Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the alleged Boston Marathon bombing suspect killed on Thursday night, was an aspiring amateur boxer who hoped to try out for the United States Olympic team.
Tsarnaev came to the U.S. from Chechnya in 2003, and won a Golden Gloves novice fight in the 178-pound weight division in 2004. He told the Lowell Sun (via ESPN) at the time, “I wanted to fight in the Gloves to see how I would do. So far, so good.”
He went on to say, “I like the USA…America has a lot of jobs. That’s something Russia doesn’t have. You have a chance to make money here if you are willing to work.”
He was 26 years old when he died Thursday night after a shootout with police. Tsarnaev had a lot of success as an amateur boxer. According to reports he took part in regional bouts and even won the prestigious Rocky Marciano trophy as the New England heavyweight champion several years later.
Tsarnaev was studying engineering at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, but took a leave of absence to train for the Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions in Salt Lake City in 2009. He participated in the 201-pound division, but lost to Chicago’s Lamar Fenner.
In a photo essay leading up to the tournament Tsarnaev claimed he wanted to use boxing as a way to earn American citizenship and even said he thought he could make the U.S. Olympic team. But tellingly he also said, “I don’t have a single American friend, I don’t understand them.”
Tsarnaev and his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar were identified as suspects early Thursday afternoon and by Thursday night were in a violent shootout with police. Dzhokhar remains at large.