The muscle-bound leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, boasted yesterday that he had challenged a minister to a sparring session to punish him for errors, posting photographs of their punch-up on his Instagram page.
Kadyrov wrote in a message on Instagram that he held the sparring session as a “pep talk” with the regional minister of sports and physical culture, whom he accused of poorly maintaining his ministry’s building.
“With a left and a right hook I explained to him ... that you need to use your head,” he wrote.
Yesterday Russia’s NTV aired footage of Kadyrov in the ring with the minister, Salambek Ismailov, who appeared to pull his punches, while Kadyrov aimed blows at his face and groin.
The match went to two rounds and included a referee, television reported.
The minister was allowed to wear a helmet, Kadyrov said, “because he has go to work the next day”.
In the gym watching the sparring was Russian Minister of Labour and Social Protection Maxim Topilin, who was shown smiling broadly on television.
Kadyrov argued on Instagram that it was “effective to punish in this way failings by officials” and that he was even doing the minister a favour.
“I think it’s better for him to let out his negative energy in the ring towards me, than to take out his bad mood on the family members at home”.
Kadyrov, a former rebel leader in Chechnya who went over to supporting the Kremlin, has gained the “master of sports” level in amateur boxing.
He boosts his macho image by strolling with armed guards and posting pictures of his gym sessions, echoing the macho posing of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Critics accuse Kadyrov of ruling the region with thuggish intimidation and lack of respect for human rights.
Contact sports such as boxing and in particular wrestling are popular in the North Caucasus region, which has spawned numerous champions.
The boxing stunt came after it emerged that one of the brothers of Chechen origin who are suspected of carrying out the Boston bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was a promising boxer.