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Cheap Shot: Handgun Drawn After Losing Wrestler Launches Melee

A screen grab from a YouTube video appears to show a man brandishing a gun during a melee that broke out during a wrestling match in Russia.
A screen grab from a YouTube video appears to show a man brandishing a gun during a melee that broke out during a wrestling match in Russia.

Participants and spectators at junior wrestling championships in a western Russian province got a scare when a defeated wrestler went ballistic, setting off a melee that prompted at least one man to brandish what Russian media described as a handgun before calm could be restored.

The incident was caught on video. The clip shows the losing competitor, in a red-and-gold singlet, lying on his back in despair after the buzzer, before he launches himself at his victorious opponent once the referee is preparing to declare the winner.

Dozens of tournament and team officials quickly converge on the wrestlers and separate them. But as the various sides disentangle themselves from the action on the mat, one man who appears to have been part of a wrestling contingent pulls out the gun and waves it menacingly.

Local media identified the angry athlete as a wrestler from Russia's southern Republic of Chechnya, and the man with the weapon as one of his supporters.

In fact, although it is not apparent from the video, local reports suggested another man from the losing wrestler's contingent was carrying a gun as well.

WATCH: A Melee Breaks Out At A Russian Wrestling Match

The news agency said the event was a junior wrestling championship held on May 13-15 in the western Russian province of Belgorod.

There did not appear to be any panic, even as the man repeatedly wielded his gun before he eventually put it back inside his jacket. No one around him looked particularly shocked either.

It was unclear how anyone managed to get a handgun inside the sporting event, which reportedly involved 400 athletes, dozens of referees, and many spectators.

Police were called to the sports center in the town of Stary Oskol, where authorities said they were investigating the incident.

Police say no one was injured in the scrum. Provincial police spokesman Aleksey Goncharuk was quoted as saying that "the perpetrators will be found and their actions will be assessed according to the law."

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    Farangis Najibullah

    Farangis Najibullah is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL who has reported on a wide range of topics from Central Asia, including the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region. She has extensively covered efforts by Central Asian states to repatriate and reintegrate their citizens who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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