Unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk will be making his next defense for his country, instead of his belts, as he’s reportedly joined a territorial defense battalion in his home country of Ukraine as it tries to fend off an ongoing and mounting Russian invasion.
Olympic gold medalist and unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk is the latest boxer to take up arms in Ukraine.— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) February 28, 2022
Usyk's longtime friend, Vasiliy Lomachenko, also joined a territorial defense battalion over the weekend. (via @MikeCoppinger) pic.twitter.com/EoZrPyWdOf
Usyk posted this message about situation in Ukraine on his social media over the weekend, as translated by ESPN.
“If we consider ourselves as brothers, Orthodox ones, do not send your children to our country, do not fight with us,” Usyk, ESPN’s No. 2 heavyweight, wrote Saturday on Instagram. “Also, I’m addressing this to the President, Vladimir Putin. You can stop this war. Please just sit down and negotiate it with us without claims. Our kids, wives, grannies are hiding in the basements. We are here in our own country, we cannot do it any other way. We are defending. Stop this war, stop it. No war.”
We previously noted how former heavyweight champions Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko were to take direct involvement in the defense of their country, and it appears that Vasiliy Lomachenko has also taken up arms to play a part in the ongoing conflict.
Some things are just simply bigger than the sport, and it’s admirable that so many are banding together against what appears to be overwhelming odds, particularly considering the potential for the further escalation of violence.