Russian forces have invaded the country of Ukraine, but they are encountering some heavy resistance, not just on the ground, but online.
Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his intentions to remain in the capital and encouragement to citizens to stay and fight seem to have inspired some athletes and celebrities to speak out and take action to support their country.
Boxing’s Klitschko brothers, former heavyweight champions and Hall of Famers Vitali and Wladimir, are prepared to take up arms and defend their country, according to an article from ESPN.
Vitali, 50, is the mayor of Kyiv and appeared on the ITV program “Good Morning Britain” to declare his intentions. “It’s already a bloody war,” Klitschko said. “… I don’t have another choice. I have to do that. I would fight.”
Meanwhile, Wladimir, 45, is a member of the reserve army, registering earlier this month. “Now, the Russian president [Vladimir Putin] is using war rhetoric … he makes it clear that he wants to destroy the Ukrainian state and the sovereignty of its people,” Wladimir Klitschko said Thursday on LinkedIn. “Words are followed by missiles and tanks. Destruction and death come upon us. … We will defend ourselves with all our might and fight for freedom and democracy.”
Skeleton rider Vladyslav Heraskevych has also declared his intentions to defend the land. But many athletes who are unable to return are putting their names and star power behind campaigns like the letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to immediately Russia and Belarus from participating in Olympic events such as the upcoming Mar. 4 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
— Global Athlete (@GlobalAthleteHQ) February 27, 2022
Oleksandr Usyk, boxing’s WBA (Super), IBF, and WBO heavyweight champion, is scheduled to rematch Anthony Joshua, is in Ukraine as the conflict escalates. He took to social media to urge “No War.”
“Some wrote to me that I ran away; I didn’t, I was at work but I’m back, I’m home,” Usyk said in translated Instagram video comments from Russian. “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.”
West Ham football captain Andriy Yarmolenko has been granted compassionate leave by his team to deal with the situation, while Sacremento Kings Ukrainian NBA centre Alex Len was joined by the Denver Nuggets and 16,000 fans at a game last Thursday at the Golden 1 Center for a moment of silence for Ukraine.
Before tonight's game tipped-off with the Kings and Nuggets in Sacramento, both teams joined arm-in-arm in support of Kings C Alex Len, whose home country of Ukraine has been invaded by Russia.
Their message: "NO WAR." pic.twitter.com/qog1bx3Syl
— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) February 25, 2022
Some athletes however, have been forced to leave. Olympic gold medal boxer and three-division champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, is now in Greece. And former 140-pound boxing champion Viktor Postol has family in Ukraine as he fought last Saturday in Las Vegas against Gary Antouanne Russell, losing via a 10th round TKO.
The athletes are hoping their actions, combined with the actions of the United Nations and the security council, can repel the Russians to cease their invasion.
“The situation in Ukraine escalated a lot last couple of days, it’s hard not to think about it, but I try to focus on the fight and not for the news,” Postol said at the pre-fight press conference. “My family is there in the middle of everything. But I am going to have my people there and my family is safe.”
But for now, Ukraine is under siege. Here’s how you can help. Consider donating to one of the organizations below.