Aleksandr Usyk became the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world after defeating the UK’s Tyson Fury early on Sunday Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine beats Tyson Fury of United Kingdom to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on May 19, 2024. © Mohammed Saad/Getty Images Top stories Israel-Hamas talks ‘stopped’ – media Israeli broadcaster Kan has reported that the two belligerents couldn’t agree on what the “end of the war” would look like Latest Top Stories Russia ‘done’ with Western Europe ‘for at least a generation’ – Lavrov German-Israeli tattoo artist among three dead hostages recovered by Israel Biden currently not scheduled to attend Zelensky’s ‘peace conference’ Taliban not a threat – Moscow Zelensky blasts West for wanting conflict to end West ‘playing with fire’ – Moscow Indian, Pakistani students in former Soviet state get ‘stay indoors’ notice .breaking-news[data-href=”Boxing star still on Ukrainian state-linked ‘kill list’”] { display: none; }

Ukrainian boxer Aleksandr Usyk has become the world’s first undisputed heavyweight boxing champion in 24 years, clawing his way to victory in a twelve-round bout against the UK’s Tyson Fury in the early hours of Sunday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

While Fury dominated in the first half of the encounter, Usyk managed to turn the tide in the eighth round, winning by split decision. The Crimean-born pugilist became the first boxer to hold all four major heavyweight belts simultaneously as well as the first undisputed champ since 2000.

However, at home, the 37-year-old athlete has repeatedly been criticized for supposedly not being patriotic enough, and has found himself on the infamous Mirotvorets (Peacekeeper) kill list, which is believed to be run by his homeland’s Interior Ministry.

The controversial database was launched, presumably by Ukrainian activists, in 2014 – months after the Maidan coup and Crimea’s accession to Russia, and at the height of Kiev’s armed conflict with Donbass secessionists. It features the personal details of individuals deemed to be anti-Ukrainian who allegedly pose a threat to the country’s territorial integrity. Over the years, the website has been criticized by a number of human rights organizations.

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Usyk’s name appeared in the database back in 2020, with the website’s administrators accusing him of “repeating the Kremlin’s narratives… rejecting Russian aggression and denying the independence of Ukrainian Orthodoxy from Russian control.” Mirotvorets cites the boxer’s appearance in a religious film linked to the Russian Orthodox Church, titled ‘Hello, Brother! Christ is Risen!’

According to the website, some of the comments Usyk made in the video regarding relations between Russians and Ukrainians are controversial.

Soon after the outbreak of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in February 2022, the boxer returned from abroad and joined a Territorial Defense Battalion. However, the athlete moved to Poland in March of the same year to train for an upcoming fight, explaining that he could better serve the country in the ring than on the battlefield.

Before the hostilities erupted, Usyk had on multiple occasions provoked the ire of Ukrainian nationalists by stating that he didn’t see the difference between Russians and Ukrainians.

When asked whether he considered Crimea to be Ukrainian or Russian, the fighter would merely say that the peninsula belongs to God, or simply that “Crimea is Crimea.” (RT)