Oleksandr Usyk has revealed his house was ‘fired up’ and his neighbors ‘taken away’ as he defended Ukraine against Russian invasion.
World champion boxer Usyk was in London on February 24 when Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory and faced an arduous return to his family in kyiv.
Usyk eventually returned to his homeland and enlisted in a Home Defense Battalion, posing with a gun as he confirmed the news.
The 35-year-old was training for a possible rematch with British fighter Anthony Joshua, after dethroning the unified heavyweight champion in September 2021.
But those plans were put on hold as Usyk returned to Ukraine, however, Usyk will now defend his title with a rematch likely to happen this summer.
In a recent interview, Usyk opened up about how badly things are going in Ukraine and the chaos surrounding his trip to Poland after it was decided he would defend his title.
“I know they shot at our house,” Usyk told profiboxing.cz. “[They] walked through the gate, dragged away some of our neighbors.
“But I don’t know what it’s like there now. We cannot contact anyone. It’s terrible when yours run to hide in the basement with every rustle.
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“I had to cancel a direct flight to Kyiv, I was coming back via Poland, it took me a day to get to Kyiv, two more before seeing my family again and I calmed down a bit.”
Posing with the gun, Usyk added, “I picked up the gun, but that doesn’t mean I’m using it.”
Usyk was also asked about his feelings towards Russian boxers Alexander Povetkin and Nikolai Valuyev, both of whom supported the invasion of their country.
He said: “I was brought up in the Orthodox faith, which teaches us not to judge others. But the one who supports the war is for me a schizophrenic, a sick person.
Usyk is currently training in Poland for his rematch with Joshua, which is expected to take place in June.
The undefeated pound-for-pound titan also explained how the match can be used as a message.
“It is through sport that I can best spread our thoughts, the message of peace,” he said. “This game will be exceptional for me in that regard.”
Former Ukrainian boxers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko supported these thoughts.
“Through such an important sporting event, he could convey a very important message,” Vitali said.
“We don’t know if [Ukraine] will be here in three months. In fact, I intend to speak to Oleksandr to advise him to agree on a special message to convey during the gala dinner.
Wladimir added: “There are pros and cons that Oleksandr had to take into account, and I know it was not easy for him.
“But the fact that our Ukrainian flag will be flown, our anthem will be played and one of our country’s important emissaries will be in a world with the right mindset should be positive for us.
“We need support. The economy has been at zero since the beginning of the war. But let’s not forget that above all we defend the principles of freedom and free choice. “
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