Oleksandr Usyk: ‘In the first month of war I lost 10lb, but now feel incredibly strong’ | Donald McRae

The shadow of war still hangs over the heavyweight world champion as he prepares to defend the belts he took from Anthony Joshua in their Saudi Arabia rematch

“It was the day she turned 12 and so of course she cried a bit,” Oleksandr Usyk says quietly as he remembers how his daughter Yelizaveta’s birthday was overshadowed earlier this year, on 24 February, the day that Russia invaded Ukraine. The world heavyweight champion runs his hand through his damp hair, which is cut in the style of a Cossack warrior, and for a moment it feels as if he is back home on that terrible winter morning when the first bombs rained down.

“My wife spoke to her, explaining what had happened, and soon my daughter understood very well what we are all facing in Ukraine,” Usyk says. “It was difficult but she got it and the main thing is that she is safe now. She will be OK.”

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