Former Boxing Champ Vasiliy Lomachenko Pictured With Rifle After Enlisting In Ukrainian Army
Bellator welterweight champ Yaroslav Amosov also pledged to join Ukraine’s fight against invading Russian forces.
In the wake of former heavyweight boxing champions Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko taking up arms to defend Ukraine against invading Russian forces, more of the country’s top combat sports athletes have vowed to defend their homeland.
Vasiliy Lomachenko, a former three-division champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was pictured wearing fatigues with a rifle at his side in a viral photo posted to social media.
“The Belgorod-Dnestrovsky Territorial Defense Battalion has been formed and armed, the translated caption reads. “In the territorial defense, boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko.”
According to ESPN, the world’s current No. 8 pound-for-pound boxer was in Greece when the invasion began. After his return flight was delayed to grounding of air traffic, he flew into the Romanian capital of Bucharest and traveled through the country to reach his home and be with his family.
Yaroslav Amosov, Bellator MMA’s reigning welterweight champion, has also vowed to join fellow Ukrainian citizens in the fight. USA Today reports that the undefeated 26-0 fighter told fans he’d evacuated his family to a “safe zone” in a video posted to Instagram.
“Greetings, probably, many will think that I ran away, I’m hiding or something like that, but this is not so,” Amosov said in video released on his Instagram account, translated by Ringside24. “I took my family to the safe zone. Now I have returned and will defend this country as best I can, with what I can.”
“I love this country, our own. Russia came to our house and started a war here, many people are dying – innocents, women and children. We have to defend this country, and we succeed, friends. And we will succeed, because the truth is behind us.”
“I would like to address those who subscribed to me from Russia. What is shown to you on TV, you may not watch – this is not true. If I were you, I wouldn’t even watch your news. We are in a real war. I cannot understand those people who do not believe that Russian troops entered Ukraine. I see it with my own eyes, I hear it. Terrible things are happening here. We can do this.”
Vitali Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion and mayor of Kyiv, spoke of a dire situation in an interview with the Associated Press on Sunday night.
“We can’t do that, because all ways are blocked,” he said when asked about an evacuation plan should Russians take Ukraine’s capital city.
“All ways are blocked and right now we are encircled — everywhere is Russians and we don’t have a way to evacuate the people. And everyone who had plans to evacuate himself already moved.”
More from AP:
When Russian troops invaded Ukraine on Thursday, the capital city of 2.8 million people initially reacted with concern but also a measure of self-possession. However, nerves started fraying when grocery stores began closing and the city’s famously deep subway system turned its stations into bomb shelters.
The mayor confirmed to the AP that nine civilians in Kyiv had been killed so far, including one child.
A Klitschko-ordered curfew began about sundown on Saturday and is to extend until at least 8 a.m. Monday. His order pointedly stated that any unauthorized person outside during this time could be considered a saboteur.
“We are hunting these people, and it will be much easier if nobody is on the street,” Klitschko explained, saying that six Russian saboteurs were killed Saturday night.
A spokesperson later said Klitschko had misspoken about Kyiv being surrounded, as the mayor–known as “Dr. Ironfist” during his distinguished boxing career– walked back the statement on his own Telegram channel.
“In the evening, Russian Internet publications spread information with reference to me that Kyiv is allegedly surrounded and evacuation of people is impossible. … Do not believe lies! Trust information only from official sources.”