Heavyweight Champion Oleksandr Usik speaks exclusively to CNN after joining Ukrainian Defense Battalion

Among them, 35-year-old Usik and 34-year-old Lomachenko won three Olympic gold medals and have since become one of the world’s elite boxers.

But now they are facing a very different, existential struggle for the very future of their country. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Usik and Lomachenko went to Ukraine, took up arms and joined the Territorial Defense Battalion.
Speaking via video from one of Ki’s basements, Usik told CNN exclusively that he should pay attention not only to the invading forces, but also to the robbers. He says he is ready to take his life if necessary.

“If they want to take my life or the lives of my loved ones, I have to do it,” he said. “But I do not want that. “I do not want to shoot, I do not want to kill anyone, but if they kill me, I will have no choice.”

Usyk’s manager Egis Klimas helped coordinate the interview եց translated for Usyk who does not speak English. Despite the terrible situation in which many Ukrainians find themselves now, Usik says that he is not afraid.

“It may sound sentimental,” he explained, “but my soul belongs to the Lord, my body belongs to me, my honor belongs to my country, my family.” So there is no fear, there is absolutely no fear. There is just confusion. – How can it be in the 21st century?

He is not in Ukraine for boxing right now, but honest art is still useful at the moment. “It helped me to be calm and mentally prepared,” he said.

Alexander Usik told CNN that

Both were out of the country when Russia invaded. Usyk was in London filming the sequel to the next video game.

He had planned to fly home a few hours after the start of hostilities, but when the airports closed, he flew to Warsaw, Poland, and drove almost 500 miles back home across the border to Ki.

Lomachenko visited a Greek monastery and returned home the next day. Instead of flying to his hometown of Odessa, he flew to Bucharest, Romania, then drove to the port for nine hours and took a ferry to Ukraine.

Their manager told CNN he did not know they were thinking of taking up arms until they were already registered with the Battalion. Former world boxing champions Vitali, who is also the mayor of Ki, and Vladimir Klitschko, have also taken up arms to defend their nation.
Elina Svitolina.  Worried about her parents, the Ukrainian tennis player says that she lived sleepless nights.

“Bombing around is crazy”

Lomachenko was scheduled to speak to CNN at the same time as Usyk, but did not respond to calls from his manager at the time. Early Wednesday morning, Klimas confirmed to CNN that Lomachenko was healthy.

He և Usik remain close. They are godfathers for each other’s children, celebrating the family’s birthdays together. Six days after the war, Usik knows that nowhere else in Ukraine is safe.

“The bombing around is crazy,” Usik said. “They had just bombed the city of Mariupol, one of my friends got a rocket on his roof. [The Russians] They do not play games. ”

As the fighting rages, the debate over whether Russian athletes should be punished for their country’s actions is growing. Usik chose not to weigh directly, assuming that there were innocent people on both sides of the conflict.

“The Russian people do not really know what is going on here. They do not see what is happening. They are the victims of their president. [Vladimir Putin]»:

Usik won the heavyweight title with a superb performance in September 2021 against former champion Anthony Joshua.

Usik has just become the IBF, WBA, WBO և IBO world heavyweight champion. In September, he defeated Anthony Joshua in a magnificent boxing show in London to win the belts. His manager says that the talks about revenge this summer are at an advanced stage.

The lightweight Lomachenko, a former world champion in three different weight classes, was set to fight George Camposos in Australia in June.

But it is clear that boxing is the last thing on their minds.

“I really do not know when I will be back in the ring,” said Usik, who spoke to CNN in an exhausted and emotional tone. “My country and honor are more important to me than the championship belt.”

Usik has three children, young voices were heard from him in the basement during the interview.

He says family, friends and relatives have taken refuge together. “When there is an air strike signal, we hide. Of course, it’s fun when we’re a lot here. we’m having fun. But we make ourselves have fun. ” They try to keep the children in good spirits.

However, in a separate conversation with CNN, Usyk’s manager Klimas stressed the seriousness of the situation. “They are in great danger. When the bullets start flying, the ball does not care that you are a world champion. The bullet just goes. through. “

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