Former heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko has enlisted in Ukraine’s reserve army saying that love for his country compelled him to defend it.
Klitschko, who is the longest reigning heavyweight champion in history, and dominated the boxing scene with his brother Vitali for over a decade, joined the reserve army on Wednesday, February 2.
Ukraine has been preparing for a possible military attack after Russia assembled hundred thousand of troops near Ukraine’s borders in recent weeks, though Moscow says it has no plans to invade.
Both Wladimir and his brother Vitali Klitschko, the Mayor of Kyiv, were present during the opening of a Territorial Defence Forces recruitment centre in the capital on Wednesday.
“One district from here, my little girl is going to school. The school is currently closed because the ambassadors have sent the families home,” Wladimir Klitschko said, referring to a partial drawdown by some embassies.
“It is the love, the love for my city, my home, my family, my neighbours, my daughter that has brought me here today, that I took this initiative and am now taking part in this territorial defence.”
A diplomatic solution to the conflict with Russia is preferred, according to his brother, Mayor Klitschko. “If not, we have to prepare to take weapons in our hands, and defend the country,” he added.
Both brothers spent part of their boxing careers in Germany and have a huge fanbase in Germany .
Mayor Klitschko last week joined a long line of Ukrainian critics against Berlin, which has refused to supply weapons to help Ukraine defend against Russia.
“I would say I am grateful to Germany, because no other country – we are always very critical – has invested into Ukraine as much as Germany has in the past few years,” he said, speaking in German.
“Germany is the number one, and then all the other countries that supported us. I want to say ‘thank you’ for this support.”