Ukrainian boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko says it was “a clear decision, a normal decision” for him to join his country’s war effort against Russia’s invasion.
Russia began its attack against Ukraine on 24 February.
Days later, Lomachenko was shown wearing military uniform with a rifle across his shoulder in a post on his Facebook page.
“We have a lot of courageous people, people who are willing to sacrifice for the sake of our nation,” he said.
The 34-year-old was speaking to Reuters through an interpreter as he prepared for his first bout since the invasion – a lightweight fight against American Jamaine Ortiz on Saturday in New York.
On joining his country’s war effort, Lomachenko said: “That’s a clear decision, a normal decision, for any man when it’s time to defend his home country.
“During those first days, the Russian military advanced very rapidly, taking over one city after another and going towards Kiev. So you could not get a clear understanding of what might happen tomorrow in your area, in your region.”
Lomachenko, a three weight champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist, believes his experience as a boxer helped him to a point while he was serving for his country.
“Both physically and mentally in boxing, you have to have this danger awareness when you’re in the ring,” he said.
“You have to be constantly on the lookout in order to protect yourself, in order to not allow the opponent to inflict any damage.
“Of course, you cannot compare a boxing environment to when you’re out on the battlefield and you have rockets and bullets flying over you.
“But at the same time, I would think that I was more prepared compared to people who had no experience in any combat sports, so it gave me an edge.”
Lomachenko is returning to the ring with the war continuing and he added: “Every time you go into a fight, you represent your own country, you stand behind the colours of your flag.
“And this time is no different. It’s another opportunity to show the world who I am and to bring attention to Ukraine.”
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