While the world watches Russia continue its attempts to invade and conquer Ukraine, four prominent Ukrainian boxers have decided to leave their gloves in the gym and take the fight outside of the ring in their home country.
Oleksandr Usyk, Vasily Lomachenko, as well as brothers, Wladimir and Vitaly Klitschko, have all joined Ukraine’s national defense efforts in the past week to fight the invading Russian forces.
As the mayor of Kyiv – the capital of Ukraine – Vitali Klitschko has led from the forefront of the defense efforts working with both the Ukrainian government and the civilians of Kyiv to ensure the safety of the population as much of the country is currently facing.
“The armed forces of Ukraine heroically defend our land. We at Kyiv are ensuring the functioning of the capital’s critical infrastructure. We are doing everything to protect our city. Perseverance and determination. Unity and a cold mind! Only there we will stand,” said Vitali Klitschko in an Instagram post from Feb. 23.
Vitali and Wladimir have long been figures of Ukrainian heroism as the two heavyweight boxers both held world titles at separate times over the course of their careers.
Also joining the fight were Lomachenko and Usyk, who have taken roles as volunteer soldiers in their native regions of Ukraine.
Lomachenko is currently serving in the Belgorod-Dniester Territorial Unit after returning to Ukraine from Greece after the invasion began.
Usyk, on the other hand, put an approaching bout with former heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua on hold to join a territorial defense unit in Kyiv to help defend Ukraine’s capital.
To witness these four athletes put their lives on the line for their country despite making millions of dollars annually in boxing is inspiring to say the least.
In my opinion, it is a testament to the heart of fighters.
In a time when the world needs inspiration and heroism, these four athletes have decided to put everything on the line to protect their fellow innocent countrymen and women from harm, no matter the harsh consequences they may pay in doing so.
Some things in life are bigger than sports and the actions of Usyk, Lomachenko and the Klitschko brothers are a reminder that athletes are more than just the game that they play or the uniform they wear.
I hope to see all four leave the conflict in Ukraine unharmed at its conclusion and wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors.