Tamerlan Tsarnaev: Boston Bombing Suspect Was a Boxer, Had No American Friends

Much of the information circulated around the internet about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the suspected Boston Marathon bomber who was killed in a shoot out with police, comes from a single source. In 2010, photographer Johannes Hirn documented Tsarnaev’s boxing, as he was a Golden Gloves competitor hoping to someday qualify for the Olympic boxing team. An immigrant from Chechnya who spent time in Kyrgyzstan, Tsarnaev did not have full citizenship, and expressed an interest in using boxing to become an American citizen. (Hence the title of the piece: “Will Box for Passport.”) 

Though the photoessay has since been made private (though it is still available in its original publication for The Comment, Boston University's graduate student magazine, here), Hirn’s piece shows an unexpected side of the suspected Boston bomber. 

Taken at Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts Center in Boston, the photo essay paints a fairly mundane picture of Tsarnaev’s everyday life and passions, with few clues as to what could have led him to instigate the Boston Marathon bombing.


Tsarnaev’s girlfriend, pictured with him below, was a important part of his life. She converted to Islam for him, according to the essay. In Tsarnaev’s words, "She's beautiful, man!" The Guardian reports that he was arrested in 2009 for domestic assault of his girlfriend.


Hirn’s narrative paints Tsarnaev as a devoted Muslim, dedicated to his religious practices. He says that he rarely takes his shirt off because he "is very religious," and doesn't want to give girls the wrong idea.  


Tsarnaev was a boxer through and through, dismissive of other fighting styles. “When you start kicking, it gets dirty. That’s what I think,” he commented. On k ickboxers: “They don’t know how to move.”


In spite of his desire for American citizenship, Tamerlan says, "I don't have a single American friend, I don't understand them."


The article also provides more benign information about Tamerlan: He was enrolled at Bunker Hill Community College, pursuing a degree in engineering, and enjoyed the movie Borat, though he found some of the jokes to be “a bit much.”

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Hannah Kapp-Klote

Progressive, midwestern, overzealous adjective user.

MORE FROM

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.

Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort now to testify before Senate committee behind closed doors

Trump Jr. and Manafort have avoided a subpoena and will testify behind closed doors — for now.

Hope Hicks reportedly tried to rein Trump in during explosive ‘Times’ interview. It didn’t work.

The low-profile Trump Whisperer is one of the few in the president's orbit to enjoy job security.

Scaramucci once asked Obama if he’d be softer on Wall Street. It didn’t end well.

The exchange came during a CNBC town hall on the financial crisis, two years into Obama’s presidency.

Trump blasts Hilary Clinton, Comey and ‘Amazon Washington Post’ in tweet storm

He also defended Don Jr. and called Democrats "obstructionists" with "no ideas."

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.

Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort now to testify before Senate committee behind closed doors

Trump Jr. and Manafort have avoided a subpoena and will testify behind closed doors — for now.

Hope Hicks reportedly tried to rein Trump in during explosive ‘Times’ interview. It didn’t work.

The low-profile Trump Whisperer is one of the few in the president's orbit to enjoy job security.

Scaramucci once asked Obama if he’d be softer on Wall Street. It didn’t end well.

The exchange came during a CNBC town hall on the financial crisis, two years into Obama’s presidency.

Trump blasts Hilary Clinton, Comey and ‘Amazon Washington Post’ in tweet storm

He also defended Don Jr. and called Democrats "obstructionists" with "no ideas."