Gold medallist at the London 2012 Olympic Games and at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Baku 2011, Heavyweight supremo Oleksandr Usyk is set to take WSB by storm when he takes to the ring for the impressive Ukraine Otamans. The charismatic ‘Hopak’ dancing 25-year-old has the world at his feet and WSB fans will have the pleasure of seeing him strut his stuff in the world’s premiere team boxing competition. We put a few questions to the imposing southpaw.
Tell me about yourself and the sport you love?
When I was a little child, I was often playing with other children on the playground, but on this particular occasion there were more children than normal, and with tears on my face, I ran to my father as I was unhappy at the competition. He looked at me and said sternly, “Are you a man or not”? I didn’t understand at that time, but it made me tough and I took up boxing because of him. I went on to win the European, World and Olympic gold medals so now I’m very grateful for this, that my father was not soft on me.
You can have all the talent in the world but it means nothing without ambition, discipline and concentration. You said that. Explain.
You should never enter the ring with worries; you should be serene, at peace and very calm. You should always work and train hard, remember every fight you had and learn from every mistake. Boxing is an art and one’s art always has to be perfected. I dream that my lovely little daughter will be a national dancer and in order to get there she needs to dedicate herself, it is the same as me. You need to be able to control everything when you are in the ring, so I work extra hard to be able to get myself into a position where I can control things. It’s not important how many times you fall; it is important how many times you get back up.
Can you say something about Clemente Russo and Ivan Dychko?
They are both in Group B with the Ukraine Otamans so it will be very interesting to face them. They are both excellent boxers.
Do you have any special diet tipps?
There is nothing in particular; it is my wife who cooks for me and she knows what I need. Borsch, salads and I particularly love Macaroni. I avoid all the beverages like Coke, Sprite and water with gaz.
How much do you train?
We train every day, 2 to 3 times a day. We always have a pause of 2 hours for the midday lunch. We always keep the intensity really high to replicate what happens in the ring. That is why Ukraine is so successful at producing talent.
Do you have a special motto?
I wake up with the smile in the morning, and I read a bit, observing always at time of silence.
What does your special hair cut signify?
This is a distinguishing feature from other Russian Cossacks hairstyles; it is called a roach haircut. I like it! (The Cossacks were a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in Ukraine and Southern Russia – They used to have such haircuts, to be different from the other communities).
You danced the Hopak at the Olympic Games, will you be dancing this traditional dance every time you win?
The Olympics were very special and it was a spur of the moment thing so I do not think I will be doing it again, except maybe when I win a big fight. (The celebratory hopaky dance is performed only by men in male dominated environments. Their performers were young, boisterous mercenaries, and not professional dancers; as such, the dance steps performed were predominantly improvisational, reflecting the performers’ sense of manliness, heroism, speed and strength)
What are your plans for the future?
I want to be a World Champion and continue to have discipline and concentration.
Tell us about your experience in London?
I had a lot of emotions, I was very happy; I was missing my wife and my daughter during the Games but after winning the gold, I was absolutely overjoyed at having been part of that amazing experience.
The Ukraine Otamans begin their WSB adventure at home to Astana Arlans Kazakhstan on Friday 16 November at the Acco National Exhibition Centre.