Heavyweight champion boxer Oleksander Usyk is the latest sportsperson to join the fight for Ukraine against the Russian invasion.
The 35-year-old joins boxer and close friend Vasiliy Lomachenko and the Klitschko brothers in vowing to defend their country in the infantries of the Ukrainian army.
Usyk spoke to U.S. media outlet CNN about his decision to take up arms and what the situation is like for his fellow Ukraine nationalists.
"If they will want to take my life or the lives of my close ones, I will have to do it. But I don't want that. I don't want to shoot, I don't want to kill anybody, but if they will be killing me, I will have no choice."
Usyk 👑 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/mw9HEL2fVh
— Sam Jones (@mrsamjones88) March 1, 2022
Usyk Defending Ukraine
It's been almost a week since Russia declared a 'special operation' invasion of Ukraine, with a reported 2,000 and growing number of civilians killed.
Usyk returned to his native country after being in the UK for a video game shoot. He and Lomachenko have been swayed by the scenes happening in Ukraine.
"My soul belongs to the Lord and my body and my honor belong to my country, to my family. So there is no fear, absolutely no fear. There's just bafflement. How could this be in the 21st century?"
The Heavyweight champion ended up flying to Warsaw in Poland after the Ukrainian airports were closed, and he drove nearly 500 miles back to Kyiv from there.
"The bombing around is crazy," Usyk said. "They just bombed the city of Mariupol, one of my friends got a rocket in his roof. (The Russians) are not playing games."
"Russian people don't really know exactly what's going on here. They're not seeing what's going on. They are victims of their President (Putin)."
The thoughts of boxing or training hasn't even crossed Usyk's mind. "My country and my honor are more important to me than a championship belt," he told CNN.