null

And many more! By the way, If you want to keep tabs on Dagestani wrestling, I'd suggest this excellent website.

Wow, thanks for telling me everything I wanted to know about Dagestan but was too afraid to ask!

Hey, listen, pal, it was my pleasure.


Get all of the hottest FloWrestling content!

Sign up for the FloWrestling newsletter for instant access to: breaking news, live events, results, rankings, archived matches and more!
Top
FloSports, Inc.

FloSports, an innovative sports media and events company, based in Austin, Texas, is the authentic source for content and a new world of coverage that true fans have been waiting for. Focused on three areas – live competition and coverage, original content, and owned and operated events – the company takes fragmented communities and provides them the platform to connect with the sports they love.

Learn More at FloSports.tv