Boxer Vitali, Wladimir Klitschko defend his homeland Ukraine

Retired Ukrainian boxing stars Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko are preparing to take up arms and defend their country after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.

Vitali Klitschko, who has served as mayor of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv since 2014, told “Good Morning Britain” in an interview that the conflict has been a bloody one.

“I had no choice,” said Klitschko, 50. “I have to do it. I’ll fight.”

His 45-year-old brother, Wladimir, enlisted in Ukraine’s reserve army earlier this month. He wrote a lengthy post on social media on Thursday warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin was threatening the “European way of life”.

“He made it clear that he wanted to destroy the Ukrainian state and the sovereignty of the people,” wrote the younger Klitschko. “Words are followed by rockets and tanks. Destruction and death come upon us. That’s it, blood will be mixed with tears.”

The Klitschko brothers’ boxing promoter, Tom Loeffler, told the San Gabriel Valley (Calif.) Tribune that both brothers are in Kyiv and are safe now.

Both brothers are multiple times world heavyweight boxing champions, and both are members of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Vitali Klitschko retired with a 45-2 record, and Wladimir Klitschko was 64-5.

Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine on Wednesday night and an invasion beginning on Thursday.

– School level media

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