“In comparison with war, boxing is child’s play.”
WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk has given his first interview since leaving the war in Ukraine to prepare for his rematch with Anthony Joshua.
Usyk spoke candidly to Blockasset and talked about how he first heard about the conflict in his homeland.
“It was 5am or maybe 4.30am when I received a message from my wife. I understood that Ukraine would close its airspace to civilian flights.
“We went to the airport to change our plane tickets and flew to Poland. In Poland we were met at the airport by our friends. He drove us to the Polish-Ukrainian border. There we took another car which drove us to another Ukrainian city, and we could go directly to Kyiv from there. I was gutted. I could not understand what was going on and felt anxiety for my family but when I got home and saw my family, my kids, my wife, my loved ones I felt a bit better.”
Usyk and former lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko travelled to Ukraine to join in the fight against Russia. The Klitschko brothers, including Kyiv Mayor Vitali, were already on the ground doing their part for the men, women and children of their nation.
“It is quite interesting that when I was a young boy, I watched them [the Klitschkos] on TV that I became personally acquainted with them and later represented their company,” said Usyk.
“Now I have very good, very friendly relationships with both Vitali and Wladimir. We call each other regularly and support each other in good times and especially in hard times. It is a real pleasure to mix with them. They are smart guys and I have quite friendly relationships with both brothers.”
The decision to leave Ukraine was not an easy one for Usyk but he found support from the siblings who themselves ruled the heavyweight division for several years.
“I had a talk with them and they both – Vitali and Wladimir supported me in my decision to start training for my next fight. It was not easy for me, but I took such decision so now I am here and I have already started preparation for the rematch with Anthony Joshua.”
Usyk then opened up about the impact the war has had on his friends and family.
“Luckily, I did not see much of war but what I see and what I know from my relatives and my friends is terrible. Some of my friends are missing and we do not know where they are now. Many of my relatives lost their homes and lost their friends and loved ones.
“Frankly speaking, all that is going on now is quite horrible in Ukraine. Every day I pray for the soonest possible end of this horror. In comparison with war boxing is child’s play. War is a terrible thing which I would not wish on my worst enemy.”
With preparations now underway for the second Joshua fight, Usyk is attempting to concentrate on the task ahead and forget about all distractions and future fights.
“I have to work out thoroughly during my training period in order to be able to show my best performance. To show all that I can,” he said.
“After the rematch with Anthony Joshua, we could start talking about the Tyson Fury fight. In other words, now I want to concentrate as much as possible on my preparation because at the moment I cannot stop thinking about the war, about my friends in Ukraine and I have to get rid of such thoughts as much as possible in order to be prepared well for the Joshua fight.”