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April 20, 2013

The stories of two brothers suspected in marathon bombing

BOSTON — Tamerlan Tsarnaev practiced martial arts and boxing, even aspiring to fight on the U.S. Olympic team. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been on the wrestling team at a prestigious high school and won a scholarship from the city to pursue higher education. Neighbors recalled the ethnic Chechen brothers, living on a quiet street in Cambridge, riding bikes and skateboards.

After hours of only grainy images of two men in baseball caps to go on, a portrait gradually emerged yesterday of the men suspected in the Boston Marathon bombing.

The brothers, who came from a Russian region near Chechnya, lived together on Norfolk Street in Cambridge. They had been in the country for about a decade, according to an uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md.

Less was immediately known about Tamerlan, believed to be 26 when he was killed Thursday night in a shootout. He was the stockier one identified in video released to the public, wearing a black baseball cap and khaki pants. He was involved in martial arts and competed in boxing matches. According to a crime website, he was once arrested for domestic assault on a girlfriend.

“I don’t have a single American friend. I don’t understand them,” he was quoted as saying in a photo package that appeared in a Boston University student magazine in 2010.

He identified himself as a Muslim and said he did not drink or smoke: “God said no alcohol.” He said he hoped to fight for the U.S. Olympic team and become a naturalized American. He said he was studying at Bunker Hill Community College, hoping to become an engineer.

Dzhokhar, 19, attended the Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school, participating on the wrestling team. In May 2011, his senior year, he was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from the city to pursue higher education, according to a news release at the time. That scholarship was celebrated with a reception at city hall.

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