Boxers provide an example for politicians

Mikhail Simonov, exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
Boxers provide an example for politicians

Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk defeated the Russian Murat Gassiev in the 12-round fight in the Moscow Olympic sports complex and became the absolute world champion in the cruiserweight division. An outstanding sportsman claimed all four cruiseweight title belts: the World Boxing Council (WBC), the World Boxing Organization (WBO), the World Boxing Association (WBA) and the International Boxing Federation (IBF), simultaneously being presented RING Magazine's prestigious award - the Muhammad Ali Trophy.

Oleksandr Usyk's victory was convincing. It could not be more convincing. Already three rounds before the end of the fight it was clear that in order to win Gassiev must knock out the Ukrainian. Otherwise, it was impossible to win back the point gap. But the risky Russian almost barely missed the knockout blow. As usual in such cases, the national flag of Ukraine was raised on the flagpole accompanied by the national hymn. And this all began...

Oleksandr Usyk is a great boxer and a modest young man, who has determined his current place. It's sport. That's all. Usyk, being a citizen of Ukraine, lives in Crimea and responds harshly to journalists' provocative questions of who the peninsula's belongs to. He tries to nip any question on this topic in the bud, and, according to the journalists talking to him, tries to return the interview back on track, to feel comfortable, to answer questions more easily. Again, it's sport as well.

His fight with the Russian boxer Murat Gassiev could not be politically non-motivated, despite all the efforts of athletes, organizers, officials of boxing federations etc. It was clear from the beginning. The main task, obviously, was the minimization of this very politicization. Especially when, contrary to the plan, they failed to hold the battle in Saudi Arabia and organize it in Russia after long and difficult negotiations.

Then Ukraine's Minister of Youth and Sports Igor Zhdanov announced on the eve of the battle that the government will not cover travel and prize expanses to Ukrainian judoists who became winners of the European Championship in Yekaterinburg and ignored their ban to visit competitions in Russia. Equally, like to any other Ukrainian athletes.

The professional boxing backstage does not provide for the state participation in paying bonuses and rewarding. It is voluntary. But the context of the Ukrainian minister's statement was obvious. And it stirred up long-standing suspicions that the Ukrainian national football team looked so weak-willed in the second half of the decisive match of the World Cup qualifier against Croatia precisely because of its unwillingness to get in trouble. That is, in case of winning, the team of Ukraine was to go to Russia's World Cup. The authorities could lower the barrier for political reasons, and then the national team would face the threat of disqualification, and the national federation - the threat of large fines. The second half's bad performance, with the first one being quite decent and meaningful, caused bewilderment among many football fans. However, Ukraine's defeat to Croatia's team 0: 2 saved them from "doubts". They did not go to Russia legally. But  raised questions regarding their actions in the last 45 minutes and suspicions of deliberate failure.

At first, Oleksandr Usyk's team also tried to avoid competing in Russia. But boxing is a sport where who pays the good piper calls the tune. In this case, they would give the money necessary for the fight only if the boxers enter the Moscow ring. They had to agree. Although, the Ukrainian boxer admitted that he didn't care much about the boxing venue . He meant that a strong one will prove his superiority anywhere in the world. However, politicians grasped at these words, interpreting them in their own way. The Ukrainian ones - saw in the boxer's words indifference to the country's fate, the Russian ones - admitting Kiev was wrong about the political conflict, but to a much lesser extent.

But raising the Ukrainian flag and the national anthem in the Olympic sports complex left President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko with ecstatic feelings. "The anthem of Ukraine, which was playing before the start of the boxing match between Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev, is a symbol of the Ukrainian struggle," Poroshenko wrote in Twitter before the battle. "I did not doubt Usyk for a second, Ukraine is proud of you ... The anthem of Ukraine, which was playing in the Moscow Olympic sports complex, where the battle took place, is a sign of the approaching Ukrainian victory," the president added after the battle.

В таких именно случаях говорится: в огороде бузина, а в Киеве дядька. А вот для оценки победы Усика Владимира Гройсмана: "Историческая победа нашего Александра Усика! В очередной раз он доказывает - сильнее украинцев в мире никого нет! Предложу президенту присвоить Александру звание Героя Украины!" - подходящей пословицы, кажется, нет. Тут больше подходит "плохое" для премьера Украины, считающего, что "сильнее украинцев в мире нет никого", сравнение.

In such cases they say: it's neither here where the elder is, nor in Kiev where uncle lives. And it seems that there's no suitable proverb for Vladimir Groisman's assessment of Usyk's victory: "The historic victory of our Oleksandr Usyk. Once again he proves - there is no one stronger than the Ukrainians! I will propose to the president to award Oleksandr with the title of Hero of Ukraine!" A "bad" comparison for the Ukrainian Prime Minister, who believes that "there is no one stronger than Ukrainians," is more suitable.

He may be frightened to discover that in the first half of the last century the leader of one European state, who had done a great deal for the development of mankind, was puzzled and angry that African American athletes were triumphant at the Olympics in his country, because he was nationalistically convinced that there is no one stronger than his compatriots, just like Groysman today. Then this leader, who shed tons of blood, was to be tried, but he deceived everyone, shooting himself. However, there is a hope that the Ukrainian PM, being in joy from the victory of his compatriot, was not very aware of what he say or write, and the next time he will be more cautious, at least in order not to cause unpleasant associations.

At the same time, Usyk and Gassiev, who gave people a good boxing evening, act with respect. They did not spare compliments to each other, claiming that they "have not met yet such skillful opponents in the ring." Probably, this is an example for imitation.