Roy Jones Jr. says Ukraine ‘blacklisting’ over visiting Crimea is politicized

Boxer Roy Jones Jr. © Artem Kreminsky
Legendry boxer Roy Jones Jr. says that Ukrainian activists’ putting him on a blacklist over visiting Crimea is an “attempt to politicize” his legitimate business endeavors, which he says are aimed at trying to “build bridges between the East and the West.”

The remarks came after the multi-weight champion met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Crimea, which resulted in Ukrainian activists including him in the ‘Peacemaker’ database of “separatists” and “terrorists” as a violator of their state border.

Earlier, an adviser to Ukrainian Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said the database is being created with the aim of assisting Ukraine’s law enforcement. He also called on the country’s security service to open a criminal case against Jones Jr. for “illegally” entering Ukraine. (Ukraine still considers Crimea to be their lawful territory, although the country seceded to Russia in 2014).

"I came to Russia with peace in mind as I have been doing regularly for the past four years. I didn't come here to offend nobody (sic)," said Jones Jr. as cited by Boxing Scene.

“I’ve boxed here, I’ve performed music here... I have seen how the people love Roy Jones and I love it when people love me,” the American born boxer, arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the 1990’s, added.

The boxer says he has no interest in politics and did not know that relations between Moscow and Washington had reached such a low point. On the contrary, he says he wants to bring “people together” through sport.

"Otherwise, this nonsense of Ukraine blacklisting me is a transparent attempt to politicize a legitimate business endeavor that we are pursuing with peace in our heart to help restore and build bridges between the East and the West,” he said.

Roy Jones Jr. took part in a boxing event in Sevastopol in Crimea over the weekend. Prior to that, he asked President Putin about the possibility of obtaining a Russian passport, saying that it would make it easier for him to conduct his business activities, which include trying to set up a number of boxing schools.

Noting that Jones is well-known and adored by Russian sports fans, Putin said that as long as the boxer spends a large proportion of his time doing business in Russia, authorities "would certainly be happy to fulfill [Jones'] request to receive a Russian passport, Russian citizenship."

“I think Russian boxing fans would be very happy,” the Russian leader said.

Jones Jr. is rumored to be looking to set up a fight in Moscow on November 28 through his promoter. However, this could just prove to be a prelude to a fight with either one of the Klitschko brothers – Wladimir, who currently holds four of the five heavyweight belts, or Vitali, who is the current mayor of Kiev.

“I know the Klitschko brothers have been itching to fight me and it could be that this is their way of calling me out,” the 46 year-old said. “So hey, if Vitali or Wlad want to settle this over a friendly sparring session for 12 rounds for the world heavyweight title, anywhere in the world outside of Ukraine, including Crimea, they know how to reach me,” he added, according to Boxing Scene.