Oleksandr Usyk is one of the best boxers on the planet, but things could have been way different if he had continued to wear boots instead of picking a boxing gloves.
Usyk was born in the city of Simferopol, in Ukraine’s Crimea region, in 1987. He was thrown into a world where sport was his only escape. From a very young age, he participated in different sports.
“As a child, I did some wrestling, hand-to-hand combat, karate, but without fanaticism,” he revealed, “we would do push-ups, squats, sometimes learned some simple techniques.”
Initially, however, it seemed like a life in football would help and his family get out of poverty. Until the age of 15, he played in the academy of Ukrainian Premier League side SC Tavriya Simferopol.
“I played for Tavria from Simferopol, and I did pretty well. I was never a benchwarmer, I was always a starter.”
But even though he was a good player, the expenses surrounding the sport were too much for his family to handle.
“Soccer demanded some very serious expenses. And two or three hundred hryvnias was a substantial amount for my parents.