Russian-Australian boxer Kostya Tszyu has questioned the widely discussed proposal of awarding UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov the title of Hero of Russia, claiming sporting achievements are not enough for such an honor.
The idea of presenting the highest honorary title to Nurmagomedov was voiced by Russian MP Gadzhumurat Omarov, who sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he said that the UFC champion is a role model for many young people.
“Such guys as Khabib are decent role models for young people, every generation should have its idols,” Omarov wrote.
The initiative was dismissed by many Russian sports stars, including International Boxing Hall of Famer Tszyu, who said that he doesn’t see any reason for Nurmagomedov to be awarded the title, despite deeply respecting him.
“Hero of Russia? What for? Honorary master of sports, yes, no doubt, he deserves it. But the title of Hero of Russia… I don’t understand. No matter how much I respect him for what he has done, these things are incomparable,” said Tszyu.
The ‘Hero of the Russian Federation’ award is the highest honor bestowed by the president for services to the state and people implying a heroic deed.
Russian MMA fighter Alexander Shlemenko supported former world light-welterweight champion Tszyu, saying that Nurmagomedov has done a remarkable amount in sport, but that there is nothing heroic in his achievements which also allow him amass significant riches.
“To me a hero is a person who sacrifices his life for other people. Fire fighters, military men who save others. Maybe there is some sort of gradation. Of course, Khabib has achieved a lot in sport, nobody questions that. But he performs in a commercial sport where he earns money. This does not quite fit the title (Hero of Russia.)” he said.