In a video message posted on Instagram, world heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk expressed his hopes for “victory” and “peace” in his native Ukraine in 2023.
“I want to wish only one thing - what I want, and what all Ukrainians want,” Usyk said according to Ukrainian publication Sport.ua. “We want victory, we want peace, we want silence in our homes. We want every Ukrainian who left because of the war to return.”
When Russia launched its war in Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, Usyk returned to his homeland and joined the country’s territorial defense battalion. He was later allowed to leave the country to prepare for his rematch against Anthony Joshua, whom he would defeat by split decision on Aug. 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) champion also launched his non-profit Usyk Foundation to help provide basic needs for those impacted by the war.
More than 10 months after the invasion, the United States estimated approximately 200,000 military casualties as a result of the ongoing war.
“You’re looking at well over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded,” Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. “Same thing probably on the Ukrainian side.”
As for Usyk, the champion is expected to face World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in an undisputed championship bout later this year.