Heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk insists he did NOT ‘run away’ from Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, as he urges fellow citizens to ‘unite together and overcome this’ after returning to his war-torn country
- Oleksandr Usyk has denied ‘running away’ from war-torn Ukraine
- The heavyweight champion was in the UK this week when Russia invaded
- He confirmed he had returned to his home country after the ‘work trip
- He said Ukrainians had to ‘unite together’ in the face of Vladimir Putin’s invasion
Oleksandr Usyk has insisted he did not turn his back on Ukraine after Russia’s invasion.
The heavyweight fighter was in England earlier this week on a promotional visit, during which time Russia launched its assault on his home country.
Usyk was accused by some in his country of escaping the conflict but he strongly denied the claim and confirmed he was back in Ukraine, adding he was worried about his country and fellow citizens.
‘Dear Ukraine and dear Ukrainians, some wrote about me running away. Not true, I had a work trip and now I’m back. I’m home,’ Usyk said in a video on Instagram.
‘Friends, we need to unite together and overcome this, because we are faced with exceptional difficulties.
‘I’m very overcome with emotions and I’m very concerned for my country and for our people. Friends we must stop this war and we must do it together.’
Usyk is currently preparing for his rematch with Anthony Joshua, who he beat at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.
The fight is set to take place in the late spring or early summer although no date or venue has been set.
Heavyweight Oleksandr Usyk has denied running away from the conflict in Ukraine
Usyk wants to have his rematch with Anthony Joshua (R) in Kyiv but admitted it is unlikely
Usyk said he would like for the fight to be held in Kyiv but admitted that was unlikely due to the situation in Ukraine and for financial reasons.
‘I would like to have the fight in Kyiv at the Olympic Stadium,’ Usyk told Behind The Gloves. ‘First of all, we have an un-stabilised position right now in our country.
‘Second of all, the people who are organising all of this see it more like a financial interest.
Usyk was in the UK for a promotional visit and denied he had turned his back on his country
‘So, at this point, Ukraine is not going to [offer] the most financial interest. We don’t care, wherever it is going to be.’
While he called for Ukraine to unite against the conflict, Usyk did not say whether he would heed president Volodymyr Zelensky’s call for anyone capable to join the army and help the war effort.
Former heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, who is now the mayor of the capital Kyiv, and his brother Wladirmir said they would be willing to fight for their country.
‘I don’t have another choice. I have to do that. I will be fighting,’ Klitschko, 50, told Good Morning Britain.
‘I believe. I believe in Ukraine, I believe in my country and I believe in my people.’
Brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko have sent an emotional plea to end the ‘senseless war’