As Russia cuts a swath of destruction through Ukraine, two Hall of Fame athletes are going to give everything they have to fight back.
Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir are members of the elite Boxing Hall of Fame.
As they made clear this week, they are also patriots.
Vitali Klitschko, who has been mayor of Kyiv since 2014, said he will not sit by to watch his city destroyed, Reuters reported on Thursday.
“I don’t have another choice, I have to do that. I’ll be fighting,” the 50-year-old Klitschko said.
Both Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko – sons of a Major General in the old Soviet Air Force – made millions as heavyweight boxing champs. They could be safely living anywhere in the world. Instead they are in their native Ukraine vowing to take up arms and fight Russia. Heroes. pic.twitter.com/H94QLWz5bx
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) February 25, 2022
As the city comes under siege, its citizens will be fighting back, the former boxer known as “Dr. Ironfist” in his heyday said — and he will be among them.
“I believe in Ukraine, I believe in my country and I believe in my people,” Klitschko said.
Wladimir Klitschko, a former champion and Olympic gold medalist, enlisted in the Ukrainian reserve forces.
“The Ukrainian people are strong. And it will remain true to itself in this terrible ordeal. A people longing for sovereignty and peace. A people who consider the Russian people their brothers,” he wrote in a post on LinkedIn.
“It knows that they basically do not want this war. The Ukrainian people have chosen democracy,” he said.
“But: Democracy is a fragile regime. Democracy cannot defend itself; it needs the will of the citizens, the commitment of everyone. Basically, there is no democracy without democrats.”
— Natia Seskuria (@nseskuria) February 25, 2022
“What we have heard today are not just missile blasts, fighting, and the rumble of aircraft,” he said.
“This is the sound of a new iron curtain, which has come down and is closing Russia off from the civilized world. Our national task is to make sure this curtain does not fall across our land.”
But amid fears Ukraine might have only days, or even hours, to remain free, Ukrainian fighters vowed to stand up against the Russian invaders.
Zelenskyy related the story of tiny Snake Island in the Black Sea, where Ukraine had posted 13 border guards.
On Thursday, it was approached by a Russian warship.
“This is a military warship. This is a Russian military warship. I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise, you will be bombed,” a recording has emerged of a Russian officer telling the guards, according to the Guardian.
The reply came shortly after from a Ukrainian officer: “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.”
Ukrainian border guards who died defending Snake Island when Russia attacked will all be posthumously titled “Hero of Ukraine.”
In an audio clip, they used an expletive and refused to surrender the Black Sea island when ordered to by a Russian warship. https://t.co/jz1iNDDw7u
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 25, 2022
“All border guards died heroically but did not give up,” Zelenskyy said.