As intense fighting continues in Ukraine following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Russia’s neighboring country, the stories of Ukrainians defending their country have taken over the news.
One of those who has returned to defend his country is two-time Olympic gold medalist and arguably the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer, Vasiliy Lomachenko.
On Thursday, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reported that Lomachenko was not in Ukraine, instead seeking refuge at a monastery in Greece. But on Sunday, Lomachenko posted a photo of himself in fatigues, rifle around his shoulder, in Ukraine. According to ESPN, Lomachenko returned to his home outside of Odessa after being forced to travel through Romania in order to reach his home country.
Vasyl Lomachenko has joined the Belgorod-Dnestrovsky Territorial Defense Battalion in Ukraine to defend his country from Vladimir Putin’s invasion by Russia… pic.twitter.com/LWFDcUhFAB
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) February 27, 2022
Lomachenko is 16-2 in his career and recently signed to fight George Kambosos for the lightweight championship on June 5.
He’s not the only boxer to stay in Ukraine and fight.
Former world champion boxer and current mayor of Kyiv — Vitali Klitschko — has taken up arms, as has his brother, Wladimir Klitschko.
“I don’t have another choice,” Vitali told Good Morning Britain when asked if he’ll fight. “I have to do that.”
'I don't have another choice. I have to do that.'
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) February 24, 2022
“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 wrote on Linkedin according to ESPN. “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.”
The sports world has reacted strongly to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, pulling a handful of future sporting events out of Russia.
On Friday, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) announced the removal of the upcoming Champions League final from St. Petersburg, Russia, choosing Paris as the replacement option.
“The UEFA Executive Committee decided to relocate the final of the 2021-22 UEFA Men’s Champions League from Saint Petersburg to Stade de France in Saint-Denis,” UEFA said in a statement.
“Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the provision of rescue for football players and their families in Ukraine who face dire human suffering, destruction and displacement,” the statement continued.
Also on Friday, Formula One announced it has canceled the Russian Grand Prix scheduled for September.
The soccer federations for Sweden, Poland, and the Czech Republic also said their teams will not travel to Russia for World Cup qualifiers.
“Based on the current alarming development in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, including the security situation, the Football Associations of Poland, Sweden and Czech Republic express their firm position that the playoff matches to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, scheduled for 24 and 29 March 2022, should not be played in the territory of the Russian Federation,” the federations said in a joint statement according to Fox News.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected]