Oleksandr Usyk is one step away from an incredible boxing achievement, but his desire to win is driven by the love and passion he has for his country and his family.
Usyk faces Tyson Fury in a blockbusting world heavyweight title match in Saudi Arabia on February 17. Should he emerge victorious, he will have unified the belts at both cruiserweight and heavyweight. He will also become the sport’s first undisputed heavyweight king since Lennox Lewis in 1999.
Ukraine has suffered unthinkable hardship since the invasion by Russia in early 2022, but it has also displayed a bravery and resilience which has astonished the wider world. Usyk, you might say, embodies that and it is a torch he carries firmly.
Usyk fighting for Ukraine
Speaking to Ring magazine, he said: “Every morning when I get up at five to run, the first thing I think about is my country and my people.
“I think about our people that are fighting on the front lines and the sacrifices they are making for me and my family. I am going right back to Ukraine after the fight. I love my people. I want to give them joy in winning. I am fighting for an entire nation. Tyson Fury fights for himself.”
Family is the other massive driver for Usyk as he prepares to take on the massive ‘Gypsy King’ in the desert later this month. Specifically his late father, who passed away shortly after Oleksandr had claimed Olympic gold at London 2012.
Father is always with him
Usyk’s memories of his father are strong, particularly what his father told him. Those life values are firmly instilled in the Ukrainian genius to this day, and he will use the motivation they provide once again on February 2017.
“Every day, I pray for my father. He is the one who put me into this life, and he is the one who told me growing up, ‘Son, you can.’ It gives me a lot of motivation,” Usyk explained.
“Understand, my father is always with me. It is very true. I carry my father’s strength with me. I carry his photo with me everywhere. I have wanted this fight.
“Boxing wanted this fight. It gives me more motivation knowing the boxing world wants me to win. To win this, I don’t need to be heavy, I need to be fast, and quick. You never see a fat wolf in the forest.”