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US MMA fighter Monson says asking for Russian citizenship not a political move

"Countless people in Russia have opened up their hearts to me and their homes and I just want to give back," Monson explained

MOSCOW, September 24. /TASS/. Titled American MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter Jeff Monson said on Thursday his decision to apply for the Russian citizenship was neither politically motivated nor connected with the issue of money.

Monson, 44, announced last year that he submitted documents to become a citizen of Russia and upon his visit to Moscow this June he asked Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), to help him with obtaining the Russian citizenship.

"I think it is very important to realize that this is not a political move," Monson told a news conference hosted by TASS on Thursday. "Countless people in Russia have opened up their hearts to me and their homes and I just want to give back."

"I feel like my soul is in Russia and I want to give back and not just live here and make money," the titled US fighter said.

If granted the Russian citizenship, Monson said he planned to open his own chain of schools for Russian children, so that they would be raised in line with standards of healthy style of life, having confidence in themselves and be good citizens of the country.

"Of course I have a family, I want to support myself, but my dream is to support children and see them excited," Monson said. "It is about them competing and growing up and having a healthy lifestyle and then to have confidence in themselves. That is my dream."

Nicknamed ‘The Snowman’ and boasting a record of 81 fights (57 wins, 23 losses, 1 draw) Monson was born in Olympia, the state of Washington, on January 18, 1971. The American fighter is the two-time winner of the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship, and a No Gi Brazilian jiu-jitsu World Champion.

Among numerous tattoos on his body, Monson sports two tattoos in Russian saying ‘svoboda’ (freedom) and ‘solidarnost’ (solidarity). Tattoos of Hammer and Sickle (a symbol of former Soviet Union) a red and black star are also inked on Monson’s body.

In one of Moscow tattoo salons earlier this year, Monson made a tattoo running up the whole length of his left thigh with the image of Russia’s world-famous monument, The Motherland Calls. The monument, located on the Mamayev Kurgan in the Russian city of Volgograd, was erected to commemorate the heroic feat of the Soviet soldiers in one of the bloodiest WWII battles known as the Battle of Stalingrad.