As many outlets are reporting, two suspects have been identified in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings: Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his younger brother Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19. The two are from a Russia region near Chechnya, but have been living in America for years. In fact, Tsarnaev — killed early this morning in Watertown, Mass. during a shootout with police — was a boxer who at one point hoped to compete in the Olympics for the U.S.
The elder Tsarnaev became a permanent legal resident in the U.S. in 2007, and for years trained and competed to become a world-class boxer. In a photo series called “Will Box For Passport,” a gallery produced by Johannes Hirn showed Tsarnaev training at the Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts center in Boston. The accompanying captions describe Tsarnaev as a deeply devout Muslim with no “American friends.” Hailing from Chechnya, which is part of Russia, Tsarnaev said that — barring Chechnya gaining independence — he would rather box for the U.S. Olympic team than for his home nation.
A few other perplexing pieces of information from the gallery:
He once represented New England in the heavyweight category at the National Golden Gloves competition.
He and his family fled Chechnya in the 1990s due to civil unrest, and came to the U.S. after living in Kazakhstan.
He (had? has?) a pretty attractive half-Italian half-Portuguese girlfriend.
He generally appeared to lead a contented life that included integrating into American society, so much so that he was willing to wear the country’s name on his chest. Something clearly changed between then and now.
You can see the rest of the photos of Tsarnaev here.