Oleksandr Usyk – a man’s man

Oleksandr Usyk from Ukraine is now the undisputed World Heavyweight Boxing Champion after defeating Tyson Fury in a ferocious championship fight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Both men were exhausted after the fight for which they were paid very large prize money, making it one of the richest boxing fights ever. Both men were undefeated before this fight. When he was an amateur boxer Oleksandr won a gold medal at the London Olympics. Oleksandr is much the smaller man being 40lbs lighter than Tyson, 6” shorter in height and with a 7 inches shorter reach than Tyson’s. The fight was very close and was decided on a split decision. An unusual feature of the fight is that both men are Christians.

Oleksandr is a quietly spoken man. His family and his country are very important to him. At the press conference after winning the fight he carried a Ukrainian flag and Eeyore, his eldest daughter’s favourite cuddly toy. He gently draped the flag over the back of his chair and placed the toy in front of him. He broke down in tears when he remembered his father who was a great encouragement to him but who died soon after he won the gold medal in London.

Oleksandr has been ready to fight to defend his country against the Russian invasion. On 26 February 2022, soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, he travelled to Ukraine, with two boxer friends, to join for a short time the country’s territorial defence forces. He has seen close friends joining the Ukraine army to fight against the Russian forces. Some of them have been seriously injured and others have been killed in action.

Oleksandr is a member of the Orthodox Church. Speaking at the ringside after the fight he said: “I thank God for the help he gave me today because he did give me a lot. My Lord is Jesus Christ. Now I’m happy. I want to go back home, go to my church, pray, and say, ‘Jesus, thank you’. I’m grateful for whoever prayed for me, because it’s many people. Thank you.”

Oleksandr is undoubtedly a man’s man. He lives in a country facing a vicious and callous invading force and is willing to defend his country against the enemy. He is a courageous and skilful sportsman who is not afraid of the fiercest opponent. He knows his total dependence on God, his heavenly Father, and Jesus, his Lord and Saviour, and their love for him. So, he prays to the living God, not only for himself but also for his family and his country. No that’s what a real man is like!

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