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One of Ukraine’s most talented young martial artists has reportedly been killed along with the rest of his family in a Russian airstrike on the city of Sumy.
Artyom Priymenko, 16, was a champion in Sambo, a Russian martial art loved by President Vladimir Putin, who has called for it to be included in the Olympics, East2West News reported.
The teen was killed along with his father Vitaly, mother Ekaterina, paternal grandmother and two younger brothers Egor and Kirill in the airstrike on the northeastern city Monday, his coach Evgeny Leonenko told the outlet.
Fifteen other people were killed in the attack, according to the report.
“This is a great sorrow for the family of Sambo wrestlers, his relatives and for all of us,” Leonenko said.
“Artyom was a multiple winner of the Ukrainian Sambo Championships,” he told East2West. “Last year he won a gold medal in Kherson in the 88 kilogram weight.
“He won a place in the Ukrainian national team for the World Cup in The Netherlands. He was very promising,” Leonenko added.
Artyom and his family were killed several hours before a humanitarian corridor was opened to allow civilians to evacuate from the city of about 260,000 residents, the report said.
Sambo, which originated in the former Soviet Union, is an acronym for words that translate to “self-defense without weapons.”
Putin, a judo and Sambo aficionado, has vowed to make Artyom’s martial art an Olympic sport.
Vasily Shestakov, 68, president of the International Sambo Federation and Putin’s ex-coach, said the Kremlin leader could have been a top-level competitor if he had not become a KGB spy.
“Sambo and judo may have lost a great athlete, but the country has found a great president,” he reportedly said once.