From fighting in the boxing ring under the shinning and glimmering lights of Las Vegas to the Ukrainian frontlines, former World Heavyweight Boxing Champions Vitali (the current mayor of Kyiv) and Wladimir Klitschko will now take up another set of lethal weapons (other than their fists) to defend their homeland.

The decision for the two boxing legends comes after Putin had announced a special military operation to invade Ukraine by air, land, and sea. Numerous military installations, air bases, and air defense systems have been destroyed, with thousands of Ukrainians heading to Lviv in search of respite and a safe place from the Russian firepower.

“I don’t have another choice; I have to do that. I’ll be fighting,” said Mayor Vitali, who had been dabbling in politics since 2005. The mayor, who has been busy coordinating with the police and the national government, said that he has full trust and belief in his people, stating that he believes in Ukraine and the Ukrainian people to see its independence through.

The Mayor, also known as Dr. Iron Fist due to his sheer knockout power, has been highly supportive of Ukraine joining the European Union as well as NATO, which he describes as essential to Ukraine’s political future and economic development, and has criticized former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych for destroying Ukrainian integration into Europe.

His younger brother, Wladimir Klitschko, who is also a legendary heavyweight boxer, had enlisted in Ukraine’s reserve army earlier this February in anticipation of a military offensive from Russia, stating that his love for his country had inspired him to also defend it.

“It is the love, the love for my city, my home, my family, my neighbors, my daughter that has brought me here today, that I took this initiative and am now taking part in this territorial defense,” he stated. However, he has also said that he would have preferred a diplomatic solution to the then-rising tensions. Despite this, the former world champion expressed his willingness and readiness to take up arms and defend his country himself.

Earlier today, he had condemned the Russian invasion, saying it was a blatant violation of international law. He then urged the public, “You can do something by mobilizing and organizing huge demonstrations. Make your voice heard. Make the voice of democracy heard. Say it loud and clear that international law and democracy are under attack, that war is the greatest evil, and that life is sacred. Also, say that while solidarity is good, support is better. Say that the march of imperialism must be stopped now. After all, whose turn will it be after Ukraine?”

“The Ukrainian people are strong. And it will remain true to itself in this terrible ordeal. A people longing for sovereignty and peace. A people who consider the Russian people their brothers” said the younger Klitschko in a statement from LinkedIn.

Both men have urged the international community to call out Russia and not let Ukraine suffer the consequences of a ‘senseless war.’ “I just want to tell you we must stay united against this aggression, against Russian aggression. Don’t let it continue happening in Ukraine. Don’t let it happen in Europe and eventually the world. United, we’re strong. Support Ukraine,” he added.

The two brothers, who aren’t just known for their boxing skills, are fierce lovers of their country. The legendary boxers were so successful with their boxing career that they had dominated the heavyweight boxing class from 2004 to 2015, a time known as the “Klitschko Era” of the division, as both brothers held all major titles. They also hold the Guinness World Record for the pair of brothers with most world heavyweight title fight wins, with the younger brother winning against US boxer Bryant Jennings in 2015. Vitali retired from boxing in 2012, opting to pursue and focus on his political career, while Wladimir retired in 2017 following a loss from British boxer Anthony Joshua.

Ukraine is no stranger to boxing superstars. In fact, many current world champions are of Ukrainian descent. Two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-division champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, known for his technicality and speed, had recently left Ukraine to seek refuge in Greece. Another heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk had been in London for a business trip. However, he came back to Ukraine as he wanted to support his country.

“Friends, we have to unite because it’s a hard time right now, and I’m really emotional and worry about my country and our people. Friends, we have to stop this war; all of us together,” Usyk stated in his Instagram post.

Viktor Postol, a former world champion who has a fight on Saturday against Gary Antuanne Russell in Las Vegas, stated that the Russian invasion has been difficult for him as he left his wife and twin sons in their home in Brovary, which had been targeted by the Russian army.

 

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