Kazakh Boxing and Culture Share the Importance of Horse Meat | Feed The Flame
(WARNING: THIS FILM
CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT) (DANIYAR YELEUSSINOV) (2013 WELTERWEIGHT
WORLD CHAMPION) I’ve just arrived
in Kazakhstan. Since the dissolution of
the Soviet Union, the Kazakhstan boxing team has tallied an impressive 17 medals in 20 years. For a landlocked nation roughly
the size of Western Europe, it’s understandable
that the Kazakh people have relied on the horse
for centuries. But what might surprise you is that 55,000 tonnes
of horse meat is consumed every year
in Kazakhstan. Even the country’s elite boxers
attribute in part their success to the native cuisine, which includes large quantities
of horse meat and horse milk. I’m here to explore
how a country with a population of
only 17 million people built an international
boxing powerhouse, and why the country’s
most revered animal, the Kazakh horse, might be the secret ingredient. (FEED THE FLAME) (ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN) Imagine who you’ll fight
in the future. Imagine him and fight. Impose your initiative. Under coach Aitzhanov, the Kazakh boxing team has won at least one gold medal in every Olympics since 1996. And they continue to dominate
the sport. I’m here to find out why. This is a lot of food. Do you think
the traditional Kazakh diet played a role in making
your boxers so strong, so fast, so sharp? We Kazakhs
do not keep any diet. Of course it is crucial
to eat the right foods. Good quality foods. We don’t eat just anything. We eat foods
that give you strength. The number one food
in our cuisine is, of course, horse meat. So that’s number one. The horse
is the cleanest animal. It eats the cleanest grass. My name is Aliya, I am from Astana, And I am the dietician of
Kazakhstan Boxing Federation. Do you think that
the boxers’ diet is part of the reason for
the boxers’ success? I think, yeah,
it’s… Yes. Horses, they grow in open air, and eat just herbs,
in mountains. That’s why their meat’s
so healthy. Horse fat, it’s in the middle
of animal and vegetable fat. Horses have a special structure
of their muscles. That’s why their meat
is so lean, and their meat have a lot
of haemoglobin and iron. What’s the difference between
horse meat and cow beef? Horse meat is digested
eight times faster than beef. So I’ll get all those grams of
protein in three hours instead of waiting 20 hours. Yes. Wow. Why do you
like coaching boxing? Once I was a boxer too, and I had dreams and ambitions
as well, but now I am a coach, and now I am helping
other boxers become champions. The Kazakh boxing team has won
at least one Olympic gold in every summer Olympics
since 1996. How are you so successful? There’s a history
to Kazakh boxing. Besides that, Kazakhstan is also the ninth largest country
in the world. This means that our ancestors
made a lot of effort to maintain
this large territory. So this strength,
this stamina, this courage has been given
to the next generation through blood. Do you have a special bond
with Daniyar? He’s the team’s captain. He’s a very talented boxer
as well. Of course, that is why he is
like a right hand for me. He’s ranked number one in the
world right now, he’s favoured to win
in the Olympics, do you think he’ll win gold? He’s preparing for that. Preparing to get that. (DANIYAR YELEUSSINOV) (2013 WELTERWEIGHT
WORLD CHAMPION) I started boxing after
seeing the 2000 Olympic Games, when Bekzat Sattarkhanov
and Yermakhan Ibraimov became Olympic champions. Becoming an Olympic champion
has been my dream ever since. How does your life change
if you win gold? I guess there would be
great changes for the better. I’d become a national hero
of Kazakhstan. Like all our gold medallists
in boxing did. It’d be a satisfaction
for me, too, the fact that I’d set a goal
and reached it. (YEREMENTAU, KAZAKHSTAN) I’m at a roadside stop here
in Yerementau, Kazakhstan, about to meet a horse breeder
named Daulet. He’s been kind enough
to invite me to his massive steppe farm to
see what life is like out here, and also witness how he raises
thousands of pristine horses. – Salem.
– Salam alaikum. Daulet?
Yes, nice to meet you. Welcome to Kazakhstan. Kazakh people,
all of the time, have horses. That horses give for us meat, milk, it is our transport. So the horses,
for Kazakh peoples, is the most important animal. When you say Kazakh, in your mind comes horse. When you say horse, your mind comes Kazakh. The horse is our culture. The price for one horses
in Kazakhstan about… $1,000. – Wow.
– Yes. Do you think anyone’s ever
stolen horses from you? Ah, of course,
in Kazakhstan, it’s popular. – Yeah?
– To rustle, to steal the horse. But if you want to take,
come and try. Have you ever suspected
someone of doing it? Of course. Of course. What happened to them? – Not so good things.
– Not so good things? Yes. – Do you love them?
– Oh, of course. So you don’t want
to hurt them? Yes. – Does that stop you at all?
– Yes. It does? But, you know… ..Kazakh people like horses, and they like eating horses. Are you going to watch
the Kazakhstani team at the Olympics this year,
in Rio? Yes, of course. Wake up
very early in the morning. Forget about work, go to watch the fight. Do you think that
the horse meat, and the horse milk, and the tradition of
eating horses contributes to the boxers
being so strong? I think so, because
how I tell you, for example, our cowboys… ..they take just little piece
of horse meat, and this meat give
a lot of energy, everything that he needed. – There, there…
– Which one? – The mare?
– Yes. It looks wonderful. Are you ready to
slaughter your first horse? Uh, yeah, I guess so. They’re bringing
the horses together to catch one of them
for slaughter. I think he got one! They just pulled
her head west, and… our man here has the knife
ready to cut the throat. It’s important to say, “I am sorry,
but it’s not your problem…” – “It’s ours.”
– Yes. “It’s ours, but we needed
the food so, sorry.” Is she suffering right now? She has some stress
at the moment. Stress, yes. So we must move quickly. – Move quickly, OK.
– Yes. How are you feeling? – You feel… OK?
– OK. Yeah. It’s very quick. Yes. Doesn’t bother you? – No.
– No. Everyone knows
how to do everything. – Yes.
– How to cut it, – skin it, gut it.
– Yes. Chop it up, separate it…
Everybody knows. Yes, of course, of course. I think there’s a lot
more respect in this way of
killing and eating this animal that just gave its life
for you. Something actually really kind
of beautiful and respectful about watching Daulet
and his family get in a circle around this horse,
and saying, “Thank you.” I think that put me at ease, in terms of…
how I felt about it. But then they sliced open
the gut and that kind of… That’s when
the squeamy stomach started. Now we’re about to drink
some salmal, which is horse milk.
Fresh horse milk. Fresh horse milk. – Cheers.
– Cheers. – How?
– Wow. – You like it?
– Yeah. – Cool!
– Thank you. It’s so sweet. Yes, you can taste the grasses. – Yeah.
– The grass that she eat. Yeah. And this is? – This is kumis.
– It’s fermented. – So there’s some alcohol? OK.
– Yes. Yes. I like the salmal
a lot better, but this is really interesting. Specific. Kumis is specific. Yeah, it’s like milk with
apple cider vinegar in it. It’s kind of hard to drink,
it’s like… ..a shot of sour bitterness
in your mouth. It’s helping for stomach,
for your, how you say… – Your respiratory system?
– Your respiratory system, – for everything, so…
– OK. Drink it! This is a beshbarmak, the most important meal
for Kazakhs. Beshbarmak means five fingers. You must eat by hand. Ah. And I want to present you
brother, Koshara. – Kurcha?
– Koshara. – Karshara?
– Ko-sh-ra. – Kar-shra?
– Ko-sha-ra, ra! – Kosh-ra?
– Ra! – Ra.
– Ra. – Ra.
– Koshara. Nice to meet you. Koshara, this is Paul. Paul. This is kazy,
this is the ribs. It’s very important
how much fat. Next, this piece we give
for the most important guest. This is shuzhuk. Shuzhuk,
traditional Kazakh sausage. Take it, you must eat it. – Together with fat.
– Together. – Yes!
– OK. – It’s important.
– OK. Eat it together. Taste it. Wow. – It like melts in your mouth.
– Yes! – It’s buttery.
– Yes. – It’s delicious.
– Yes. – Start to understand Kazakh?
– I do. – I could eat this a lot.
– Yeah. Yeah, it’s a treat to
get to taste it this fresh. Yes. Organic without feedlots,
with everything. Just on the… This horse ran on the pasture,
eat just on the grass. – For Kazakhstan.
– For Kazakhstan. The Kazakh horse is
a prized possession, and as such its meat
is sourced, butchered, and sold as ethically
as possible. Kazakh meat is never frozen, so the time between slaughter
and consumption is relatively quick. Before the horse meat
can be sold on the market, it undergoes a thorough,
detailed inspection process. Very carefully,
the sample is tested for any disease or radiation. Then the horse meat is stamped
with approval by the head of quality control, before finally being able
to sell for profit here, in one of the
most reputable meat markets in Astana. We’re at a meat market
right now, waiting on Daniyar to come
pick out which cuts of meat we’re going to have for lunch, and, uh, everyone is so cheery
and friendly. (DANIYAR YELEUSSINOV) (2013 WELTERWEIGHT WORLD
CHAMPION) – Hey, Paul. How are you?
– What’s up, man? – How are you doing?
– Good, you? Yeah, yeah! Thanks for
inviting me to have lunch. We are cooking beshbarmak.
Let’s go over there. – Beshbarmak?
– Beshbarmak. – Beshbarmak, OK.
– BESH-barmak. – Ah, besh barmak.
– Yeah. One kilogram of meat
costs 1,800, I’ll give you one for 1,700… Your discount is quite small, why don’t you give us
a bigger one? – 1,600 tenge then, OK?
– OK. You come any day,
I’ll give a discount. Welcome. – My house.
– Yeah? Are they fighters? – This one’s a fighter.
– Yeah? Show us our kicks, Abilyok. Whoa! One more time. Oooh! This guy is strong! – Wow.
– His father is strong. Heavyweight! He’s a professional
in California. This is my father and mama. I saw you yesterday at the gym. My collection… – Oh, wow.
– Yeah. This is the collection of
trophies and medals that Daniyar has won. He’s spent his whole life
competing… Not competing, winning. From when he was
15 years old, he was already
a boxing champion. There’s only one missing. The one from the Olympics. (GALIYA YELEUSSINOV
DANIYAR’S MOTHER) Did Daniyar cry a lot
when he was a baby? No, no. No? Stoic, strong, tough. (ALINA AITENOVA
DANIYAR’S WIFE) – It smells amazing.
– Fat. It’s the fat that gives it
the flavour, yeah. Kurt… This is a Kazakh
national dish as well. Then we have baursaks. And irimschik. We have irimschik, steamed. To prove that the food
is not poisoned, the host should try it first. (MARAT YELEUSSINOV
DANIYAR’S FATHER) You are a celebrity,
a world champion. How does it feel to have
your son represent Kazakhstan at the Olympics? Of course, I’m very happy,
for raising a son like this. For raising him a sportsman. For he is going
to hold our flag. For making our people
known to the world, I’m happy.
I feel that I’m happy. What would it mean for your
family, and Kazakhstan, to win gold? It would be our common victory
for the parents who raised me, my family who was near me… It wouldn’t be my sole victory, but the victory of my family,
my people. It will be
our common happiness. As members of
the boxing community told me, the key to their success
is a combination of factors. Their strong national
pride that roots deep, the nutritional value
of their diet, and their total devotion
to the sport they love. For centuries,
nomads depended on their horses for transportation,
food and survival. The horse is the
fundamental tool they needed to defend themselves,
and preserve their lands. Kazakhstan’s elite boxers
possess an ancient spirit of tenacity and will
that drives their success. Like the powerful horses
that roam the region, the Kazakh boxers embed
the same fighting spirit, muscular power, and dominant strength. This unity between man and
beast remains unparalleled in any other culture. (BOXING. MEN’S WELTERWEIGHT) (DANIYAR YELEUSSINOV) (WINNER BY POINTS)