The relationship between father and son is a covenant. As a son, there are certain lines you do not cross with your father. At the same time, there are things that only a father can teach his son for better or worse. There are conversations that only your father can have with you man to man and you carry them with you for your entire life. Side by side you both grow if you are lucky enough to have that companionship.
As a young boy you want your father’s attention and approval. As a man you need your father’s guidance. You need it more than ever. Even in cultures that are seen as hyper masculine it is clear that this relationship is intimate. I cannot think of very many relationships more intense and delicate than a father personally coaching his sons to become something elite.
One high profile relationship is between the Floyd Mayweathers. The damage Senior caused Junior as a youth is evident and a bit tragic. However, Senior’s instruction and methods molded one of the greatest boxers we have ever seen. Lavar Ball is another father who has a high-profile relationship with his sons. He, like Floyd Senior will tell anyone in ear shot how great their boy is.
I cannot say whether or not Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap was the same way because he does not speak English. Anyone with eyes however can see how proud he was of Khabib at all times. You could see his joy every time he cracked that hardened smile. You could tell how excited he was watching his body language as Khabib retained his Lightweight title against Dustin Porier last year.
Now that Mr. Nurmagomedov has passed, it may be a long time before we hear Khabib dote over his father in interviews. Khabib is surely hurt by the loss, but he was not left empty handed. Khabib still wields every technique his father ever taught him from a young age.
A common trend with all of the fathers I mentioned seems to be that they trained athletes who helped elevate the sport. No one has seen anyone do what Khabib does, as consistently as he does it and in a division this nasty. That community of fighters his father coached will also serve as his father’s legacy both in the sport of wrestling and in MMA.
Abdulmanap was more than a coach. He led prayer, practices, and the lives of many Dagestani athletes coming up. After learning both Sambo and Judo in the army, he gave the gift of martial arts to his son and others who we are seeing compete today.
Abdulmanap is on a high level. He is not just Khabib’s father, and he is not just a local coach. He was a senior coach of the Combat Sambo National Team of the Republic of Dagestan. Watching Khabib is watching his star pupil. The pupil he has trained for the longest and with whom he has the strongest bond.
Now he is in heaven at rest, looking down as his baby boy carries on the teachings that Abdulmanap left to him. Rest in Power, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov!
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