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Russian boxing establishment welcomes nazi ex-con with open arms

Vyacheslav Datsik, a former MMA fighter who spent time in prison for attacking sex workers at a brothel, has reinvented himself as a bareknuckle boxer. 

Vyacheslav Datsik—Russia’ mixed martial arts wild man—needed less than a single round to secure his first ever bare-knuckle boxing victory.

Flanked by a series of haystacks that made up the parameters of the Top Dog FC ring, Datsik stalked his opponent, a financial adviser from Bournemouth, England, named Randy Randayn, and hammered him with repeated blows to the delight of the crowd in attendance. With less than 90 seconds left in the opening round, Datsik landed a powerful overhand right before swarming his opponent with several more hard shots until his white collar opponent’s corner threw in the towel.

The victory marked Datsik’s third win at a combat sports event since his most recent release from prison in November 2020. However, prior to reinventing himself as a boxer, Datsik had a well-publicized criminal history involving robberies, assaults, and murder threats, and raids on brothels. He is also an avowed white supremacist and a former member of a banned neo-Nazi group in Russia who, despite being welcomed back by the Russian combat sports community, has shown no remorse for his history of violence and hate.

Return of the ‘Red Tarzan’

Datsik has long been viewed as one of the most controversial characters in MMA.

The self-proclaimed “Red Tarzan,” was initially known for being the first fighter to knock out future UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, whom he defeated in his MMA debut in 1999. He continued to fight professionally for the next seven years, earning a reputation for his wild fighting style and controversial in-ring antics.

After taking part in his final MMA bout on Aug. 23, 2006, Datsik seemingly vanished from public life, leading to rumors that he had died in a train wreck. However, it was later reported that he had been detained in 2007 over a series of armed robberies of phone shops in St. Petersburg, Russia. He reportedly justified these crimes by claiming that his targets were racially motivated and that he only stole from shops that he believed belonged to “non-Russians.” He also claimed that Jesus Christ was a Mossad agent and that he himself was a “white warrior” named “Red Tarzan,” the son of Slavic pagan god Perun.

Following an official examination of his mental health, it was deemed that Datsik suffered from schizophrenia. He avoided criminal charges but was placed in a high-security mental institution. In 2010, he was transferred to a low-security psychiatric clinic, which he promptly escaped from after tearing a hole in the fence. He then illegally crossed the border into Norway and turned himself over to the Norwegian authorities and asked for political asylum. He was denied asylum—Datsik had reportedly arrived in Norway covered neo-Nazi symbols, handed in a loaded handgun, and declared himself “not a nationalist but a racist”—and was deported back to Russia.

Datsik posing with an axe and a handgun with a flag emblazoned with the Nazi SS bolts in the background

Norway’s decision to deny Datsik political asylum was rooted in the fighter’s role in the Slavic Union, a Russian neo-Nazi organization that was later banned following charges that the group promotes ideas similar to the ideology of “Nazi Germany.” Datsik was one of the extremist group’s most prominent members and had been known to propagate Nazi symbolism in the past.

Following his return to Russia, Datsik underwent another mental health examination and was found to be of sound mind. In 2012, he was sentenced to five years in prison for an attack on a mobile phone shop. He remained in prison until March 2016.

Upon his release, Datsik assumed a new, self-appointed, role as St. Petersburg’s “public defender” and moral police. He posted a video of himself operating a makeshift checkpoint in the Petrograd region of St. Petersburg, where he stopped a couple passing by in their car and accused the woman of being a prostitute and the man of being her pimp.

After roughing up the man on camera for several minutes, Datsik threatened to call the police unless the “pimp” was willing to prove that the female in his car was not a sex worker. He insisted that the pair had to kiss affectionately on camera to prove it. The woman, who hid her face from the camera to this point, wiped away tears and kissed her partner to appease the seemingly insane Datsik. He eventually let them go on their way, but not without a fair warning never to cross him again.

In May 2016, Datsik declared a “war on prostitutes” and broke into a brothel, where he assaulted the sex workers and forced them to walk naked through the streets of St Petersburg. Datsik filmed the entire incident, entering each of the private rooms, attacking the sex workers and tearing off blankets they used to protect their identities.

”F***ing whores,” Datsik yelled into the camera during the raid. “They infect the last white men of our nation with HIV. The whole country will watch you, whores. As for the pimps, we will wring their necks. If you know where a whorehouse is, call the police and tell the police to file them all.”

During another attempted brothel raid later that same month, Datsik was arrested by undercover police officers positioned at the facility. He was transferred to a pre-trial detention unit and, in March 2018, was found guilty of hooliganism, breaking and entering, and a “premeditated attack on the health of others.”

The former fighter was sentenced to 3.5 years in a maximum security prison. He was released on Monday, February 25, 2019 after the district court reversed the initial ruling due to an “expired statute of limitations.”

The following year, Datsik and his friend were detained while trying to cross the Russian border with Estonia in an inflatable boat. He was released in November 2020 following an 11-month jail sentence.

In the wake of his most recent release, Datsik married his fiancé Viktoria and began training for a return to professional competition for the first time in 15 years.

A Career Reinvented

On Feb. 20, 2021, Datsik defeated Tyson Dijon by technical knockout after sending the Cameroonian boxer tumbling through the ropes in the fourth round of their contest in Krasnogorsk, Russia. The event marked Datsik’s professional boxing debut.

The white supremacist took part in three more fights to date in 2021, earning a 4-0 record overall. He defeated Dijon by unanimous decision in a rematch in June, and followed up with wins against Daniyal Elbaev and Randayn in his bare knuckle boxing debut.

In the aftermath of his most recent victory in September 2021, Datsik set his sights on Alexander Emelianenko, who defeated blogger Artyom Tarasov by unanimous decision in a hybrid boxing bout with MMA gloves earlier that month.

Winline Boxing Night near Moscow Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images

“He seems to have agreed to the fight,” Datsik told Tass.ru. “But he needs to get in shape. He will now have three or four easy fights. At the end of this year or early next, I think this fight will pass.”

Datsik has long been interested in a fight with the younger Emelianenko brother. The extremist made headlines after accusing Emelianenko of taking part in fixed fights and took jabs at Emelianenko’s issues with alcohol by claiming that if “we had a fight, your liver would be blown out at the first minute.”

The bad blood between Datsik and Emelianenko dates back to 2010. At the time, Emelianenko publicly stated that the extremist should be kept separate from society.

“He isn’t normal and shouldn’t even be allowed to fight,” Emelianenko said. “He never showed me anything in his fights, or in his behavior in society to be nothing more than an idiot who read the wrong books somewhere and now has this idea of Russian fascism. He now walks the streets of our beloved cities with his moronic friends causing trouble and unrest due to this new stupid ideology.”

Staying true to his character, Datsik response included a series of homophobic and racist slurs, as well as an antisemitic attack on Emelianenko’s former manager Vadim Finkelchtein.

Given the ongoing animosity between Datsik and Emelianenko, as well as the attention it has garnered in domestic media, it is likely that the two convicted felons will face off in a freak show bout in the coming year—a concerning development given their violent respective histories.

Datsik flashing a Nazi salute while wearing a t-shirt with a Swastika.

In 2015, Emelianenko was convicted of sexual assault, “kidnapping” by withholding a passport, and the forced use of “narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances” on 27-year-old Polina Stepanova, his substitute housekeeper. Emelianenko allegedly stole her passport from her purse while she was cleaning the house and extorted her for sexual favours, while forcing her to consume narcotics. The fighter was sentenced to 4.5 years despite pleading not guilty to all the charges levied against him and claiming that all dealings with the victim were “consensual.”

The victim later met with members of the media and revealed that Emelianenko had damaged her life beyond repair. She filed a police report prior to the court hearings but continued to suffer harassment from Emelianenko’s friends, according to her lawyer. Nevertheless, Emelianenko was released early on parole in October 2016 and returned to MMA competition in 2017 as part of Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov’s notorious Akhmat MMA fight club.

The rivalry between Datsik and Emelianenko is a reflection of the state of combat sports in Russia, and how criminals are able to reinvent themselves as celebrated fighters by participating as modern circus acts. Despite Datsik’s white supremacist ideology and repeated racist and antisemitic statements, he continues to be lauded by combat sports fans as a colorful character and remains a draw at Russian events.

As it currently stands, one of the biggest Russian combat sports events of 2022 could be a showdown pitting a white supremacist with an extensive criminal record against a former MMA champion convicted for sexual assault.

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