Only a couple weeks ago, news broke of the tragic death of boxer Boris Stanchov. The 21-year-old Bulgarian had been using the identity of his cousin – pro boxer Isus Velichkov – to compete in professional boxing matches, going 0-6 over a year under the scheme—before passing away due to a heart attack after a TKO loss to Ardit Murja.
The latest case of a fighter using a falsified identity in combat sports is far less tragic, but somewhat stranger, and every bit as cautionary.
On October 6th, in Samara, Russia, Batuhan Akduman faced off against debuting featherweight Rafael Abrahamyan. Abrahamyan won the bout in the opening round, via rear naked choke, but refused to let the submission go—even as the referee attempted to pull him off Akduman’s unconscious body. Only it wasn’t Akduman in the ring.
As video of Abrahamyan’s unsportsmanlike conduct began to circulate, fueled heavily by longstanding tensions between Turkey and Armenia, the real Akduman surfaced—to make it clear that whoever it was getting choked out in that day, it wasn’t him. Turkish news site Gazete Duvar’da reports that the fighter in the cage was, in fact a 20-year-old athlete from Turkmenistan, who had forged Akduman’s identity for the bout.