Sambo (martial art)

Sambo, Russian: самбо
International Federation
of Amateur Sambo
Also known as Sombo (in English-speaking countries)
Focus Eclectic
Country of origin  Russia
Famous practitioners Fedor Emelianenko, Alexander Pushnitsa, Oleg Taktarov, Igor Vovchanchyn, Nick Diaz, Vitaly Minakov, Volk Han, Andrei Kopylov, Chris Dolman, Gokor Chivichyan, Oleg Stepanov, Genrikh Shults, David Rudman, Andrei Arlovski, Blagoi Ivanov, Alexander Emelianenko, Vladimir Putin, Khaltmaa Battulga, Sergei Kharitonov, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Rasul Mirzaev, Rustam Khabilov, Dean Lister, Islam Makhachev, Ali Bagautinov, Omari Akhmedov
Parenthood Savate,Judo, Jujutsu, Kurash, Alysh, Bökh, Kung Fu, Karate, Chidaoba, Koch, Trînta, Ssirum.
Olympic sport No
Official website

Sambo (Russian: са́мбо, IPA: [ˈsambə]; САМозащита Без Оружия) is a Russian martial art and combat sport.[1][2] It originated in the Russian SFSR in Soviet Union. The word "SAMBO" is an acronym for SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya, which literally translates as "self-defence without weapons". Sambo is relatively modern since its development began in the early 1920s by the Soviet Red Army to improve their hand-to-hand combat abilities.[1] It was intended to be a merger of the most effective techniques of other martial arts.

The pioneers of sambo were Viktor Spiridonov and Vasili Oshchepkov. Oshchepkov died in prison as a result of the Great Purge after being accused of being a Japanese spy.[3] Oshchepkov spent several years living in Japan and training in judo under its founder Jigoro Kano.[4]

Spiridonov and Oshchepkov independently developed two different styles, which eventually cross-pollinated and became what is known as sambo. Compared to Oshchepkov's system, called "Free wrestling" in Russia (known in the West as Catch-as-catch-can wrestling or simply Catch wrestling), Spiridonov's style was softer and less brutal. It was also less strength-dependent, which in large part was due to injuries Spiridonov sustained during World War I.[5]

Anatoly Kharlampiev, a student of Vasili Oshchepkov, is also considered a founder of sambo. In 1938, it was recognized as an official sport by the USSR All-Union Sports Committee.[3]


There are multiple competitive sport variations of sambo (though sambo techniques and principles can be applied to many other combat sports). Below are the main formats that are recognized by FIAS.[6]

  • Sport Sambo (Russian: Борьбa Самбо, Bor'ba Sambo, Sambo Wrestling (eng)) is stylistically similar to old time Catch wrestling and Judo, but with some differences in rules, protocol, and uniform. More akin to Catch wrestling, and in contrast with judo, sambo allows various types of leg locks, while not allowing chokeholds. It also focuses on throwing, ground work and submissions, with very few restrictions on gripping and holds.[7]
  • Combat Sambo (Russian: Боевое Самбо, Boyevoye Sambo). Utilized and developed for the military, combat sambo resembles modern mixed martial arts, including extensive forms of striking and grappling. Combat sambo allows punches, kicks, elbows, knees, headbutts and groin strikes.[8] Competitors wear jackets as in sport sambo, but also hand protection and sometimes shin and head protection. The first FIAS World Combat Sambo Championships were held in 2001. The World Combat Sambo Federation, based in Russia, also sanctions international combat sambo events.


Origins and influences

Sambo's early development stemmed from the independent efforts of Vasili Oshchepkov and Viktor Spiridonov, to integrate the techniques of Catch wrestling, Judo, Jujutsu, and other foreign martial arts into native Turkic wrestling styles. Oschepkov taught judo to elite Red Army forces at the Central Red Army House. Vasili Oschepkov was one of the first foreigners to learn Judo in Japan and had earned his nidan (second degree black belt, out of then five) from judo's founder, Kano Jigoro. Spiridonov's background involved indigenous martial arts from various Soviet regions as well as an interest in Japanese jujutsu (though he never formally trained it). His reliance on movement over strength was in part based on the fact that he received a bayonet wound during World War I which left his left arm lame. Both Oschepkov and Spiridonov independently hoped that Soviet military hand-to-hand combat techniques could be improved with an infusion of the techniques distilled from other foreign martial arts. Contrary to common lore, Oschepkov and Spiridonov did not cooperate on the development of their hand-to-hand systems.[9] Rather, their independent notions of hand-to-hand combat merged through cross-training between students and formulative efforts by their students and military staff. While Oschepkov and Spiridonov did have occasion to collaborate, their efforts were not completely united.

Each technique was carefully dissected and considered for its merits, and if found acceptable in unarmed combat, refined to reach sambo's ultimate goal: to stop an armed or unarmed adversary in the least time possible.[10] Thus, many techniques from jujutsu, judo, and other martial systems joined with the indigenous fighting styles to form the sambo repertoire.[11] When the techniques were perfected, they were woven into sambo applications for personal self-defense, police, crowd control, border guards, secret police, dignitary protection, psychiatric hospital staff, military, and commandos.[12]


In 1918, Lenin created Vsevobuch (General Military Training) under the leadership of N.I. Podvoyskiy to train the Red Army. The task of developing and organizing Red Army military hand-to-hand combat training fell to K. Voroshilov, who in turn, created the NKVD physical training center Dinamo.

Spiridonov was a combat veteran of World War I and one of the first wrestling and self-defense instructors hired for Dinamo. His background included Free wrestling (i.e. Catch wrestling), Greco-Roman wrestling, many Turkic folk wrestling styles, and Japanese jujutsu. As a combatives investigator for Dinamo, he traveled to Mongolia and China to observe their native fighting styles.

In 1923, Oschepkov and Spiridinov collaborated (independently) with a team of other experts on a grant from the Soviet government to improve the Red Army's hand-to-hand combat system. Spiridonov had envisioned integrating the most practical aspects of the world's fighting systems into one comprehensive style that could adapt to any threat. Oschepkov had observed Kano's distillation of Tenjin Shin'yo Ryu jujutsu, Kito Ryu jujutsu and Fusen Ryu jujutsu into judo, and he had developed the insight required to evaluate and integrate combative techniques into a new system. Their developments were supplemented by Anatoly Kharlampiyev and I. V. Vasiliev who also traveled the globe to study the native fighting arts of the world. Ten years in the making, their catalogue of techniques was instrumental in formulating the early framework of the art to be eventually referred to as sambo.

Kharlampiyev is often called the father of sambo. This may be largely semantics, since only he had the longevity and political connections to remain with the art while the new system was named "sambo". However, Kharlampiyev's political maneuvering is single-handedly responsible for the USSR Committee of Sport's accepting Sambo as the official combat sport of the Soviet Union in 1938—decidedly the "birth" of sambo.[13] So, more accurately, Kharlampiyev could be considered the father of "sport" sambo.

Spiridonov was the first to begin referring to the new system with a name similar to 'sambo'. He eventually developed a softer style called Samoz that could be used by smaller, weaker practitioners or even wounded soldiers and secret agents. Spiridonov's inspiration to develop 'Samoz' stemmed from his World War I bayonet injury, which greatly restricted his (left arm and thus his) ability to practice wrestle. Refined versions of sambo are still used today or fused with specific sambo applications to meet the needs of Russian commandos today.

As an Olympic sport

It is often incorrectly stated that sambo was a demonstration sport at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, USSR. It is true that youth sambo was demonstrated in the Games' opening ceremonies; however, sambo was never formally recognised as a demonstration sport. This common error in history books is noted in several sources including From SAMOZ to SAMBO by Anatoly Makovetskii and Lukashev's History of Hand-to-Hand Combat in the First Half of the 20th Century: Founders and Authors.[14] Furthermore, the official documents of the 1980 Olympic Organizing Committee do not mention sambo as a participating sport in the Games.[15] As a side note, demonstration sports were suspended after the 1992 Summer Olympics. With the changes in Olympics Judo in for 2013 and the proposed removal of Freestyle Wrestling from the Olympics, there has been a great migration of wrestlers to SAMBO because of its all-encompassing techniques and dynamic yet consistent rules.


In 1968, the FILA accepted sambo as the third style of international wrestling. In 1985, the sambo community formed its own organization, Federation International Amateur Sambo (FIAS). In 1993, FIAS split into two organizations, both of which used the same name and logo and the two groups were often referred to as FIAS "East" (under Russian control) and FIAS "West" (under US and Western European control). This split mirrored the last days of Cold War politics of the time as well as the recent break-up of the Soviet Union. In the U.S., disagreements between the sport's organizers and the rise of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the 1990s slowed down the growth of sambo before the success of several sambo fighters increased its popularity a decade later.[16] In 2005, FILA reached an agreement with FIAS "West" and re-assumed sanctioning over sport sambo.[17] However, in 2008, FILA again discontinued sanctioning sambo and sambo is now notably missing from the FILA website.[18] At present, only FIAS sanctions international competition in sport sambo. In 2014 FIAS and FILA signed a cooperative agreement.[19] While this does not place sambo back on FILA's recognized list, it does move towards unity and prevents future 'turf wars' regarding the sport's promotion. A similar agreement was signed by FIAS and the International Judo Federation in 2014 as well.[20] Both FIAS and the World Combat Sambo Federation host international combat sambo competition. The American Sambo Association has continued to host freestyle sambo tournaments in the US and Canada since 2004. These events are unrecognized by FILA. Rumours rising in 2012 stating that sambo will be included as a demonstration sport in the 2016 Olympics are therefore not supported by any facts, and thus sambo is still a very long way from maturing into an Olympic sport, notwithstanding the effort that is being put into the matter. Indeed, given the intention of the Olympic Committee to remove classic wrestling from the Olympic roster, there are rumors that sambo is highly unlikely to ever make it to the Olympics. However, sambo has been included in the 27th Annual Summer Universiade for the first time in history.[21] FIAS submitted an application to the International Olympic Committee IOC to consider sambo for the 2020 Games and has devoted 2010-2013 to creating a sambo commission in the International Sports Press Association (AIPS).[22] This close relationship is reestablishing the global popularity and media emphasis on sambo.

Uniform and ranking

Similar to wrestling, a sambo practitioner normally wears either a red or a blue competition outfit. The kurtka (куртка) or sambovka (самбовка) as it is called, looks similar to a Judo gi top and belt, but has wrestling style shorts and shoes which match the uniform's color. The sambo uniform does not reflect rank or competitive rating. Sport rules require an athlete to have both red and blue sets to visually distinguish competitors on the mat.

Also similar to wrestling ranking system used in Russia, a competitive rating system is used (rather than the belt color ranking system used in judo and jujutsu). Various sport organizations distribute these ranks for high levels of competition achievement or in some cases coaching merits. People who have earned these ranks are known as 'Masters of Sport.' Institutions that grant a sambo 'Master of Sport' in Russia include FIAS,[23] FKE,[24] and the International Combat Sambo Federation. Other nations have governing bodies that award 'Masters of Sport' as well, including the American Sambo Association in the United States [25]

FIAS World SAMBO Championships

No.YearDatesCity and host countryChampion
I 1973 November 9–13 Tehran, Iran  Soviet Union
II 1974 July 26–28 Ulan Bator, Mongolia  Soviet Union
III 1975 September 19–21 Minsk, Byelorussia, Soviet Union  Soviet Union
IV 1979 October 13–14 Madrid, Spain  Soviet Union
V 1981 February 28 - March 1 Madrid, Spain  Soviet Union
VI 1982 July 3–4 Paris, France  Soviet Union
VII 1983 September 30 - October 1 Kiev, Ukraine, Soviet Union  Soviet Union
VIII 1984 June 14–15 Madrid, Spain  Soviet Union
IX 1985 September 19–21 San Sebastián, Spain  Soviet Union
X 1986 November 21–24 Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France  Soviet Union
XI 1987 Milan, Italy  Soviet Union
XII 1988 December 1–5 Montreal, Quebec, Canada  Soviet Union
XIII 1989 November 8–11 West Orange, New Jersey, United States  Soviet Union
XIV 1990 , Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union  Soviet Union
XV 1991 Montreal, Quebec, Canada  Russia
XVI 1992 November 6–10 Herne Bay, England  Russia
XVII 1993 November 9–15 Kstovo, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Russia  Russia
XVIII 1994 October 7–9 Novi Sad, Yugoslavia  Russia
XIX 1995 Sofia, Bulgaria  Russia
XX 1996 November 1–3 Tokyo, Japan  Russia
XXI 1997 October 10–12 Tbilisi, Georgia  Georgia
XXII 1998 October 16–18 Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia  Russia
XXIII 1999 November 12–14 Gijón, Spain  Russia
XXIV 2000 November 25 Kiev, Ukraine  Russia
XXV 2001 October 20–21 Krasnoyarsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia  Russia
XXVI 2002 November 26–29 Panama City, Panama  Russia
XXVII 2003 October 18
November 6–10
Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France (Combat Sambo)
St. Petersburg, Russia
XXVIII 2004 June 16–21
September 25–26
Prague, Czech Republic (Combat Sambo)
Chișinău, Moldova
XXIX 2005 October 21–23
November 11–14
Prague, Czech Republic (Combat Sambo)
Astana, Kazakhstan
XXX 2006 September 30 - October 2
November 3–5
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (Combat Sambo)
Sofia, Bulgaria
XXXI 2007 November 7–11 Prague, Czech Republic  Russia
XXXII 2008 November 13–17 St. Petersburg, Leningrad Oblast, Russia  Russia
XXXIII 2009 November 5–9 Thessaloniki, Greece  Russia
XXXIV 2010 November 4–8 Tashkent, Uzbekistan  Russia
XXXV 2011 November 10–14 Vilnius, Lithuania  Russia
XXXVI 2012 November 8–12 Minsk, Belarus  Russia
XXXVII 2013 November 7–11 St. Petersburg, Russia  Russia
2014 November 20–24 Narita  Russia
2015 November 12–16 Casablanca Russia
2016 November 10–14 Bulgaria, Sofia N/A
2017 N/A Russia, Sochi N/A

Medal table (2006–2009)

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Russia1992582308
2 Belarus12111942
3 Bulgaria12102244
4 Ukraine7172650
5 Kazakhstan452331
6 Mongolia47718
8 Georgia32914
7 Lithuania241117
9 Uzbekistan181524
10 Kyrgyzstan1247
10 Serbia1247
12 Tajikistan1236
13 Latvia1135
14 Moldova1056
15 Venezuela03710
16 Armenia0268
17 Azerbaijan0246
18 Japan0156
19 France0145
20 Romania0134
21 Estonia0134
22 China0134
23 Germany0112
24 Poland0112
25 Colombia0112
26 Israel0101
27 Greece0022
28 Spain0022
29 Czech Republic0257
30 Indonesia0011
31 Iran0011
32 India0011
33 Jordan0011
34 Canada1001
35 United States0011
36 Netherlands1001
37 Turkmenistan0011
38 South Korea0011
39 Slovenia0011
40 Portugal0011
41 United Kingdom0011
Total 251114290655

FIAS Hall of Fame


  • Fedor Emelianenko (combat sambo), four-time world champion, European champion, and six-time Russian national champion.
  • Murat Khasanov, 11-time world champion, seven-time European champion, 19-time Russian national champion.
  • Irina Rodina, 11-time world champion.
  • Svetlana Galyant, seven-time world champion.


Sambo fighters

Sambo fighters (sambo practitioners) are athletes who train, compete and coach under the rules of sambo.

American Sambo Association U.S. Sambo Archive

The American Sambo Association (ASA) has compiled the most extensive archive of American sambists competing abroad as well as U.S. based sambo tournaments held since 1973; as well as other important pieces of U.S. Sambo history dating back to 1968.[26] The database currently has over 1400 entries. Only verifiable results have been included in the database (no word of mouth reports are included). To be listed in the ASA archive, verifiable evidence of an athlete's participation and/or placing must be provided; this can include official results, photos on the podium, magazine or newspaper articles, certificates, passbooks, awards, etc.


  • Fedor Emelianenko, four-time World Combat Sambo Champion and six-time Russian National Combat Sambo Champion in the +100 kg division. Two-time Russian national Judo bronze medalist, he was the last heavyweight champion of the former PRIDE Fighting Championships and was the consensus #1 ranked Heavy weight MMA fighter in the world for over seven years.
  • Marko Kosev, Bulgarian national and the first and only one five-time world combat sambo champion.
  • Vitaly Minakov, four-time Sambo World Champion, four-time Russian National Champion.
  • Alexander Pushnitsa, three-time Sambo World Champion, two-time European Champion, nine-time champion of the USSR, Merited Master of Sports of the USSR.
  • Rasul Mirzaev, World Combat Sambo Champion in Tashkent 2010.
  • Igor Kurinnoy, a Merited Master of Sport, three-time Sambo World Champion, a five-time Sambo World Cup Champion and director of Borec Sports Club.
  • Andrei Arlovski, former UFC heavyweight champion. He was also the Junior World Sport Sambo Champion, as well as a silver medalist in the World Sambo Championship and World Sambo Cup.
  • Vladimir Kyullenen, 1972 European Champion and USSR Champion, 1975 World Champion and USSR Champion.
  • Ahad Rajabli, World Champion and multiple champion of Azerbaijan.
  • Chris Dolman, 1969 World Cup Champion, 1985 World Champion and 1985 World Games Champion. Eight-time Judo champion of Netherlands, European Judo silver medalist, four-time Greco-Roman wrestling champion of Benelux. Also the first primary trainer for Rings Holland and Dolman Gym, the mixed martial arts teams for which Alistair Overeem, Valentijn Overeem and Gegard Mousasi all were members. Also trainer and co-owner of Chakuriki Gym.
  • Volk Han, 1987 and 1988 USSR Champion, 1987 and 1988 Russian National Champion, Merited Master of Sports of the USSR. Multiple freestyle wrestling champion of Dagestan. Also the first primary trainer for the Russian Top Team, the mixed martial arts team for which Fedor Emelianenko, Aleksander Emelianenko, and Sergei Kharitonov all were members.
  • Andrei Kopylov, 1986 and 1991 Spartakiad of Peoples of the USSR Champion, 1991 USSR Champion. Also primary trainer for the Russian Top Team.
  • Ron Tripp, 1994 World Champion and 7 times World Medalist capturing 8 US National Titles and 6 Pan Am Golds during his career (both FIAS East and West). A Judo champion and current general secretary of USA Judo. Tripp was promoted to 10th degree in sambo in 1995 and became America's first International Distinguished Master of Sport in 1996. Also in 1996, he served as World Team Coach at the Tokyo World Championships. At the 1993 U.S. Sambo Championships, he scored a total victory throw over Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Rickson Gracie,[27] the only time Gracie was defeated in competition.
  • Clinton Burke, NCAA wrestling finalist and All-American from the University of Oklahoma, was a four-time finalist in world competition beginning in 1987, when he earned a silver medal in the World Cup in Tokyo. He won World Championship silver medals in three different weight classes (62 kg, 68 kg, and 74 kg), closing his career in 1993 as runner-up in the World Championships in Kstovo, Russia.
  • Lance Campbell Sport Sambo World Champion (FIAS West). One of only eight grapplers selected to compete in the Ultimate Submission Showdown.
  • Martin Clarke, The Father of British Sambo, Multiple time FIAS British Sambo Champion, World Games Silver 1985, World Silver 1986, World Masters Silver 1997. He is the only person in Great Britain to receive the FIAS Gold Medal for services to FIAS. He holds the rank of Grand Master in combat sambo and sport sambo.[28]
  • Amy Ehlenfeldt, an accomplished US judo player; she won the 1991 FIAS World Championships in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, becoming the first American woman to achieve victory over a female USSR competitor.
  • Aleksander Emelianenko, Fedor's brother, is a five-time Russian National Combat Sambo Champion and three-time World Sambo Champion in the +100 kg divisions.
  • Jason Gabrielson, Three-time World champion, one-time World Cup champion, Pan-American Games champion, Sixteen-time US Champion competing in all age groups (FIAS West). Only US lifetime undefeated champion. Was nominated for (but did not win) the American Sambo Association's Pioneer of American Sambo Award. Is also a champion wrestler and judo competitor.
  • James Chico Hernandez, First sambo champion to be featured on a box of Wheaties Energy Crunch.[29] He won the 2000 FIAS World Cup silver medal,[30] FIAS Pan American silver medal,10 time USA AAU Sambo Champion, three-time British FIAS silver medalist,[31][32] and bronze medal winner at the 2010 FIAS Championships of Scotland. 2009 American Sambo Association's Pioneer of American Sambo Award winner and he is the first sambo wrestler to appear in CNN/SI "Faces In the Crowd".[33]
  • Scott Sonnon, Honourable Master of Sports in Sambo from the AASF,[34] was nominated for (but did not win) the American Sambo Association's Pioneer of American Sambo Award, World University Sambo Games Silver Medalist (not an official University games event), USA Grand National and Pan-American Sambo Champion, and USA National Sambo Team Coach.[35]
  • Zurab Bekochvili, World Sambo Champion, Russian/U.S. Sambo & Judo Champion & a leading sambo authority in Florida, USA under American Sambo Federation. Zurab Bekochvili holds a notable victory in a 1993 sport sambo match against Scott Sonnon
  • Archil Chokheli, two times world Sambo Champion (1997 & 2000) and European champion, trained the Georgian national team in 2012 but was killed in an anti terror operation while serving as officer of a special operations unit.[36][37][38][39]
  • Igor Yakimov, World Judo Champion, as well a World Sport Sambo Champion and a medallist at the Combat Sambo World Championships
  • Irina Rodina, Russian Women's Sport Sambo Champion, judo olympian, and mixed martial artist
  • David Rudman, USSR, champion of the first International Sambo Tournament, at 70 kg,[40][41] and first World Champion in the weight category up to 68 kg.[42]
  • Yury Rybak, Belarusian sport sambo champion, and World Judo silver medalist
  • Andrei Kazusionak, Belarusian sport sambo champion, European Judo champion, and Olympian
  • Blagoi Ivanov, Won the over 100 kg combat sambo gold medal at the 2008 World Sambo Championships, at 22 years of age he notably defeated Fedor Emelianeko, 4 time World Combat Sambo Champion.
  • Sergej Grecicho, two-time Lithuanian combat sambo champion, mixed martial artist
  • Rumen Dimitrov, World Combat Sambo Champion, and mixed martial artist from Bulgaria
  • Rosen Dimitrov, World Combat Sambo Champion, and mixed martial artist from Bulgaria
  • Rustam J Szudoczki, From Russia, Chechnya. 2 time European Combat Sambo and Sambo champion, 9 time World Champion Combat Sambo/MMA/WCC. Sambo grandmaster (level 10) He was one of the youngest sambist in the world who get the grandmaster level in young age. He is professional fighter and referee.
  • Genrikh Shults, 6-times Soviet Sport Sambo Champion (85 kg), the first captain of the USSR national Judo team, European Judo champion (80 kg)
  • Marko Kosev, 5 time World Combat Sambo Champion from Bulgaria.

Other notable sambo fighters

  • Khabib Nurmagomedov is a Russian mixed martial artist. He is the current champion in the UFC Lightweight division. He is a former sambo world champion.
  • Dennis Siver is a Russian-German mixed martial artist. He competes in the UFC Featherweight division.
  • Gokor Chivichyan is an Armenian judo, wrestling and sambo instructor, who resides and teaches in the USA.
  • Hiroshi Hase, Japanese Olympic wrestler-turned-pro wrestler who learned sambo in an expedition to the Soviet Union in 1989.
  • Takayuki Iizuka, Japanese pro wrestler who learned sambo in an expedition to the Soviet Union in 1989.
  • Dean Lister, an American mma fighter (UFC) and 2x ADCC champion has a background in sambo.
  • Alexey Oleinik, Ukrainian mixed martial artist, and combat sambo competitor.
  • Ibragim Magomedov, a Russian mixed martial artist.
  • Victor Nemkov, Russian World Cup champion, and emerging mixed martial artist .
  • Oleg Taktarov, UFC 6 Champion, UFC '95 Ultimate Ultimate Tournament finalist, and actor.
  • Megumi Fujii, a former MMA-fighter. She is known as the "Princess of Sambo."
  • Sergei Kharitonov, a former PRIDE Fighting Championship competitor.
  • Satoko Shinashi, an accomplished Japanese mixed martial arts competitor often called the "Queen of MMA".
  • Oleg Prudius, a Ukrainian professional wrestler best known for performing on WWE's RAW Brand as Vladimir Kozlov, has experience in sambo among other martial arts.
  • Professional wrestler Dave Taylor was a sambo champion in England and is a third-generation practitioner of the sport.
  • Jalali Damirov, Azerbaijanian Sambo Grandmaster. 3 times European Sambo Champion, 10 time's Azerbaijan Sambo Champion, International sambo championship 2nd. place.
  • Manish Yadav (sambo wrestler) from India won bronze medal in 1st South Asian Sambo Championship in Nepal (2011). He won Gold in Indian Senior National Sambo Championship in 2012 and won bronze in 26th Dutch open sambo wrestling in 2017 in125kg category. He has represented India in world sambo championship at Casablanca (Morocco) 2015 and Sofia (Bulgaria) 2016 and two Asian champion ship both were held in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) 2012 and 2014.

Fictional sambo fighters

Name controversy

Although sambo is a Russian acronym, exponents of the sport in the English-speaking world have faced problems concerning the word's (linguistically unrelated) racial overtone. Sambo representatives opted to use the alternative spelling Sombo to avoid offense.[43] However the name had unwanted associations in other languages, too. In Spanish, it means intoeing or pigeon toe, to refer to someone who has legs like this. In Swedish, "sambo" is the term for an unmarried couple living together on permanent basis. To avoid further confusion, FIAS references the sport with an acronym spelling: SAMBO.[44]


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