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Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko Are Staying in Ukraine To Fight and Defend Their Home

The Klitschko brothers made millions as heavyweight boxing champs, and could live anywhere they chose to in safety. They aren't choosing that route.

Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko both made millions in professional boxing. Both are former heavyweight champions in their sport, ensuring they could live lives of comfort and safety anywhere in the world that they wanted. Instead, they're staying in Ukraine and fighting for their country. 

Post boxing career, Vitali became mayor of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, back in 2014. Per ESPN, Klitschko also was a leading figure in protesting Ukraine developing closer ties with Russia. Now that Kyiv is being attacked by Russian forces, Klitschko is again defending Ukraine along with his brother, Wladimir Klitschko, also a former heavyweight champion boxer and Hall of Famer.

"Now, the Russian president [Vladimir Putin] is using war rhetoric ... he makes it clear that he wants to destroy the Ukrainian state and the sovereignty of its people," Wladimir Klitschko wrote on Linkedin on Thursday. "Words are followed by missiles and tanks. Destruction and death come upon us. ... We will defend ourselves with all our might and fight for freedom and democracy."

Tragic Conflict 

Vitali Klitschko's protesting of Ukraine developing closer ties with Russia back in 2013 was a bold move. Even a dangerous one. Being an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin has led many people to early graves. So many of these cases exist that a former Russian scholar wrote a book that was published in 2017 called, “Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder.” The Klitschko brothers know this but they are not afraid. They're running in to fight to defend the sovereignty of their country. They'll not back down, and stories of Ukrainian forces remaining vigilant, even to their last breaths, have already started coming out. 

“Our eastern neighbor is not happy with our decision to become part of the European family,” Klitschko told the U.K.'s Channel 4 News last month. “We do not want to return to the USSR. We were in the USSR and we see our future as part of a European family. Mr. Putin disagrees. They have an idea to rebuild the Soviet Union, but we do not want to return to the USSR. We see our future as a free democracy. As a former officer, I spent a lot of time in the army. As a former soldier, I am ready to defend my country, to defend the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Will I fight in the war against Russia? Yes, of course. I will fight in the front lines.”

The Klitschko's may be the most well-known examples of Ukrainian people fighting for their country. Thousands of Ukrainians don't have the same celebrity that are exuding the same kind of bravery.

Across The World

Russia's emboldened actions caught social media by storm in America on Wednesday night. Reading social media (especially Twitter) it was easy to see an American culture trying to make light of the situation or doing the exact opposite, seeing individuals scolding other Americans attempting to make jokes or deal in their way. It's easy in the modern era of social media to make a situation about ourselves. After all, a person is posting to their profile or media wall. It's important to find a balance between acknowledging the world around us without making it about ourselves. 

A former co-worker and friend of mine who is Ukrainian and lives there asked me to share this link to a non-profit organization helping with many of the difficulties their population is facing. I shared it on my personal social media account, but I will also link it here. Outside of that, the thoughts of many are with those suffering in Ukraine and anywhere else in the world.