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MOSCOW, October 6. /TASS/. A situation regarding the recent participation of children in mixed martial arts fighting tournament in Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Chechnya ought to be straightened out, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Thursday.
"I did not watch (the fights), but I believe this format of fighting has its own regulations," Mutko said. "Everything must be legal and there must be no tournaments beyond the regulations. We need to straighten this out and it would be one thing if it was simply a show, but quite the other if it was a real competition. We have made an inquiry and will be dealing with this situation."
Chechnya’s capital of Grozny hosted on Tuesday MMA tournament Grand Prix Akhmat 2016 featuring fights between children among the bouts of professional fighters. Three of the children were sons of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov - 10-year-old Akhmad, 9-year-old Zelimkhan and 8-year-old Adam.
Three of them were fighting with opponents of the same age and won the fights, while Akhmad managed to beat his opponent, Damir Shevkhuzhev from Sochi, with a knock-out on the 14th second of the fight.
On Wednesday, President of Russian MMA Union and renowned fighter Fedor Emelianenko denounced mixed martial arts fights of children in Grozny saying it was "inadmissible and, moreover, cannot be justified."
Sports Minister Mutko said it was high time to discuss this issue as well as the issue regarding illegal formats of competitions in the country.
"I think it is about time to raise this issue," he said. "There must not be a tournament in Russia if it does not comply with any officially registered sport. We need to return to this issue once again considering the fact that this format (of MMA fighting) has age limitations."
"In line with MMA regulations, children can take up this sport starting with a certain age, not to mention entering competitions," the sports minister added.
In his statement on Wednesday, Emelianenko, who boasts a record of 36 wins and 4 losses and is dubbed as ‘The Last Emperor,’ said in particular that "Participation in the fights on a par with adults may result in irrecoverable harm to the health of children and it will not only put an end to their sports career, but will also inflict both physical and psychological damages."
"The fights were held in line with rules and regulations for adult fighters, which is unsuitable for children," Emelianenko said. "On top of all, MMA regulations prohibit children under the age of 12 from taking part in the fights."
In line with the regulations of the Russian MMA Union, only children of age over 12 can be allowed taking part in the fights. Participants within the age groups of 12-13, 14-15 and 16-17 are obliged to wear rash guards (an athletic shirt made of spandex and nylon or polyester) and protective ammunitions.