BOSTON (CBS Boston) – Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a Boston Marathon bombing suspect who was killed early Friday, once described himself as not having a single American friend and aspired to be a U.S. Olympic boxer.
As police continue the extensive manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hours following a fatal shootout that killed his older brother, more details about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s personal life and past athletic aspirations are coming to light.
In Johannes Hirn’s photo essay, “Will Box for Passport,” Hirn profiled Tamerlan Tsarnaev on his road to the National Golden Gloves competition in Salt Lake City. Throughout the 15-picture photo essay, which has since been made a private gallery, Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s life is on display, talking openly about his religion, his straight-edge lifestyle, his boxing dreams, and the difficult time he had adjusting to living in the U.S. for five years.
“I don’t have a single American friend, I don’t understand them,” Tamerlan Tsarnaev said in the photo essay.
According to the photo essay, Tamerlan Tsarnaev studied at Bunker Hill Community College in hope of becoming an engineer. He would take a semester off from school in order to train for the annual boxing competition.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev told Hirn that his family fled Chechnya in the early 1990s due to conflict, living in Kazakhstan before arriving in the U.S. as a refugee. There is no reference made to his brother, who remains at large for his suspected role in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and injured more than 170 people.
He noted himself to be “very religious,” saying that he didn’t usually take off his shirt when he sparred with female fighters “so girls don’t get bad ideas.” Tamerlan Tsarnaev noted that his girlfriend at the time, his sparring partner in a couple of the photos, is a half-Portuguese, half-Italian woman who converted to Islam. A devout Muslim, he said that he quit drinking and smoking.
“God said no alcohol,” he said to Hirn. “There are no values anymore.” He added that he worried about people who couldn’t control themselves.
In the photos, Tamerlan Tsarnaev looked to be enjoying himself in the ring at the Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts Gym. He told Hirn that he wanted to be selected for the U.S. Olympic team and eventually become a naturalized American citizen. He expressed his desire to compete for the U.S. instead of Russia, if Chechnya never became independent. He was indeed a fighter who showed promise, winning the Rocky Marciano Trophy, awarded to the New England heavyweight champion, in 2010, according to the Lowell Sun. His love for boxing was reaffirmed in the photo essay, saying at the time that kick-boxers “don’t know how to move.” “When you start kicking, it gets dirty,” he said in the photo essay.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev noted about his “European style,” and is portrayed walking from his silver Mercedes Benz to the Boston gym. He also talked about his love for the movie “Borat,” despite some of the jokes being too over the top for his taste.
The photo essay isn’t the only digital footprint left behind by Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Slate reports that Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s Amazon wish list has been located. Some of the books are about document fraud, organized crime, Chechnya’s history. One of the more curious titles, however, sheds light on the 26-year-old’s comments about not having any American friends: “How to Win Friends & Influence People.”
– Timothy Bella