Today, the 2014 Youth Olympic Games open in Nanjing, China, and what would the Olympics be without an international political brawl?
In 1985, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) went to Moscow and defeated the fictional USSR champion on film in Rocky IV. Shortly thereafter, the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union fell. This time, the boxing is for real, and at stake is the new Russian empire.
Russian boxer Bibert Tumenov and Ukrainian boxer Viktor Petrov have a good chance of facing each other in this year’s Light Welterweight (64 kg) boxing competition at the Youth Olympics. They faced in the finals of the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships in April, and the Russian won.
When Teak Ukraine arrived in Nanjing, their ambassador, 2012 Gold Medal winning boxer Oleksandr Usyk, wrote “UKRAINE” in big letters on the YOG board.
Recently in Crimea, the National Professional Boxing League of Ukraine sent a letter to protest an “illegal” boxing event being held by the Russian boxing federation in Crimea. The letter reads in part:
Recently certain information appeared that a boxing event was planned to be held on August 9th, 2014 in the city Sevastopol, which is located on the territory of the Crimea. The promoter of this event is Mr Hrunov (Russia), the commission is going to be the Professional Boxing Federation of Russia.
The position of the National professional boxing League of Ukraine, as well as the Ukrainian Ministry of Youth and Sports, is absolutely univocal [sic] — holding of boxing events by the Russian promoter and under the Russian boxing commission on the territory of the Crimea is illegal.
The Crimea is an inseparable part of Ukraine and the presence of any Russian administrative and political elements on the territory of the peninsula iconsidered [sic] as occupation.
Mitchell Blatt is a travel writer, editor, and columnist who has lived and worked in China for six years. He is an author of two guidebooks, Panda Guides Hong Kong and Panda Guides China. He has been published in National Interest.org, USA Today, the South China Morning Post, The Korea Times, Roads & Kingdoms, Vagabond Journey, Silkwinds and The World of Chinese, among other outlets. See examples of his published articles.