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About the war in Ukraine, support from the WBC, position of famous Ukrainian boxers and functioning of the WBC Ukraine during the war

Have you foreseen that the Russian Federation would attack Ukraine? What was your reaction and first actions?

Honestly, I did not believe to the end that there would be a full-scale and such a treacherous and senseless invasion of Russia into Ukraine in the 21st century. I guess most Ukrainians didn`t believe it. When the first explosions erupted at 4:30 a. m., it was clear that I did not believe in vain.

First, I went to the office where I work together with a team of lawyers and the WBC. My partner and I decided to pay everyone their salaries ahead of time and to finish all urgent matters at work. There was widespread panic in Kyiv… There was heavy traffic and people were leaving their homes, taking only the very basic necessities.

I hastily returned to Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, where my family, four children, my wife, my parents, my wife`s sister, and her two children live. When I arrived in the city, not far from our house in Bucha, Russian troops were already bombing the airfield of Gostomel’ (Author`s comment: one of the hottest spots in Ukraine, today this city is almost destroyed). The feeling of collapse only increased… Realizing the great danger to my family, I decided to leave the city immediately. My parents did not want to leave home, but I insisted that we must leave for the safety of all our family members. Having taken only the essentials, we travelled to the West of Ukraine, which took 42 hours. I knew I had to save my family from certain death at all costs. Unfortunately, we didn`t have no space in the car to take my two pets, dogs, who are multiple champions of world exhibitions and best friends of my children, with us. My neighbor, who had stayed in the city despite the danger, helped to take care of them. In the meantime, we helped to evacuate some of our employees from Kyiv who had no opportunity to get out of the city on their own. Few hours later we would be in trap and maybe not alive today.

Having traveled a long way, we stopped in my native city of Ivano-Frankivsk, where I was born and grew up. We settled all together, eight children and six adults. Our neighbors cheerfully helped in any way they could and even provided their own housing for overnight stays and dwelling. Since the war had started, many families came to us from different regions of Ukraine: Kharkiv, Bucha, Irpin, Kyiv, Brovary and others. I gladly welcomed everyone and helped to find a place to live, for some of them I helped to get to the border and arrange their life abroad.
When Bucha was free from the Russian invaders, my close friend Roman, who has been fighting on the front lines throughout the war, managed to get to my house. The Russian invaders did not bypass it either. There were stretches of grenades at the entrance. The house was completely shot and robbed. The invaders killed my faithful friend, my dog, my champion Rakata. They blew her up with the grenades for fun and watched her dying. Another dog, Athos, was rescued. He miraculously survived and remains in a very serious condition under the close attention of doctors. He was contused from an exploding grenade and the debris covered his entire body with wounds. He was in such a condition for several days until the military rescued him. The veterinarians are fighting for his life right now. Driving through the streets of Bucha, one can now see the full horror of the atrocities committed by the orcs (russian soldiers hardly can be called humans). Just on the street where I live, 87 innocent residents were brutally murdered with small children (that’s only the number of people that were buried till 04 of Aprill when our Ukrainian soldiers rescued the city – now the number will be much bigger). There were many corpses all around. People were tied up and shot, then stacked in a pile, poured with petrol, and then burned, many children and women were raped many times and then killed by Russians…

Did your family stay in Ukraine, or did you manage to settle them abroad as well?

Even before the war, our good friends from the United States, Chico (the WBC ambassador) and Thais Lopez, invited our whole family to their places repeatedly so that we could be as far away from military activities as possible. When the war really started, they insisted on our leaving so that the children, wife, and parents would be safe. We received so many invitations from Los Angeles from Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Anna and Ivan Redkach family, friends from Miami, the Czech Republic, Spain, Poland, Hungary. My personal position and the position of all my family members without exception was unambiguous: we stay in Ukraine, on our land and we will help our country by all possible means: financially, informationally, volunteering, working with foreign partners and charitable organizations.

 You are the head of the WBC office in Ukraine. How does the WBC Ukraine representative work now?

The day before the full-scale invasion, we were conducting a master class to improve the qualifications of referees. All the functionaries of the WBC were very concerned and expressed their support for Ukraine. The WBC President, Mauricio Suleiman, contacted me the first days of the war. His family was very worried when they heard about the war in Ukraine. They immediately expressed their fierce willingness to help the Ukrainian people by any means they could. The World Boxing Council took a very important step in supporting Ukraine and stopped authorizing fights involving Russian boxers. This is a very important decision for the organization, and we are infinitely grateful for such deed.

Almost every day we talked to Jill Diamond, the Chair of the WBC Cares Worldwide Charitable Project, who has raised the WBC`s offices around the world with an appeal to help Ukraine. All members of large WBC family have expressed their concern and support. The functionaries of the WBC Cares office in the United Kingdom (thanks to Scott Welch) provide very special and very valuable help, which we appreciate.

Together with the Vice-President of WBC Ukraine, Serhii Vatamanyuk (the former coach of our Champion Oleksandr Usyk, the famous Ukrainian boxers Denys Berinchyk, Oleksandr Zakhozhiy and brothers Baysangurovs) and the WBC Ukraine team we activated the WBC Cares Ukraine Charitable Fund. Thanks to it we can travel to all corners of Europe to collect humanitarian aid. Earlier we organized charitable activities and helped people and children with disabilities, but now they need our help more than ever. Many volunteers from different parts of Ukraine have joined our team of volunteers, so the work has become much more productive and together we deliver humanitarian aid to people who need it. In particular, it was very important to deliver insulin to central regions of Ukraine, where there are a lot of children and adults who extremely need this medicine. Many other important medicines, military and chemical defense items, food and hygiene products were delivered to our defenders on the front lines, and this is just the beginning. We are facing a great restoration of Ukraine, so we will work diligently to help our homeland to recover as quickly as possible and bring peace back to every home.
My good friend, Valentyna Mazhbitz, a famous doctor, introduced me to the famous psychiatrist Dr. Harris Jensen from the USA, state of Colorado, who has been practicing in the field of private psychiatry for 25 years and has written the book “Ukraine`s Optimism Is Rising! Simple Ideas For Sanity, In Insanity Of War”. This book will help war-affected people to find a new life and get rid of the post-war syndrome so that they can continue to live happily. His book will go on sale on Amazon, and part of the proceeds will go to help Ukraine. The book will be available for free to Ukrainians, so many Ukrainians will be able to work through their mental traumas on their own.

What can you say about Ukrainian and world boxers, what was their reaction to the military activities in Ukraine?

Together with the WBC team we began an active campaign to draw the attention of world boxing stars to Russia`s military aggression in Ukraine. I personally wrote to my boxer friends and showed those terrible shots of killing civilians, babies, raping women and brutally destroying entire cities, maternity hospitals and orphanages, educational institutions and capturing nuclear power plants by Russian occupiers, which became a threat of ecological disaster for the whole world.

Many world champions have openly supported Ukraine. They are: WBC super-heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, world former absolute champion Teofimo Lopez, world former an champion undisputed Anthony Joshua, world undisputed champion George Kambosos, Vasyl Lomachenko`s ex-rival, Orlando Salido and many others. The boxer from Kazakhstan, Temirlan Raimkulov, supported Ukraine and raised the Ukrainian flag after the bout. Former undisputed world champion in the first middleweight Terence Crawford recorded a video with words of support for Ukraine. The boxing community almost unanimously condemned the fascist policy of our days’ “Hitler”- Putin and stood up for peace.

Particular attention should be paid to the position of our Ukrainian boxers. The most active position is held by the world-famous Champions Vitalii and Volodymyr Klitschko brothers. Vitalii (the “eternal” WBC champion), as the mayor of the capital, made it clear at once that Kyiv is ready to fight to the last drop of blood with joint efforts with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyi, and our brave defenders ensures brave defense of our beloved blooming Kyiv. His brother Volodymyr, who has dominated the heavyweight division for almost 10 years consecutively, has stood side by side with his brother and speaks to the world daily, informing about the brutal war in Ukraine, its horrific deadly consequences, and the need for world leaders to provide armed and military assistance in the war against the Russian aggressor.

Oleksandr Usyk and his wife posted video messages of gratitude to the Ukrainian militaries and appealing to the russian people to stop the war via their social networks. The first days of the war, Oleksandr joined the ranks of Kyiv Territorial Defense. Recently, Usyk`s wife told me that their home was occupied by Russian invaders. After much deliberation, Oleksandr decided to agree to a rematch with Anthony Joshua, despite the war. That way, Oleksandr could once again remind the whole world about Ukraine and donate part of his honorarium to help the Ukrainian army and the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Another our super-champion, Vasyl Lomachenko, also joined the ranks of the Territorial Defense of his hometown in Odessa. He even refused to fulfill his lifelong dream: to fight against George Kambosos for the title of the absolute world champion.

 

Many our famous boxers, including ex-world champions such as Andriy Kotelnyk, Denys Berinchyk, Maksym Bursak, Ihor Shevadzutskyi and many others joined the ranks of the Territorial Army and the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Many others as WBC Asia champion Vladislav Sirenko help people with voluntary team.

The ex-world champion among juniors, the owner of the WBC Youth title, the famous Ukrainian trainer Yuriy Tsybenko is engaged in helping the army in Kyiv, and his mentee, promising boxer Yuriy Vishniakov has also joined the ranks of the Kyiv Territorial Defense.

We should remember about the war on the information front, which is actively carried out by the Ukrainian boxers. Taras Shelestyuk and Oleksandr Zakhozhyi after their bright fights appealed to the world community to support Ukraine and express their patriotic position in their social networks, organize fundraisers and auctions in support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and collect humanitarian aid. Ex-WBC champion, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, and world-known Ukrainian boxer, Sergiy Derevyanchenko have repeatedly addressed the world with words of condemnation of the war and support to the Ukrainian people in the fight for their land. Sergiy Radchenko, a former sparring partner of Volodymyr Klitschko, organized a shelter for displaced people from Ukraine`s hot spots. His newly equipped boxing gym is now a refuge for dozens of people, and daily free boxing training sessions encourage children and adults.

A local organization, the National Professional Boxing League of Ukraine, takes an active position. The President of the organization, the legendary coach and father of professional boxing in Ukraine, Mykhailo Zavialov, constantly gives interviews and comments to the world and national media condemning Russian aggression and calling to support Ukraine. His deputy, ex-world women`s champion, Alina Shaternikova, is actively involved in providing humanitarian aid to the population and the army.

There are also the terrible consequences of the war, affecting the boxing community in Ukraine… Many young promising boxers who joined the Ukrainian army died defending our country. There is also the tragic case of the murder of the Ukrainian coach, boxer, Master of Sport, Oleksii Dzhunkovskyi. He was also actively defending our country and was a member of the Territorial Defense. The rashists killed him right in the boxing gym in Irpin, a suburb of Kyiv.

This war made many Ukrainians reconsider their life values, principles and views and understand who is a friend and who is fake friend or enemy. Ukraine has shown that its sons are real warriors with a warm heart and Cossack spirit not only in the ring, but also in defense of their native land, because they have the blood of real Cossacks, who were among the best warriors of the world in history. I am confident that we will win soon, and we will develop further the Ukrainian boxing and the WBC representation in our region.

Glory to Ukraine!
Glory to the heroes!