A boxing hall in kyiv helps overcome the stress of war

The sound of hip hop mixes with the dull rumble of fists hitting heavy bags where boxers burn off the stress of weeks of war in kyiv, the Ukrainian

The sound of hip hop mixes with the dull rumble of fists hitting heavy bags where boxers burn off the stress of weeks of war in kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

“With the curfew in the city and restrictions on movement, we needed a place to let off steam and release emotional tensions,” said Oleksandre, 38, an employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

“Naturally it helps a lot,” he admitted after completing the training, which includes floor work, running and hitting a hanging bag.

Since the withdrawal of Russian forces from around kyiv at the end of March, the Ukrainian capital has slowly returned to almost normal life and two-thirds of its inhabitants have returned, according to the mayor’s office.

Restaurants reopened their doors and, with the arrival of spring, cafes once again attract customers to the terraces where many seem to ignore the sirens warning of the danger of an air raid that still resound in the city.

Gyms have also started to resume their activities, such as the All Stars Boxing Club in the center of kyiv.

There the trainers put boxing fans, fitness fanatics and newcomers to the test.

For 20 years Ukraine has been a dominant presence in the world of boxing, with figures recognized as fast, precise and technical fighters, skills that seem to have been adopted on the real battlefield.

– Endure –

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir have held a string of heavyweight titles achieved over the years, propelling the duo to superstar status in Ukraine and aiding Vitali’s successful political career. .

Reigning heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk briefly hung up his gloves in February to join Ukraine’s territorial defense forces, before returning to training ahead of a highly anticipated rematch against celebrated British boxer Anthony Joshua this summer.

“Of course, these boxers motivate me, but I don’t train to be professional, it’s more to be in shape,” said Vladislav, a 35-year-old real estate investor.

“Sport allows you to get in shape, both mentally and physically, and helps to leave stress behind,” he added.

Vladislav’s attitude mirrors that of many other athletes at All Stars, where boxing offers a means of staying fit while managing the anxiety and stress that comes with life in a time of war.

“In these circumstances, sport is the only activity where you can really engage and benefit from yourself,” said 35-year-old Igor.

This official is originally from Donetsk, a large industrial city in the east of the country that has become a bastion of pro-Russian separatists who have been fighting the Ukrainian army since 2014.

For Igor, the Russian invasion launched on February 24 is “a bit of deja-vu.” “Sport helps” to hold on, he notes.

“An advantage of boxing is that it allows you to keep your mind clear,” Oleksandre said. “All thoughts go, help reset.”