Yaroslav Amosov, 28, is a living legend of Ukrainian sport, one of the most beloved active champions in his country: he holds the welterweight crown in mixed martial arts, the discipline known by the acronym MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) . For him, these are special days. Until February 20, he was in Thailand attending a training course to perfect Muay Thai techniques. And on May 13 they were waiting for him in London, he was supposed to defend the world crown against Michael Page.

After 26 consecutive victories, he dreamed of reaching the absolute unbeaten of another legend of the sport, the 29 successes in a row of the Russian fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, four days before the invasion ordered by Putin, the Ukrainian athlete returned to his native Irpin, the scene of violent fighting in recent weeks, to save his wife and his 6-month-old son.

He enlisted in the Territorial Defense Forces to defend his family, his home, his country. CNN has published a long and moving interview with Yaroslav Amosov

“It’s hard to look at your city now, which was once full of joy, of life,” he answers journalist Matias Grez’s questions. “This has always been very beautiful, people were happy, they were happy with their lives”, while now there is only “destruction”, recalls Amosov.

“The first few days it was very difficult to get used to all these events, seeing how people were running away from their homes. Not everyone could leave, some people had parents that they couldn’t leave behind, who were very old and couldn’t move well. People were running … they took their children, they took their parents in their arms and they ran, they cried, they didn’t know what to do. People ran with their pets, “he says.

“I saw a soldier running with a child in his arms. The baby’s things were all covered in blood, but the blood was not his, it was his father’s. The mother was running after him. The child was probably two or three years old, but neither I didn’t even understand what was going on, I didn’t hear him cry, he was probably just in shock.”

Amosov assures CNN that in the hardest moments he feared that he would not survive. And among the most emotional moments, he remembers the day that, after the Russian withdrawal, he and his team went to bring aid to civilians who were still hiding in cellars and shelters.

A month ago, the Ukrainian fighter published a video on social networks in which he was seen recovering the world champion belt from his mother’s house. “It was a very nice moment, because the belt was safe and sound.”

Amosov also relates that he has lost some companions and has met children mutilated by Russian bombs, such as one of his fans, whom he went to visit in hospital. Now, however, he is thinking about the sporting future again. With the situation less hectic, the Ukrainian champion has already resumed training in his city to try to get in shape. And resume, when the war is over, the interrupted challenge.

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