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Wrestling / Volk Han

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"He may not look like it, but is the next big thing in the fighting world. Wait to see what he can do in the ring."
Akira Maeda about Volk Han

Volk Han (born Magomedkhan Amanulayevich Gamzatkhanov, April 15, 1961) is a Russian sambist, professional wrestler and Mixed Martial Arts fighter. Initially a freestyle wrestling star in his native Russia, he got in a whole new way when he was drafted to the Russian Army and put to work in the martial art of sambo. He won national and international tournaments, gold medals and cups, and served as a hand-to-hand trainer for both the army and the police. However, he didn’t see the spotlight until he was recruited by Akira Maeda for his professional wrestling promotion Fighting Network RINGS. Despite coming from a country with virtually no pro wrestling tradition, he soon turned out the promotion’s top gaijin, stunning the Japanese crowds with his uber-excellent grappling and ability to work technical matches with everybody. When the promotion transitioned into MMA, so did Han, who showed his true fighting skills by reaching the finals of the King of Kings Tournament. He retired after the demise of RINGS, but he remained as a MMA trainer, founding the famous Russian Top Team and serving as mentor for the lauded Fedor Emelianenko.

"The Wolf's Tropes":

  • The Apprentice: To Ali Aliyev in freestyle wrestling and Viktor Lysenko in sambo.
  • Arch-Enemy: Akira Maeda, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Kiyoshi Tamura and Nikolai Zouev.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The main trainer of the RINGS Russia team and a force to reckon on the mat. He was also influential in the creation of the Lithuania Bushido Federation (RINGS Lithuania), was instrumental in the creation of the Japan Command Sambo Federation and holds the position of technical adviser.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Invoked and exploited by Han during the tryouts held by Maeda to recruit sambists in Russia. When he heard the Japanese was coming, he prepared his flashiest and most complex moves, even if they were less practical, in order to show him that Han was the man he was seeking to put a show in pro wrestling.
    • He was also fond of pulling off Aikido-like wristlock takedowns in some of his matches.
  • Badass Boast:
    "They say I'm 'afraid' of fighting at the King of Kings tournament? They don't know what they say. I was in the Soviet Army's most elite parachute unit. I was tasked to defend my own city when the Chechen War reached out, and I did it by myself and with just a machine gun. If my knee allows it, I will fight, day by day. So here you have my answer: I'm going to do it."
  • Badass Teacher: To Fedor and Alexander Emelianenko, as well as Sergei Kharitonov, Bazigit Atajev and Mikhail Ilyukhin, not to mention he was an army and police instructor.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The normally polite Han had some rare moments of wrath in which he'd became scary.
    • In one of his 1996 matches with Masayuki Naruse, the Japanese struck him with a spinning backfist to the jaw who was clearly stiffer than intended. Han's response? Grabbing Naruse and tossing him over the top rope.
    • He also kept a submission locked on Hans Nijman after he tapped out for roughing him up too much during the match. Dick Vrij had to get in the ring and kick the Russian away to save his teammate.
    • Han famously slapped a MMA referee after a match in which his trainee Karimula Barkalaev was competing, as Barkalaev's opponent, Gilbert Yvel, was grabbing the cage and even biting him under the referee's nose.
  • Blood Knight:
    • He loved to fight, in his own merry way.
    "I'm an ex soldier and a former elite parachute trooper. I have worked for the national police and used my Commando Sambo in countless dangerous situations. I never fear the ring. I'm a man who was born to fight. I feel a great pleasure every time I fight since I was a child, and even if it gets me in trouble, it will not change after I reach 40."
    • Vladimir Pogodin is said to have said to Han before his debut "Don’t kill Maeda!".
  • Calling Card: He sent one to Nogueira after their match with a message of respect for his victory.
  • Captain Ersatz: Han became so popular in Japan that his semblance was featured in manga and video games. He is called "Wolf" in games like Battle K-Road and Saikyo: Takada Nobuhiko and "I. Petrov" in Funaki Masakatsu: Hybrid Wrestler, and the character Heizo Kikawa from High School Exciting Story: Tough is directly based on him.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Was not afraid to go after Akira Maeda’s tapped up leg in their matches.
  • Cool Old Guy: Cannot be stated enough. At his forties, with bad health and little actual MMA experience, he got funky with a young old Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the ring and took him to a decision without being put in danger in any moment. His apprentice Fedor Emelianenko sincerely believes that had Han been healthy, he would have hooked Nogueira.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: His exhibition grappling match with Yoshiaki Fujiwara, as well as his retirement match with Masakatsu Funaki. His worked matches with Andrei Kopylov.
  • Covert Pervert: He was once invited to the Japanese TV show Ring Soul and thrown in as a judge in a casting for ring girls. The ever polite and formal Han was shown giggling somewhat embarrassed and stating that he couldn't decide the winner among so many beautiful ladies.
  • David Versus Goliath: Every time he faced superheavyweights like Tariel Bitsadze or hulking bullies like Dick Vrij.
  • Escape Artist: Was an expert in reversing holds. During his fight with Nogueira, Han got caught a in a very tight kneebar for long minutes, but he avoided the submissions and managed to break the hold when it looked to be impossible. Antonio himself said after the bout that, even with all of his own grappling knowledge, he had no bloody clue how had Han escaped from his hold.
  • Evil Counterpart: Nikolai Zouev was considered one to Han. It is downplayed since much of Zouev’s nastiness was reserved for Han only.
  • Expy: Some fighters from the former RINGS system have been touted as his sucessors. Hideo Tokoro is sometimes called "Little Volk Han", while Daisuke Nakamura gets also compared to Han very often.
  • Foil:
    • To Andrei Kopylov. While Han was a skinny athlete with a penchant for controlling strategies, Kopylov was an overweighted artisan specialized in short bursts of explosiveness. Their looks were also the opposite, with Volk being slender and decently handsome in contrast with the chubby and bald Andrei. Finally, Han was nicknamed The Wolf while Kopylov was The Bear.
    • Also to Nikolai Zouev. While Han was a former soldier with extensive specialized Command Sambo training which allowed Han to adapt and use any means to put his opponents away, Zouev was a decorated sport sambo champion with grappling being the only weapon he could rely on as he wasn’t used to taking or using strikes.
  • For Want Of A Nail: If Han's trainee Fedor Emelianenko is to be taken seriously, had Han not been sick in his fight with Nogueira, he would have won the fight. Granted, Fedor might have been simply putting over his master, but when you watch the match and see Han trading holds with the young Brazilian, it is not farfetched at all.
  • Hero Killer: Defeated Akira Maeda at the finals of the Mega Battle Tournament, and later defeated Kiyoshi Tamura to win the Battle Dimensions league. He also holds more wins over Maeda than anyone else.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Andrei Kopylov, who faced Han in his debut, was his main training partner in RINGS Russia and Russian Top Team and made an instructional video together titled "Command Sambo".
  • Hidden Depths: He knows magic tricks, specifically card tricks, and even used to perform them backstage at RINGS.
  • Husky Russkie: Very subverted. With his wiry physique and thin face, he was the least husky thing imaginable. However, his strength and fighting ability were right up there.
  • I Know Sambo: Multiple national champion and police combat instructor, as well as a former freestyle wrestling champion. He is also knowledgeable in boxing, Muay Thai, Judo and Japanese jiu-jitsu.
  • Insistent Terminology: It was not sambo, but "Commando Sambo". His own personal mix of martial arts, however, was called by him "Volk Han Kakuto Jutsu".
  • Instant Expert: He grasped pro wrestling with minimal training and became excellent at its psychology in the amount of time most wrestlers are still struggling at even making a match. Not to mention his late adaptation to MMA.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Fast and nimble enough to nail flying entries to submissions, strong enough to toss people around with sambo throws.
  • Like Father, Like Son: His son Dhzamal is a judo and sambo champion.
  • Mad Artist: Han's matwork was both highly imaginative and truly spectacular, and yet almost everything he did was a move he could pull in a real fight.
  • Minored in Ass-Kicking: Aside from sambo, he was also an army boxing champion.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Averted in pure strength, as he had a lean build, but straight in fighting ability and conditioning. The old guy worked one of the most demanding styles at a nearly unmatched level for nearly an entire decade and rarely got injured.
  • Nice Guy: Polite and well-humored during interviews, even a bit goofy sometimes.
  • Opposing Combat Philosophies: When asked about whether he was interested in learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he just said nuh and stated that BJJ was basically Judo, and added that, in any case, he preferred sambo.
  • Overly Long Name: Magomedkhan Amanulayevich Gamzatkhanov. No wonder he preferred to go under a simplified ring name.
  • The Paragon: Aside from probably the best fighter of RINGS Russia before the Russian Top Team, Han was their only member who was fit and athletic and not pintoresquely overweight.
  • Real Men Love Muhammad: He is a Muslim and built a mosque with the money he earned from his time in RINGS.
  • Red Baron: "Russia no Ookami" ("The Russian Wolf"), "Senjō no ōkami" ("Wolf of the Battlefield"), "Majutsushi" ("The Wizard"), "Sen no Submission o Motsu Otoko" ("The Man of 1000 Submissions").
  • Sadist Teacher: A bit. He soundly berated Mikhail Illoukhin for taping out under Ricardo Morais's strikes.
  • Spectacular Spinning: Occasionally threw spinning backfists in his matches.
  • Spot Monkey: Subverted. His submissions and transitions were often done in the most surprising and intricate fashion possible, but he was able to perform them in harmonious, beautiful sequences.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Subverted, he is one of the few people who was both technically sound and could give entertaining performances in the ring. He even explains the importance of being a performer.
    "Before the KOK rule, we didn't think about winning first. I put my priority to how to entertain my fans by using my skills. The audience takes the time to watch our game and go to the venue and pay for it. They respect us. If you can't give a return to that respect for the game, you can't say you're a pro if you don't think about them who respect us."
  • Undying Loyalty: In real life, Akira Maeda, who he followed from RINGS to HERO’S despite bigger offers by other promotions. He was quoted as "I'm a soldier for Maeda. Wherever he go, I will go with him."
  • The Worf Effect: He tended to lose his first match against every debutant sambist in RINGS, like Andrei Kopylov and Nikolai Zouev, to show how dangerous they were.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Literally - he had the flu and had to be released from the hospital before the event to fight against Nogueira.