“That’s practically all he did.” Usyk spoke about the role of his father in his life


The holder of three of the four main titles in the heavyweight division (over 90.7 kg), the former absolute champion of the heavyweight division (up to 90.7 kg) Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) in
interview told British journalists about his childhood, life in Simferopol, Chernigov and the first sports.

Also in the conversation, the unified champion with warmth and genuine emotions recalled the stories of his now deceased father, who passed away after Usyk won the Olympic gold medal in London in 2012.

Can I go back to your childhood? How important was sport and also boxing? What was your childhood like?

— I was born in Simferopol. Until the age of 6 I lived there. Then, when I was 6 years old, we moved from Simferopol to Chernihiv, where my mother is from. And there I began to practice. When I went to school there, I started playing football. My relatives were into horses. I went to the brigade, helped them. And when I was in the second grade, I got very sick. I had double pneumonia there. The most terrible disease was that the doctor told my mother that I might not survive. I was in the hospital for almost a year. 2 months in hospital, 2 weeks at home, 1 month in hospital, 1 week at home. So that was the year. My grandmother took me to church. Well, I was just curious. I watched services there, I liked the smell of incense, I went there and looked at the icons. I once prayed myself, but my family cannot be said to be strongly religious at all. They didn’t go to church.

There I had push-ups, squats, I ran there. And from this began some kind of sports path. But there was nothing to do in the village. The only thing was football. I also played football, and it is clear that there I rode horses, swam, tempered myself, poured cold water on it. But in 2002 we returned back to the Crimea. And there I already went to play in a professional team. And there I studied until my father, who is no longer [крестится], the kingdom of heaven to him … But he, this is the person who always motivated and forced him to study and study. It was he who did almost everything that I have now, put those life priorities in me – this is family, this is sports, this is study. He was in the military, by the way. My mother really did not like it when he taught me to handle a knife, to fight. My mom was always screaming, like, “Sasha will grow up to be some kind of bandit.” And he said this: “Well, go quickly into the house! If he knows how to do this, he will not use it on anyone. And if you need to protect someone, then on the contrary, he will do it.”

What Usyk does during the day and week: the champion – about the regime

Is your father a hero?

– Yes. I often think of him and I miss him very much. [вытирает слёзы]. When he was already sick and when I was in London at the Olympic Games, the final was already. And he didn’t call me until the final, nothing. We didn’t talk to him for about two or three days. And when I had already won, I returned to the room and he dialed me. And we talked on the phone for an hour. Well, it never happened that I talked to him on the phone for an hour there. And you know how he would say goodbye to me [вытирает слёзы].

He would be proud of you.

– Very. But he never told me that. And he never told me that he loved me, although I know that he told his other friends there that he loved me very much. These are the difficulties of raising the Soviet Union, that a man should be somehow tough, should not show his emotions. The man is a flint and all that. And I never once heard him say that I love you or anything. Even though I knew it, I wanted to hear it. I wanted some support, but I love him very much, I thank him and continue to love him. Every day I tell my boys how much I love them, how cool they are, how the best they are. Every day. So I talk to them on the phone, and I tell them about it so that they know about it. I, as a father, everything that is required of me, I will do all this for them, and I do all this for them.