Oleksandr Usyk breaks down in tears during Gary Neville interview as he reveals heartbreaking story about his dad
OLEKSANDR USYK broke down in tears as he revealed all about the agony of losing his “hero” father.
The 36-year-old Ukrainian currently holds the WBA (Super), IBF, and WBO heavyweight world titles after defeating Anthony Joshua for a second time in August.
He is now closing in on a mega unification bout with Tyson Fury, the WBC champion, with talks still ongoing.
Former Manchester United footy star Gary Neville recently travelled to meet up with the 20-0 boxer for his latest episode of The Overlap.
And the usually ice-cool Usyk struggled to contain his emotions as he discussed the death of his dad and how he nearly died as a child.
Usyk said: “When I was in year two at school, I got really ill – I had serious pneumonia. It was very bad. The doctor even told my mum that I might not survive.
“That illness lasted for a year. I’d spend two months in hospital, then two weeks at home, or a month in hospital then go home for a week.
“So, I went back and forth. So, from then, my grandma always took me to church and I found it interesting, I liked watching the service.
“I also liked the smell of frankincense. I would study the place carefully. I could pray alone. My family weren’t particularly religious, they didn’t really go to church.
“I also started doing press-ups, squats and running. That’s how my sporting journey started.
“There wasn’t much to do in the village and the only thing we had was football.
“So, I played football, rode horses, swam and improved my endurance by pouring cold water over me.
“But when we returned to Crimea in 2002 I started playing for a professional football team.
“I played with them until my father passed away, God rest his soul. He was the one who always motivated and forced me to train and study.
“Everything I have now is down to him. He put so much into me, taught me about priorities in life, which are family, sport and education.
“He was a military man, by the way. My mum hated it when he taught me how to fight with a knife. She’d shout ‘Sasha, he’ll grow up to be a criminal, what are you doing?’
“He’d be like ‘Get away, if he knows how to do it, he will never use it on others but when he needs to protect someone, that’s when he’ll use it.’”
Usyk then broke down in tears as he revealed his father was his hero and said: “I often think of him and miss him very much.
“He was already ill when I went to the Olympics in London.
“I was preparing for the finals, he didn’t call me prior to the finals or anything and we didn’t speak for a few days.
“When I won and got back to my hotel room, he called me. We talked on the phone for about an hour. We’d never spent an hour on the phone together before.
“It was as if he was saying his farewell to me.”
When Neville asked if he would be proud of his achievements, Usyk replied: “Very much so, but he never said it to me. He never told me that he loved me but I know that he told his friends that he did.
“I think this is because he grew up in the Soviet era where a man is supposed to be tough and shouldn’t show his emotions – the man is a rock and all that.
“I’ve never heard him say ‘I love you’ or anything like that. “Yes, I knew that he did, but I wanted him to say it.
“I wanted some kind of affection. Nevertheless, I really love him and will continue to love him.
“Every day I tell my sons that I love them and how cool they are. I tell them they are the best.
“I call them everyday to tell them, I just want them to know. But, as a father, I will provide them with everything they need.”
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