Oleksandr Usyk Early Life
Oleksandr Usyk (Oleksandr Oleksandrovych Usyk) is a Ukrainian professional boxer, was born 17 January 1987, in the Ukrainian city of Simferopol in 1987. A talented youth footballer, he took up boxing in 2002 and began what would become a lengthy amateur career four years later. He represented his country at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, losing to Clemente Russo in Beijing before taking the gold medal in London. That triumph was at heavyweight – and when Usyk turned professional a year later he was signed up by the Klitschko brothers’ K2 Promotions to box at cruiserweight.
Since turning pro Usyk has proved himself to be an excellent all-round fighter and won the WBO Inter-Continental interim title in just his fifth fight. He is now the unified champion of the world after his points win over Murat Gassiev in July – and looks set to put those belts on the line against Tony Bellew later this year.
When the boxer is preparing for a fight, his typical training day begins at 6 a.m. with an 8-10.5-kilometer run. The next training session normally takes place at midday – either weight lifting or a cardio workout. The main training happens in the evening, comprising punch bag or punching mitt workouts. After 3-4 weeks of intensive three-times-a-day workouts, the sparring begins. The boxer’s training sessions then start at 10 a.m. or later, with sparring training done closer to the usual fight time (around 8 p.m.), so that the body gets used to working at night. After a fight, good nutrition, vitamins, massages, sauna and other procedures help Usyk recover.
Who is Oleksandr Usyk?
Oleksandr Usyk shot to prominence in July after winning the World Boxing Super Series with a unanimous points win over Murat Gassiev. With his victory, Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs), 31, became the undisputed world cruiserweight champion.
In the WBSS competition, southpaw Usyk showed how he uses technique, skills and stamina to break down his opponents and nullify them, rather than bludgeon them to the canvas. His win against Gassiev was so convincing that his opponent’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, asked his fighter at the halfway stage if he wanted to continue.
Oleksandr Usyk tempted Bellew to prolong his career by calling him out after beating Gassiev and the fight was all but confirmed when he then signed a promotional deal with Matchroom Sport in September, the UK-based promoter that guides Bellew (30-2-1, 19 KOs) as well as Anthony Joshua.
Matchroom now co-promote Usyk along with K2 Promotions, whose figureheads are the former heavyweight champions Vitali — now the mayor of Kiev — and Wladimir Klitschko, who sparred with an up-and-coming Usyk three years ago.
Emulating the Klitchkos
With the Klitschkos now retired, it is Usyk, along with good friend and ESPN’s pound-for-pound No.1 lightweight Vasyl Lomachenko, who are the new faces of Ukrainian boxing.
Usyk has been likened to a bigger version of Lomachenko, who he has known since their amateur days. Lomachenko won gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, while Usyk struck gold in the heavyweight class at the 2012 Olympics after failing to earn a medal in 2008. Lomachenko’s father Anatoly has even trained with Usyk in the past, but a spokesperson for Usyk would not confirm who had trained him for this weekend’s fight.
Usyk is passionate about his Ukrainian heritage and was born in Crimea, the area that was annexed by Russia in 2014 and which is still in dispute. Although he has since moved to the Ukrainian capital Kiev along with his wife Yekaterina and their three children, Usyk remains fiercely proud of his Crimean roots. In 2014, he declared he would never accept Russian citizenship and in October last year he visited Ukrainian guards on the eastern border.
But Usyk is now careful about commenting on Crimea and no longer wears the distinctive Cossack hairstyle he displayed a few years ago. This is an educated boxer who knows the price of letting your emotions get the better of you, and the merits of staying disciplined — as he showed against Gassiev.
Pathway to Joshua
A straight-forward win over Bellew on Saturday will leave nothing for Usyk to accomplish at cruiserweight after accumulating the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO belts.
Usyk might be a cruiserweight for now, but he is a heavyweight contender waiting to happen. When it does happen, he will be attempting to regain the titles once held by the Klitschko brothers.
A showdown against Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), the WBA-IBF-WBO world heavyweight champion, would be a career-defining fight for both men, and Usyk has already taken steps to try and make it happen.
“I think you can see yourself, I will fight him,” Usyk said. “One reason we have agreed to fight Bellew is to get to Joshua.”
Joshua has a date at Wembley Stadium booked for Apr.13 but his opponent has yet to be announced. WBC champion Deontay Wilder is fighting lineal champion Tyson Fury in Las Vegas on Nov.10, with the winner tipped to fit the Wembley bill — although Joshua’s London rival Dillian Whyte has also been mentioned if a heavyweight unification fight falls through.
Victory over Bellew on Saturday will only improve Usyk’s credentials to be considered alongside Wilder, Fury and Whyte as a genuine contender. He sees a pathway ahead of him leading to the riches of the heavyweight division — that pathway ends at Joshua.
Oleksandr Oleksandrovych Usyk Biography and Profile