Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk devotes his world title win to war-torn homeland
Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk devoted a historic victory that saw him retain his world heavyweight titles to his war-torn homeland on Saturday night.
The 35-year-old, who has served in Ukraine’s army, beat Britain’s Anthony Joshua on points after a highly-anticipated 12-round fight.
Usyk was praised by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after the boxer celebrated with a Ukrainian flag signed by his country’s soldiers.
“It was extremely important for my country, for my team and personally for me. I fought for the whole country and half of the world,” Usyk said.
“I devote this victory to my country, to my family, to my team, to all the military defending this country. Thank you very, very much.”
Zelenskyy joined millions of Ukrainians in applauding the win, which was broadcast for free across the Eastern European nation.
“Difficult, but important and necessary victory,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.
“Defending the title of the world champion is a symbol of the fact that all Cossacks will not give up theirs, will fight for it and will definitely win!”
Usyk is already considered a national hero by many in war-torn Ukraine, where he took up arms with the country’s defence force after Russia’s invasion in February.
Joshua, 32, missed out on a bid to regain his status as a heavyweight champion after losing the fight in Saudi Arabia.