Once a dominant cruiserweight, Oleksandr Usyk has become a major force since deciding to move up to the heavyweight division. Not one to get into politics or his home life, he would rather fight in the ring and showcase his greatness there.
Usyk made his pro debut in 2013 after winning a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics. He won the WBO cruiserweight title in 2016. In the 2017-18 World Boxing Super Series tournament, he beat Marco Huck; Mairis Briedis for the WBC cruiserweight title; and Murat Gassiev in the final for the WBA, IBF and The Ring cruiserweight titles. His lone defense as undisputed champion was a knockout win over Tony Bellew in 2018.
Following his takeover of the cruiserweight division, Usyk moved up to heavyweight in 2019. He beat Chazz Witherspoon in his debut in the division. Usyk’s next bout was a unanimous decision win over Derek Chisora. In September 2021, Usyk beat Anthony Joshua to become the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion. A rematch between Joshua and Usyk is expected to take place in 2022.
The Sporting News looks into the history of the heavyweight champion.
Where is Oleksandr Usyk from?
Usyk was born in Simferopol, Crimean Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union, in 1987. His parents are of northern Ukrainian descent. He lives with his three children and his wife, Kateryna, in Kyiv. Usyk’s wife has Russian citizenship, but he was adamant at one point that he would not give up his Ukrainian citizenship. His family lives around the Crimean peninsula.
Usyk was one of several combat sports stars to take up arms against Russia after it invaded Ukraine last February. At the beginning of the war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy barred all men ages 18-60 from leaving the country. In March, Usyk received permission to leave the country to train for a future fight against Joshua.