The pioneers of Sambo were Viktor Spiridonov and Vasili Oshchepkov. Oshchepkov died in prison as a result of the political purges of 1937 after accusations of being a Japanese spy. Oshchepkov spent much of his life living in Japan and training judo under its founder Kano Jigoro. The two men independently developed two different styles, which eventually cross-pollinated and became what is known as Sambo. Compared to Oshchepkov's judo-based system, then called "Freestyle Wrestling," Spiridonov's style was softer and less strength dependent. This was in large part due to Spiridonov's injuries sustained during World War I.3
Anatoly Kharlampiev, a student of Vasili Oshchepkov, is often considered the founder of Sport Sambo. In 1938, it was recognized as an official sport by the USSR All-Union Sports Committee.
Sambo fighters (Sambo practitioners) are athletes who rival under the rules of Sambo.
Fedor Emelianenko, four-time World Combat Sambo Champion and six-time Russian national Combat Sambo Champion in the +100 kg division. Two-time Russian national Judo bronze medalist, he was the last heavyweight champion of the former PRIDE Fighting Championships and was the consensus #1 ranked Heavy weight MMA fighter in the world for over seven years.
The World Sambo Academy in Kstovo, the venue of many Sambo competitions
Igor Kurinnoy, a Merited Master of Sport, three time Sambo World Champion, a five time Sambo World Cup Champion and director of Borec Sports Club.
Umar Shokhzodayev former Russian sambo champion ranked kandidat master in the sport sambo and long time champion in the country
Andrei Arlovski, former UFC heavyweight champion. He was also the Junior World sport Sambo Champion, as well as a silver medalist in the World Sambo Championship and World Sambo Cup.
Vladimir Kjullenen, 1972 European Champion and USSR Champion, 1975 World Champion and USSR Champion.
Ron Tripp, 1994 World Champion and 7 times World Medalist capturing 8 US National Titles and 6 Pan Am Golds during his career (both FIAS East and West). A Judo champion and current general secretary of USA Judo. Tripp was promoted to 10th degree in Sambo in 1995 and became America's first International Distinguished Master of Sport in 1996. Also in 1996, he served as World Team Coach at the Tokyo World Championships. At the 1993 U.S. Sambo Championships, he scored a total victory throw victory over Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Rickson Gracie.4
Clinton Burke, NCAA wrestling finalist and All-American from the University of Oklahoma, was a four-time finalist in world competition beginning in 1987, when he earned a silver medal in the World Cup in Tokyo. He won World Championship silver medals in three different weight classes (62 kg, 68 kg, and 74 kg), closing his career in 1993 as runner-up in the World Championships in Kstovo, Russia.
Lance Campbell Sport Sambo World Champion (FIAS West). One of only eight grapplers selected to compete in the Ultimate Submission Showdown.
Martin Clarke, The Father of British Sambo, Multiple time FIAS British Sambo Champion, World Games Silver 1985, World Silver 1986, World Masters Silver 1997. He is the only person in Great Britain to receive the FIAS Gold Medal for services to FIAS. He holds the rank of Grand Master in Combat Sambo and Sport Sambo.5
Amy Ehlenfeldt, an accomplished US judo player; she won the 1991 FIAS World Championships in Montreal, Canada, becoming the first American woman to achieve victory over a female USSR competitor.
Aleksander Emelianenko, Fedor's brother, is a five-time Russian national Combat Sambo champion and three-time world Sambo champion in the +100 kg divisions.
Jason Gabrielson, Three-time World champion, one-time World Cup champion, Pan-American Games champion, Sixteen-time US Champion competing in all age groups (FIAS West). Only US lifetime undefeated champion. Was nominated for (but did not win) the American Sambo Association's Pioneer of American Sambo award. Is also a champion wrestler and judo competitor.
James Chico Hernandez, the first Sambo Champion to be featured on a box of Wheaties Energy Crunch.6 He is a 2000 FIAS West World Cup Vice-Champion,7 1987, 2000 AAU United States National Sambo Champion and a three-time British FIAS Sambo silver medalist,89 First Sambo Wrestler to appear in CNN/SI “Faces In the Crowd”.10
Scott Sonnon, Honourable Master of Sports in Sambo from the AASF,11 was nominated for (but did not win) the American Sambo Association's Pioneer of American Sambo award, World University Sambo Games Silver Medalist (not an official University games event), USA Grand National and Pan-American Sambo Champion, and USA National Sambo Team Coach.12
Zurab Bekochvili, World Sambo Champion, Russian/U.S. Sambo & Judo Champion & a leading Sambo authority in Florida, USA under American Sambo Federation. Zurab Bekochvili holds a notable victory in a 1993 Sport Sambo match against Scott Sonnon
Igor Yakimov, World Judo Champion, as well a world Sport Sambo Champion and a medallist at the Combat Sambo world championships
Irina Rodina, Russian women's sport Sambo champion, Judo Olympian, and mixed martial artist
David Rudman, USSR, champion of the first International Sambo Tournament, at 70 kg,1314 and first World Champion in the weight category up to 68 kg.15
Yury Rybak, Belarussian sport Sambo champion, and World Judo silver medalist
Andrei Kazusionak, Belarussian sport Sambo champion, European Judo champion, and Olympian
Khabib Nurmagomedov is a Russian mixed martial artist. He competes in the UFC Lightweight division. He is a former Sambo world champion
Dennis Siver is a German-Russian mixed martial artist. He competes in the UFC Featherweight division.
Amir Sadollah is American mixed martial artist. Fights as a Middleweight in the UFC. Has a black belt in Sambo.
Vinny Magalhães is a Brazilian mixed martial artist (UFC, M1 Global), ADCC champion, nogi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world champion & M1-Global Light Heavyweight Champion who stated that he currently studies Sambo leg locks.
Nick Diaz is an American mixed martial artist (UFC, StrikeForce, EliteXC) that has been practicing Sambo with his Bulgarian National Sambo coach for 12 years.citation needed
Hiroshi Hase, Japanese Olympic wrestler-turned-pro wrestler who learned sambo in an expedition to the Soviet Union in 1989.
Takayuki Iizuka, Japanese pro wrestler who learned sambo in an expedition to the Soviet Union in 1989.
Dean Lister, an American mma fighter (UFC) and 2x ADCC champion has a background in Sambo.
Stephen Koepfer, president of the American Sambo Association, he was awarded a Master of Sport of Russia in Combat Sambo in 2009.16 One of the US team coaches for the 2008 FIAS 70th Anniversary world championships.
Alexey Oleinik, Ukrainian mixed martial artist, and Combat Sambo competitor
Ibragim Magomedov, a Russian mixed martial artist.
Victor Nemkov, Russian World Cup champion, and emerging mixed martial artist .
Volk Han, Russian hybrid wrestling competitor and mixed martial artist. Also the first primary trainer for the Russia Top Team, the mixed martial arts team for which Fedor Emelianenko, Aleksander Emelianenko, and Sergei Kharitonov all were members.
Captain Strong in the Japanese version of EarthBound references it with his "Sambo-Mambo martial arts". In the American version, this was changed to "Mambo-Tango-Foxtrot martial arts", most likely because of the word "Sambo".
Although Sambo is a Russian acronym, exponents of the sport in the English-speaking world have faced problems concerning the word's (linguistically unrelated) racial overtone. Sambo representatives were forced to choose the "politically correct" spelling Sombo.17 The name had unwanted association in other countries, too. In Swedish, "sambo" is the term for an unmarried couple living together on permanent basis.18 Nevertheless, this "sombo" is not an official spelling. Instead, officials have moved to reference the sport with an acronym spelling: SAMBO. This is the spelling as made official by the official site of FIAS, http://sambo-fias.org/en/news/2012/8/2/Istoriya%20FIAS.19