A pair of world-famous boxing champion brothers have joined the fight in Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.
Brothers Vitali Klitschko and Wladimir Klitschko were among the thousands of Ukrainian civilians who had volunteered by Thursday to aid in their country’s defense against Russian invaders.
The pair of boxing champions appeared in a video together on Thursday, during which they said “We must stay united against this Russian aggression. Don’t let it continue happening in Ukraine. Don’t let it happen in Europe and eventually in the world. United we are strong. Support Ukraine.”
Both brothers have had widely successful boxing careers and won numerous heavyweight title fights. In 2011, the brothers were added to the Guinness World Records with the record for most boxing heavyweight world title fights won by brothers, with 30 title fight wins between them. The brothers had such a sustained period of success that their combined winning streaks had come to be known in the boxing world as the “Klitschko era.”
Eldest brother Vitali Klitschko went on to become the mayor of the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv. It was in this capacity that he continued to serve when Russian forces launched their full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday.
On Thursday, when asked by a reporter if he would take up arms, the eldest brother said, “I don’t have another choice, I have to do that.”
Within hours of announcing his decision to join in the fighting, photographs began to circulate of Vitali Klitschko armed with a machine gun.
Wladimir Klitschko has also continued to rally support for Ukraine.
Vitali Klitschko tweeted a video message shared by his brother saying, “Wladimir Klitschko appealed to the democratic world to immediately help stop Russia’s war against Ukraine. Friends, distribute to your English-speaking acquaintances. The whole world – in all possible ways – must focus its efforts on ending this war!”
Vitali Klitschko isn’t the only civilian Ukrainian official who has taken up arms against Russia.
In an interview with CNN on Friday, former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, armed himself with an AKS-74U rifle.
Poroshenko also said the particular territorial defense battalion he had joined consists of about 300 civilians and is armed with four British-Swedish designed NLAW anti-tank missile launchers and two machine guns.
Two other members of Kyiv’s city council announced they had also joined the defense on Thursday. The two shared a video of themselves in uniforms, with rifles on a bus.